soul strikers

powerful moments in education

Layers and Learning

When I originally wrote these thoughts, I was immersed in a unit about Earth’s Materials with my students.  They were fascinated with mica, and I found that I, too, could create meaning to add to my shared interest in this formation.

My world has completely changed because of my iPad.  Seriously- I can accomplish SO MUCH in my classroom with it, and as I read extensive articles and blogs I realize that I BARELY EVEN KNOW how to really use it!  I am getting there- that’s for sure- but I need to really dive into some learning tutorials for various applications.

Today, for example, I took notes using my Confer app as I listened to students share their writing or reading comprehension.  Because I have it in hand, I can easily go to them and really listen. Every since I ditched my notebook, binder, pencils, post-its and forms, I find that I am really truly listening to each student now.  I am never looking for something I need- only looking for where the student is in that very moment of learning and how I can guide them to the next step. After we chat and they are (hopefully) on the path to productively continue reading/writing, I type in quick notes- just enough to remind me of the conversation basics, and I can move on.

At one point, I was conferring with a student who was reading about earthquakes and he was having a hard time understanding what it meant that magma beneath the crust moves the earth’s plates.  Well, in seconds I could pull up a quick simulation that helps him see the “plate movement history” over the last few hundreds of millions of years and boom!  Concept is clear, purpose for reading continues, and interest in the subject remains.

The quest for balance continues, however, between utilizing technology and embracing the arts whenever needed and applicable.  We did some movement for learning during Word Study and used music and song lyrics during reading to practice making inferences.  I feel it is important for us to ask ourselves as teachers every day- did I travel through the whole brain today?  Did my planning addresses the variety of learning preferences in this room?

The layers that we are expected to work through every day in every subject with every student….they remind me of the glittery flaky pieces that come off of mica.  Beautiful, delicate, uneven, necessary, individual, unique…and standing alone, they crumble. If you tried to pull apart each flake, it would take forever, if possible at all! Yet, because of the beauty and fascination with each layer, all are key to its whole.   As a matter of fact, the word mica means ‘crumb’.  This came to mind when I spoke with a colleague about tackling a problem in Reader’s Workshop and our conversation took the path it so often does- we shared ideas, came to a few possible solutions, and walked away from the conversation thinking, for the millionth time in our teaching careers, “There is just SO MUCH!”

Teaching and learning is so multi-layered-and 3-D!… and I often wonder how much of the layering causes teacher burnout?

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This entry was posted on November 18, 2011 by in Curriculum, Instruction & Coaching, education, Teacher, Teacher! and tagged , , .

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