Students Finding Important Answers Through Thinking

The above graphic is created by  and I found it just now on Twitter from KQED.

By following these ideas, teachers are better educators and more importantly, students become better thinkers.

We so often miss opportunities to let the kids think.  Teachers, please stop telling the students in front of you what to do! Let them find the answers.

It does take some different planning.  Many of you are probably already doing the left side of Julie Woodard’s graphic.

You see, if we give them time with a clear learning target that we expressly share with the students at the beginning of class, students have an idea of what they are going to learn. But again, teachers:  Stop and let the kids think. It is not good enough to have teacher-talk objectives on the board and never refer or explain them. Go through the learning target; it’s not just there for show.  As an observer and department chair, I do want to see it, and I especially want to know that every student really understands that target.

When we help make connections to the outside world and between content areas, then students can begin to see why they need to be in classes that they may not like.  And in some cases, they may detest the class.  Let’s be honest, this is true for some.  So, let’s help these young men and women, girls and boys see how their learning is worthwhile.  Then give them time to think and talk with more people than just who is sitting next to them about how the learning possibly could be worthy.

And as John Hattie has explained, clear expectations of where the end is going helps students not be swimming in a rough current without paddles.  Who wants to feel lost and drowning?  Don’t we all — at any age — want to know when I have met the expectation?

We owe our students more than just endless content; they deserve the respect to  give them time to process ideas and have a map with those ideas.

So, rather than planning more, plan to stop talking.  Plan to let the kids have time to think in their own mind– with paper so that they can jot down notes and contemplate Woodard’s questions.  Then time to play with the ideas with a partner, and then with you or the class.

Students really don’t learn from our babble.  Remember, Charlie Brown’s teacher? “BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.”  The kids of any grade may not have learned all of our content yet but they have strong brains which we need to give time to eat up the information.

Next time, we’ll talk about how to change the classroom so they are used to this new style of time and thinking.  For now, it is up to YOU.   Teachers, please stop telling the students in front of you what to do! Let them find the answers.


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