Sunday, March 22, 2015

Invisible Learning

Principal ponderings...

The other night when I came home from work, I spent about 25 minutes watching my three month old as she played on her activity mat.  She is beginning to realize that the things at the end of her arms are hands and that they can purposely grab onto items.  She would lift her arm above her, stare intently at her hand and then reach for one of the hanging toys.  Sometimes her arm would just swing around in the air and sometimes she would actually latch onto the toy and hold it for a few seconds.  Each time, it was like I could see her gradually developing an understanding of the power of her tiny hands.  Her eyes would get wide and she would hold onto the toy for longer periods of time.  And of course I would talk to her and praise her and then she would smile and laugh at her accomplishment.

What an amazing thing to be able to watch her learn right before my eyes.  As a teacher, you would think I would be used to watching children learn.  But actually seeing the exact moment when a child learns...I don't think that usually happens for us in the classroom.  This moment with my daughter made me think about the fact that often the learning happening around us is invisible.  We don't really see the learning happen.  But somehow it does happen.

Each day in our classrooms invisible learning is going on around us.  Over time, the learning suddenly becomes visible because maybe we have a discussion with a child and realize that what they did not know a week ago, they now know.   Or maybe we give them an assessment and then we see the learning that has happened.  It's not like the cartoons when we can see light bulbs appearing over students' heads when it clicks, when they learn a new concept, that ah-ha moment.  And it's because of this invisible learning that we need to continually check in with our students to make the learning visible to us.

We are always fighting the time battle and moving quickly through our lessons, and the school day goes by fast with so much that needs to get accomplished during the school year.  But I wonder if you take some time to slow down every once in awhile in order to watch the learning happening right before your eyes.  Will you be able to see the actual moment when a child learns something?  I'm not sure, but whether it's a three month old discovering her hands or a third grader grasping the concept of equivalent fractions...what their brains can truly is awesome!

How will you make your students' learning visible this week?

Currently reading:
When I popped into Mrs. Mills' classroom this week, they were just finishing up reading The Lost Treasure of Tuckernuck.  This was the MCBA book that won the Florence Roche vote.  I have to admit that I actually have not read too many of the MCBA books this year, but the students were so eager to hear the end of the story...I decided I definitely need to read this book!
Events this week:
**PARCC testing all week, see separate schedule for changes
Monday - 4th grade Forces in Motion @ MSN 9-10 and 1-2:30,
Wednesday - 3rd grade chorus practice @ 2:25, 4th graders doing the pledge at School Committee meeting @ 7:00
Saturday - Science Fair @ MS  

Great things I noticed last week:

  • The 1st grade and multi-age put on an amazing concert Thursday night.  The students certainly looked like they had a lot of fun as they sang and danced in place on stage.  Way to go Mr. Wiesner!
  • Mrs. Roundtree's class was exploring simple machines in Mrs. Potter's class.
  • Mrs. Spiczka's kindergarten students were practicing making combinations of ten with their ten frames.
  • When I stepped into the gym one morning, Mrs. Kinneen's group of third graders was creating routines, demonstrating their gymnastics skills.
  • Thank you to Rob, Mark and Dianna for leading us in some really great breakout sessions on Wednesday.  Hopefully those of you who attended Rob's session have tried out using Google forms.  I heard several good strategies shared by different teachers during Mark's sharing session.  And Dianna got us all thinking more about growth mindset and the power of "yet."

Check it out:
Loved this article about teacher focused versus student focused discipline:
Great short post about the power of the read aloud!

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