Develop a classification system - analyze patterns, create a schema, evaluate where specific elements belong. Sounds like a very sophisticated exercise. Not really, young toddlers do it all the time - sorting out their toys and household stuff into groups of their own design. They may not be able to explain their thinking, but hand them another item and watch them purposely place it into one of their groups. They have designed a system.
Humans experience the world in patterns, continually trying to answer the question - what is this? Remembering where we've encountered things before and assessing new items for their similarities and differences. Someone once asked Picasso if it was difficult to draw a face. His reply, "it's difficult not to draw one." We see "faces" everywhere.
Filling out a Venn diagram isn't analysis - it's information filing.
It's unfortunate that student don't get to use their innate perceptual skills more often in the classroom. Instead of discovering patterns on their own, students are "taught" to memorize patterns developed by someone else. Rather than do the messy work of having to figure out what's going on and how to group what they see - students are saddled with graphic organizers which take all the thinking out of the exercise. Filling out a Venn diagram isn't analysis - it's information filing. Instead of being given a variety of math problems to solve that require different problem-solving strategies, students are taught a specific process then given ten versions of the same problem to solve for homework. No pattern recognition required here - all they have to do is simply keep applying the same procedures to new data sets. Isn't that what spreadsheets are for?
'Don’t Teach Them Facts – Let Student Discover Patterns' continued...
One of the goals of my blog is to research, curate and effectively share information with my audience. Conferences are a great aggregator of expertise and information that have inspired some of my most popular blog posts. Here’s how to gather the conference backchannel using Wiffiti, Twitter StreamGraphs, Prezi, and Storify. A “how to” with sample visualizations.
We’ll focus on three core skill areas central to the Common Core standards – defining, summarizing and comparing using my guide to “18 Strategies for Struggling Readers.” Plus I’ll introduce some great websites that they can use with the strategies – the new digital literacy meets the old text literacy.
Taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know, according to new research. It actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques.
I’m pleased to have been invited by the educators at the Smithsonian Institution to do a guest blog post using museum resources. I was attracted to the Smithsonian Bicycle collection because the images could be analyzed by students without a great deal of background knowledge. Students can use historic photographs of bicycles to answer critical thinking questions focused on the theme of continuity and change.
Analysis – What patterns do I see in the bicycles – construction, design, features, uses? What elements do they share in common? How do they differ?
Evaluation – In my own judgment, what elements are changing? Which are staying the same?
Creating – What have I learned about continuity and change in the history of the bicycle? How can I represent what I’ve learned to share with others?
Instruction is not simply an act of telling, it should instead be centered around creating learning experiences that provoke student reflection. In this lesson, source documents and literacy strategies combine to simultaneously teach content and comprehension. But more importantly, an essential question serves as a springboard to engage students in a deeper reflection on the notion of sacrifice in a historical context and in their own lives.