Friday, January 8, 2010

Puzzling but true

The more I think I know my kids, the more I realize I can never predict what they'll get and what they won't. Twice in the past week, I've been teaching about a concept in a lesson when I realize it's come up before -- only I can't remember when or in what context. And both times, my class has lit up like a Christmas tree with children reminding me what we've learned.

The first time, I was teaching a reading lesson about how readers can infer what their characters are feeling by paying attention to body language. I mentioned that we had talked about body language before. "Oh yeah!" someone said. "Like in The Nutcracker, they use body language to tell the story instead of words." I had to give myself a big Duh, Miss Brave. Before the vacation, we took a field trip to see The Nutcracker, and I spent a long time talking about how the dancers' body language would tell the story in lieu of dialogue. We even practiced acting out some scenes from the book I read them (using body language, of course) before we went to the ballet.

The second time, we were reading an article about the invention of the Ferris wheel, which some kids were finding a little confusing because the article jumps from a paragraph about the London Eye to the invention of the first Ferris wheel in 1893. I was encouraging the kids to pay attention to the time shift, and I reminded them that we had recently read a book in which the author goes back in time to tell us about something that had already happened before the beginning of the story. Only I didn't tell them what book it was, because I couldn't remember! All of a sudden, I had kids calling it out to me: "A Chair for My Mother!"

Are my students smarter than me? Do they just have better memories than I do? Why is it that they can make these connections about things we learned weeks apart, but they can't remember to take their lunch money out of their schoolbags when they unpack or what page in their math journals I just asked them to complete? It's like there's some special trapdoor inside the seven-year-old brain that automatically gets rid of the last directive out of the teacher's mouth. In any case, I'm lucky they retained anything, so I'll take what I can get.

1 comment:

teach5 said...

Collectively, my kindergarten class is pretty smart. When I ask a question, someone usually knows the answer. It's when I get to individual responses, either in discussions or on paper, that I start to really see the holes in their knowledge. It can sound like the whole class knows something and it can be only a few of them.