Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Touching to Discover

A former math teacher, his rule was simple - the less kids touch the technology, the less likely it is to get broken and the less work that means for me.”

This made me think about my knitting. I never realized what a tactile person I was until I became a knitter.

When I go to yarn stores or a festival, I have got to touch the yarn. I want to see how it feels and see if it gives me inspiration. Sometimes I can touch a yarn and feel like it is telling me what it wants to be. Sometimes I have to touch the yarn to discover the characteristics of it. This will determine what I will make with it because different textures will not work with certain patterns.

I want my students to feel the same way about learning. For certain skills, they need to touch materials in order to learn how to do something. If I spend too much time talking or reading directions, I will lose my students. If I lose them too early, they don’t want to spend time discovering what I want them to learn.

I think it would be great to introduce a lesson by giving them the materials and have them try to figure out what we will do wit them. They can brainstorm the different things that they think it will be. Then I can have them follow the directions to see if it turns out what they thought it would be.

One time I let my students make molecules using froot loops cereal, peanut butter, marshmallows, and pretzel sticks.

Another way of doing this lesson would be to show them the finished product. I can let them touch it and turn it around so they can see it from different perspectives. This might help them when they struggle through the lesson.  Sometimes I want to see what is expected of me.

I hope that I don’t forget that the students need to touch things to discover. Sometimes touching the materials is needed to understand the lesson.

Do you let the students touch the materials to discover the lesson? What kind of lesson do you teach? Please share.


miss odessa said...

I am a special education teacher in a tiny school district that only has 3 special day classes for students with moderate to sever disabilities. I teach the elementary special day class, which includes students who are in grades 1-6 with a wide range of abilities. Experiencing lessons by touching, creating, doing is the best way for my students to learn and retain information. We recently did a lesson on solid figures using toothpicks and tiny marshmallows. The kids were fully engaged during the entire lesson. At the end of the lesson they were excited to take their completed projects home to share with their families. In addition, they actually remembered the content of the lesson and were able to generalize the knowledge.

Creating and implementing lessons that allow students to experience the curriculum is more labor intensive than paper and pencil tasks, but the benefits are worth the effort. A lot of the hands on lessons we do are actually easy to prepare for and require little more than materials found around the classroom or school. We recently made terrariums to learn about the life cycle and parts of plants. The only thing I had to buy was the pumpkin seeds. We recycle water bottles in my class so we used some empty bottles, dirt from outside, and address labels to create our terrariums. We cut the water bottle in half, filled the bottom half with some soil, stuck a seed in and then shoved the top of the bottle back over the bottom to make it seal. We opened the cap and watered our seeds then placed the terrariums outside in the sun. We wrote some facts about the plant growing on the address labels to create labels for our terrariums. The kids loved watching the plants sprout and grow stems and leaves. They are still talking about their plants. I can't agree more with using touching and experiencing as a valuable teaching tool.

loonyhiker said...

@miss odessa Thank you so much for sharing these activities! They sounded like so much fun and the students enjoyed the learning activities. What a great way to learn!