Sunday, May 5, 2013

What I think I Know About Farms

Connect: I decided to give the I used to I think routine a try with my ECE students. I however felt the need to modify the routine despite what it said in the book. I felt that preschool aged children would not be able to differentiate between what they new before and new learning or how their understanding had changed. So I decided to use it as an opportunity for a pre-assessment and to help the children understand that what they know already know is valued and important.

Extend: Instead of using the routine over the course of one time or one lesson, my plan is to use it throughout the unit in stages to help the children connect over time how their understanding of farms has changed. My hope is that by doing it in stages the children would be able to see this progression through their drawing and dictation.

What I did: I used the routine as a pre-assessment tool and an assessment tool throughout the unit to determine what the children had learned and how their thinking and understanding about farms had changed. Before doing any instruction on Farms I wanted to see what they already knew about them so I gave the children a sheet of paper that had the writing prompt "What I think I know about farms" and had the children illustrate and dictate whatever they had in their schema about farms. We then delved into our unit with a focus on traditional farms. The next time, I showed them what they had "written" earlier and tlaked with each of them about my expectation that they must write about "new" information they now know about farms. I then gave them a sheet of paper with the prompt "What I now know about the traditional farm is..." for them to illustrate and dictate any new learning.

Challenges: The challenge during this lesson was to determine when to prompt the children with a new writing reflection and how to do it. WOuld it be best to show them their illustration before having them write to the new prompt? or would that cloud their thinking and stagnate it to just copy what they had written before. I decided it would be best to show them their material but model how I wanted them to reflect new thinking through a different illustration and dictation. 

Reflection: The children's illustrations were still often quite basic with the addition of perhaps more animals or buildings. But with prompting and asking open ended questions i.e. "What more do you know..." during the discussion and dictation,  I was pleasantly surprised by the effort and elaboration of most students on what they had learned about farms. Only a few got really stuck and were not able to reflect too deeply on new understandings. In the end, I attributed the rather basic illustrations as more of a limitation of fine motor than in thinking. In other words, it was just challenging for them to draw everything they knew in a picture. When putting myself in their shoes, I thought it would be hard to illustrate what I was asking of them even considering my stronger sense of mental imagery and greater fine motor ability. So in the end, I was very proud they knew as much as they shared through their language with as much support as possible through their writing. Their thinking is the important part. 

1 comment:

  1. Leslie, in your reflection you brought up so many valid points. I too, was just trying to think about how I would show all of my knowledge around farms in a drawing, and it would be difficult. The prompting questions you were asking them seemed to really push their thinking though.

    The idea of synthesis and evolving thinking is such a crucial idea to grasp in terms of fostering life long learners, and it is so exciting to hear that you are doing it with such young kids. Yeah! If they are revising and adding onto their thinking at the age of four, the options are endless for the future. Thanks for sharing!