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Can Anyone Hear Me?

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3....can anyone hear me??!?

ISTE has made me think about the amount with which I speak. After repeatedly hearing one key element infused throughout conversations, lectures, keynotes, and Ignite Sessions- I am convinced I talk too much; to the detriment of my children.

When teaching Reading and Language Arts, it seems you must talk by default. Most of the current literacy research states that students show growth in a small group setting with explicit instruction and concrete examples provided. That's a lot of talking...and has students doing a lot of listening. In Scotty Iseri's (@scottyiseri) Ignite speech, Kill Your Players, one idea stuck out and resonated with me- and that is the idea that directions (and in most cases on overabundance of directions) sometimes robs the player of discovery. He spoke of less tutorials on HOW to play actually provided more play time and a better retention of the material.

It made me think of how we handle new items we buy that often come with an owner's manual; or those items we buy that tote, "some assembly required." Often, it isn't that I go home, whip those open and read them before hopping to the task. More often than not, I stack them in a drawer I keep all owner's manuals in in case I need them. (i.e. in case there is a problem too large for me to figure out.)

A prime example is the Microsoft Surface "Windows in Education" project.. Microsoft generously gave away 10,000 new Window Surfaces to attendees of the ISTE 2013 conference this past week. I continued to hear  people talk about "playing with it" and/or "trying to figure it out." Not once did I see anyone actively reading the paperwork that came with them. It isn't that reading the directions isn't important; and yes, there is a skill to being able to read directions and other technical information, process the data, and carry out a task. However, I think as humans we are curious in nature and the aspect of exploring and engaging is often times more meaningful.

For me, I learned that making meaningful, engaging learning opportunities for my students, as well as my own children, requires the opportunity for discovery and experiment. While I have always known this and it seems quite silly to even reflect on this need- how often do kids ask us for answers they either have access to the answers themselves or don't take the time to grapple with... think through the question being asked? I tend to get stuck in the crazy cycle of being ask a question and immediately answering it. Or, even worse, giving the answer before giving the student time to think through and process- problem-solve for themselves.

If the statistic that 90% of students report boredom in the classroom is true and boredom actually changes the cortex of the brain, then I must be doing ALL I can to ignite, engage, and inspire my students to explore, experiment, and problem solve on a consistent and regular basis,


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