Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why are we doing this Mr. Carlsen?

As my class and I get further and further into blogging, I find some of my students questioning why we would bother with this whole process. This is a very good sign that they would be asking this sort of question. It's the same question that I ask myself all of the time. Why are we doing this? Is it helping?

Well let me tell you why we are doing this. Often, it seems, many of us in our school struggle with math and science even though we are extremely intelligent and capable. Why is this? It is because we have not developed enough academic language to meaningfully talk about the things that we are learning. In math class you may have an "Ah ha" moment but unless you have the ability to communicate the idea that you just understood, your brain will not hold on to it because you didn't ask your brain to do anything with it.

Make your learning last!
 It's like writing on the sidewalk with chalk. As soon as the rain comes along, your new ideas are lost. But if you take some paint and copy over your chalk, the ideas will stay there longer. If you take a chisel and carve out your sidewalk art, your ideas will stay there for ever. When you do the work in class and figure something out, that is like writing on the sidewalk with chalk. When you explain your ideas to someone else and use the academic words to describe your ideas, that is like painting over your ideas. When you write your new ideas down and create explanations and ways of understanding, that is like taking a chisel to the side walk. I want all of you to take a chisel to the world and make your learning last!

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