Friday, May 21, 2021

Changes in Learning

When I was a kid we weren't allowed to use calculators in class. You were expected to figure out calculations on your own. After all, you aren't always going to have a calculator in your pocket, they said. Well, smart phones have certainly changed that. The world is changing faster and faster all the time. 

I have adjusted the way we do research in our classroom. As a grade level, we used to be adamant that students had to go to the library and have a book for their research. It was always a big ordeal. This year, with the pandemic and libraries being closed to visits, we decided we could use the internet as our main source for research. We learned about the importance of verifying information, considering the source and doing a lot of searching - all time well spent. Interestingly, I think the reports they wrote this year were better than any in previous years!

I see these changes happening in my classroom in many different areas. We have been reading The One and Only Ivan lately. We read that Ivan has been in his domain 9855 days. I asked our math super star how long that is in years. 

Superstar: Oh! I'll figure it out right now. Can I do it while I listen to you read?
Me: Sure! 
Superstar: Wait. Should I count leap years?
Me: How about we just use the same number for each year to keep it simple.

Superstar gets to work while we continue reading. Soon he interjects:

Superstar: Whoa! I've got ten 365s and I'm only to 3650 days! 
Me: What if you doubled your answer...then you'd be at 20 365s and you could see how close you are.
Superstar: No way. I'm not going to cut corners. I need to show all my work.

Quiet Student interjects: Excuse me. I searched it up (this is the 8 year old term for 'I googled it..") and it says it is just a little more than 27 years.
Superstar: Cheater! I'm not even listening to you! 
Me: Well, how about you keep going and we'll see if your answer matches. It's always good to verify information we find on the internet, right?

So the question is, who's the better learner?! Some would definitely side with my superstar and the truth is, he has some great skills. However, if they both get to the right answer, does it matter?

I was discussing this with my daughter and she said, I just read about that for one of my classes. She sent me the article. It gives great food for thought. It also reminded me of a book I read years ago by a Canadian author I had the chance to listen to. Time travel was involved (not one of my favorite genres) and the main character witnessed the beginnings of feminism and people struggling with accepting Henry Ford's horseless vehicles. It was preposterous! What were wagon wheel makers going to do if everyone started driving his cars?!

Note: Superstar never did finish the math problem. He got distracted. Quiet Student is one who is not fast at math and does not love to practice math facts. I do all sorts of songs and dances to try to get Quiet Student to practice math facts and increase recall proficiency. 

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