Thursday, August 23, 2018
Yesterday, I was doing drop ins and went into a classroom working on a unique activity. Students were working collaboratively in order to fold paper. At first glance, this activity could seem useless. However, by asking, “what’s this all about”? I learned that there was so much more behind this small, seemingly menial, task.
This paper-folding activity was big part of building a foundation.
The teacher showed students what the end product should look like and sent them off to create their own. It looked like an activity that was easily and quickly conquered. Upon looking more closely at the assignment, students quickly realized there was much more to folding this piece of paper than initially met the eye. Through this activity, students were forced to work together in order to solve a problem, ask questions, think critically and create something new. At the end, most students were unsuccessful in the time frame given. So, how did this task build a foundation?
Learning is hard. By asking students to complete a task that was not easily accomplished quickly, the teacher opened the door to a discussion. They were able to talk about the process of completing the task as a team. Additionally, they were able to talk about what happened when they were unsuccessful which lead into a discussion of mindset. The teacher masterfully facilitated a reflective dialogue that allowed students to begin to understand the power of failure and its role in success. It’s important that we talk about these things with kids. Because, learning is hard.
It’s often easy to dismiss opportunities like this as “fluff” or “not in the curriculum.” But, I would argue that the curriculum can’t be conquered without taking time to experience and reflect upon the learning process.