domingo, 26 de mayo de 2019

Does spelling count?

I came across this wonderful article which summarizes all of my feelings and coming to think about it, I can guess many more teacher’s can relate to having had the same feelings.

I greatly appreciate Shira Loewenstein for her article.  In order to maintanin her idea exactly as she transmitted, I am sharing her complete article with you.   My greatest thanks go to her.

“This is one of my favorite and least favorite questions all rolled into one.
As a science teacher, I gave an assignment to my students to create a children's book. "In your book, I want you to explain everything your readers have learned about the different types of clouds and how they relate to weather patterns." Before I even have the chance to hand out a rubric, no less than five children call out, "Does spelling count?!?" I am sure they're hoping for a simple "yes" or "no" (and more specifically a "no"), but this seems to be a teachable moment if I have ever met one. I'm going to seize it . . .

Math by Any Other Name

What is the purpose of learning spelling? Grammar? Math? Why do we break these subjects down? Why do these subjects seem so parsed from our students' lives that they need to know if something "counts?"

I ask my students these very questions. Why do I care if you learn spelling? Most of the answers are pretty accurate -- we need it when we grow up, so we don't make silly mistakes, so people understand our writing. So then I ask their own question back to them: "So should spelling count?" Through some groans and sighs, we agree that it makes the most sense for spelling to count. But those groans and sighs tell me something that is so endemic in our society. These children have been taught from a very young age that their "grades" matter more than the actual purpose of the assignment -- just like "subjects" trump true learning.

My six-year-old came home from his first day of first grade and declared to his little brother, "When you get into first grade, you are going to love math and science!" This declaration from my older son is accurate. My younger one will most likely enjoy math and science when he reaches first grade. How do we know this? Because he loves math and science in nursery school -- it's just that no one calls it "math" or "science." In nursery school, math is called cooking, building or drawing. Science is called gardening, exploring or playing on the yard (finding bugs and figuring out what they do is a specialty). What happened between nursery school and first grade that made us forget this? Why is it so critical for a first grader to learn "math" as a stand-alone subject? What happened to building?

Changing the Subject

I understand the need we have for teaching children isolated skills in order to enhance their deeper understanding of a subject. It makes sense that we're teaching them the concept of addition in order for them to successfully apply this concept to their building techniques. We do need to teach children spelling patterns because that will allow them to communicate in a more sophisticated and comprehensive manner as they advance in their writing. But how did these skills become the be-all and end-all of education? How did "math" become a stand-alone subject that has to be taught between 9:15 and 10:00 five days a week?

What if we were to eliminate subjects? What if we said there was no more "spelling" or "writing" or "math," and we just had "school"? In school, we want to advance the capacity for learning and knowledge of our students. There is no need to get stuck in the constraints of subjects and all the baggage this entails. What would my "science" classroom have looked like if this had been the culture of the school?

"We are going to write books about clouds for the kindergarteners to read. We are going to have to learn and practice all of the skills to do this effectively."

There is no more room for the question, "Does spelling count?" Of course spelling counts -- as much as accurate facts about clouds, weather patterns, and of course neatness also count. How is a kindergartner going to understand and learn from your book if it isn't legible, or comprehendible, or accurate?

I am not the only one who thinks this way. We can call this method problem-based learning, project-based learning or many other variations on the concept. Whatever you do, please, just don't call it "science."

What would happen if you were to eliminate subjects in your classroom?

SHIRA LOEWENSTEIN 
http://www.edutopia.org/blog/does-spelling-count-shira-loewenstein?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=blog-does-spelling-count-andertoons-comic-image
Image by Envato

domingo, 5 de mayo de 2019

¿Ya te enteraste?

Los ciudadanos digitales de hoy estamos convencidos de que lo sabemos todo y estamos muy bien informados. “Lo vi en un video de 5 minutos….” “Sí…me llegó la noticia en un mensaje” y hasta creemos que aprendemos de los “memes”.

El otro día escuchaba en la radio a Ángel Verdugo, periodista, que reflexionaba sobre la información volátil de hoy, comparando nuestras fuentes con los merolicos que vendían productos milagro hace años, por tres razones: desaparecen fácilmente, no toda la información tiene un sustento oficial y están dirigidos a los menos informados.

En parte este fenómeno se debe a nuestro reducido tiempo de atención, por darle “next” a todo, a la música, a los canales y probablemente ya pocos lectores llegaron a este párrafo.

Leer es algo que hoy se nos dificulta mucho, leer con atención y escuchar empáticamente no es algo aprendido. En cuanto escuchamos el primer argumento estamos ansiosos por responder, por poner un “dislike” o enfurecernos en contra de una persona que tiene una opinión particular. Incluso, llegando a respuestas agresivas.

En consecuencia, nuestros niños están aprendiendo lo mismo, a ver y juzgar rápidamente, a buscar la información fácil, “Alexa dime cuántos países hay en Africa”, -y claro que no quiero minimizar lo importante de la tecnología y las herramientas que nos facilitan el aprendizaje sino cuestiono la forma de usarlos-, les hemos enseñado a “copiar y pegar” para acabar rápido, ya que los niños de hoy están llenos de actividades que nosotros mismos les hemos impuesto. Tenemos mucha prisa.

Y es que mantener fuentes de información fidedignas es todo un reto, conseguir escritores con temas de interés y un sustento también lo es, por ello los contenidos ligeros son más fáciles de generar.

Dicho esto, el hecho de que este mes el blog del Colegio esté cumpliendo un año me parece un gran logro, rebasando por mucho el promedio de vida de los blogs, que fácilmente aparecen y desaparecen por falta de contenidos de trascendencia. Y es increíble que contenga desde cuentos escritos por niños, consejos para el lunch, la guía fácil para el primer día de clases, reflexiones sobre Fortnite y hasta análisis psicológicos sobre los comportamientos actuales de la niñez. Me pregunto qué tanto lo aprovechamos, lo compartimos y lo llevamos a la práctica.

¡Se buscan! Lectores asiduos, pero también más escritores serios, niños, mamás, papás, maestros, psicólogos, adolescentes, médicos, que quieran contribuir con investigaciones de valor, compartiendo sus propias experiencias y aportando ese granito, para que todos podamos saber un poquito de todo con el fin de seguir educando a esta generación, que nos trajo grandes retos.

Priscila Balcázar
Mamá de alumnas del Colegio
Foto por Envato.