Sunday, April 15, 2012

Reflecting: The Road has Not Changed Much, but the Scenery has

Looking at my "Personal Learning Theory" from week one, not too much has changed. I still focus heavily on Multiple Intelligences and there is still a fair amount of Behaviorism. For kindergarten these particular things are important. Students need to learn things by using their hands, their singing voices, pictures and words. They are still learning how to behave in school, so conditioning is still necessary. These things are not going to change, but there was one change I saw was needed in my classroom.

While talking about Constructionism, I realized that I do not allow my students to just create often. I do not just give them an open ended assignment and see what they come up with. I typically give step by step directions and show a finished product. Even if I give the option to do what they want or to add on to my design, they do not do it. At five and six they want to please me too much to branch out. To help with this I have tried to do some projects only given verbal explanations and letting them come up with how they think it should look. I have done projects that were risky and failed. It was a great learning experience for all of us. At the end of it the students were still proud of the work they had done and were excited to take it home and show everyone (even the students who's projects fell apart because they did not do a direction correctly).

It is okay to have students who do not succeed every single time. It is okay to leave something open for the student to figure it out (even at five and six years old). That is how they learn the most. I have to change things so that students have those opportunities in my class. The changes are that I will give them more open-ended inquires, for them to figure out. I will give them the supplies they need and they can work it out on their own or in groups to find the answer or create the project. I will allow them to try challenging things on the computer and not have them play on the same site repeatedly. I will stop trying to protect them from failing. I have so many times told them to stop playing a game because it is not something kindergartners learn. If they want to play and they want that knowledge, who am I to stop them? Lastly, I will expect that they can manipulate a computer after they have practiced, and not be afraid they cannot do it. If they cannot do it, it mean I get the opportunity to teach it to them again, not they are not ready for it. There are many changes coming in the next few weeks and for next year.

This class has been filled with "DUH" moments and "That makes total sense" times. I have been given affirmation on many of my strategies and have been given many more to test in my classroom.  Overall, this learning experience has been filled with new hopes and changes in my classroom.