This blog is for teachers or anybody interested in strategies for students living in the 21st century . Here I will post updates on the Maine Literacy and Technology Grant. Information on technology use in classrooms will also be posted on a regular basis. Please feel free to comment. Welcome! The adventure begins.
This post discusses two of the key elements of guided inquiry...discovery and community. The joy of both of those drived the enthusiasm surrounding guided inquiry and engage our children. Enjoy. Courtesy of Choice Literacy!
When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement.
Sugatra Mitra, a professor of
educational technology in Newcastle, England, studies self-organized
learning and just how much children can teach themselves. He put
kid-height computer kiosks in remote villages all over India (computers
with programming in English and no directions), and just left them there
to see what the children could figure out. The computers were equipped
with “remote desktop” technology so that Sugatra Mitra could remotely
observe what the children were doing. In village after village, children
who began with absolutely no computer proficiency taught themselves
English, computer skills, and even science simply by working together
and experimenting. In fact, after nine months of “self-organized
learning” the children who had never used a computer before had the same
level of computer skills as an office secretary.
Next, Sugatra Mitra decided to see if some of the poorest
children in India could teach themselves something really challenging:
the science of DNA replication.
As a control group, Sugatra Mitra selected students in an
affluent, private school who were working with a teacher who was a
trained biologist. He found that village children were able to teach
themselves a pretty impressive amount of DNA science, but after a
certain amount of time, they hit a wall and the children working with a
teacher were at a substantial advantage.
So, Sugatra Mitra decided to find a teacher for the village
children. He wanted to make sure the teacher didn’t interfere with the
children’s self-organization, so he told her to use the “Grandmother
Method”--stand behind the children and every time they do something say,
“Wow! How did you do that?” and “What will you do now?” With two months
of this human connection with a teacher who scaffolded primarily with
“Wow!” and prompted students to reflect on their learning, the village
children in India improved their knowledge of DNA replication by 50% and
matched the scores of the wealthy children working with a teacher who
was a biologist.
In education, it is easy to find lots of directions about how
to scaffold kids. Publishers sell 37-page prompting guides that tell us
what cues to use as children work through books in guided reading. There
are whole books about conferring, gathering data, and differentiating
instruction. We think these resources have a lot of value; in fact, our
bookshelves are filled with them. We also believe, however, that
education could use a little more of the Grandmother Method.
What would happen if we carefully designed tantalizing tasks
and watched, listened, and said “Wow!” as children dug into them? We
invite you to experiment with engaging students in irresistible thinking
work and then, standing behind them, say, “Wow! How did you do that?”
and “What will you do next?” Maybe excellent teaching is about designing
spectacularly engaging tasks and getting out of the way so that our
students have unfettered opportunities to amaze us.
This week we look at ways to celebrate and build communities. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Betsy Hubbard created and leads Chalk-A-Bration, a wonderful way to get kids outdoors to celebrate literacy and life. It's a great activity to include in your planning for next year or forregular summer celebrations of learning if you are leading sessions with students in the coming weeks:
Our summer online courses include new offerings from Jennifer Schwanke on how principals can evaluate and support literacy instruction, and from Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan on designing book rooms. You can view descriptions and registration information at this link: