I was at professional development last night as part of my district's digital learning series. Shelley Wright of Wright's Room was the guest speaker and challenged me to "rethink" my teaching practice. She shared her experience as she transformed her teaching from that of traditional lecture approach to project based learning. What I took away last night was the challenge to follow the student's interests. To allow them to learn to learn, make mistakes, and do something meaningful in the real world.
To some extent, I think I already do this. As a grade one teacher, I do have time in the day for student choice of activity and much of my teaching is close to a project based learning style, however I am not sure how much I truly follow the interests of my students. Yes, they do have choices within my overall theme, but how many times have I asked, "What do you want to learn about?" or "What is important for you to know about?".... not often!
Some have said to me today "...but they are just 6 (yrs old) and don't know what there is to learn. You must teach them first." hmmmmm
I asked my 6yr old students today what they would like to learn about and let me tell you, they were full of ideas! (Sorry Mrs. Brett, we will be altering our year plans slightly.) Here's what they had to say...
- I want to learn about lego.
- I want to learn about tarantulas.
- I want to learn how cook.
- I want to learn about black widows. (times 4)
- I want to learn how to take care of animals.
- I want to learn how to grow plants (poppies).
- I want to learn about flowers.
- I want to learn how to make flower pots.
- I wonder what these electrical wires do?
- I wonder about dinosaurs. (times 3)
- I want to learn how to make pancakes.
- I want to learn about trees and leaves. We could go outside and experiment!
- Myself, "I wonder who will learn more, me or my students?"
I think it can work. I'm not sure exactly what it will look like, it will likely be chaotic (I mean more chaotic than it already is), it might not all work, but we will learn.