Kindergarten Approach to Learning LCL Mitchel Resnick 2007

Reflections on reading for LCL MOOC: Author = Mitchel Resnick 2007: direct quotes from his essay are in regular font, my reflections on them are in italics.

“This paper argues that the “kindergarten approach to learning” – characterized by a spiraling cycle of Imagine, Create, Play, Share, Reflect, and back to Imagine – is ideally suited to the needs of the 21st century, helping learners develop the creative-thinking skills that are critical to success and satisfaction in today’s society.”

my first reaction is that you need a foundation of content and skills in reading, writing, and mathematics to be able to analyze the ideas of others and communicate your own. trial-and-error is an expensive and time-consuming method of learning; I’d like to give students the tools to imagine, explore, and reflect at a deeper, more sophisticated level.

“My focus here is on what researchers have called “little c” creativity – that is, creativity within one’s personal life – not “big C” Creativity that transforms the boundaries of an entire discipline or domain. The goal is not to nurture the next Mozart or Einstein, but to help everyone become more creative in the ways they deal with everyday problems.”

on the other hand, starting an inquiry with a question of “why” and “why not” is a terrific way to build engagement and energy in students. the scientific method that I teach every day starts with an observation and a question. “What is that?” or “Why does this do that?”, leading to a hypothesis, or testable statement, I think is the essence of creativity.

[Tom Lough: Another type of question I promote is “What would happen if …?” This is an action type of question that motivates “I don’t know. Let’s try it and find out together!” Then, based on the results, we are often able to frame a “I wonder why …?” question as a follow-up.]

Just for the record, at the charter school where I teach, we are not a “kit” school. by that I mean that we create our math and science inquiries from whatever junk we have lying around. so when Mitchel says: “Our goal is to provide tools that can be used in multiple ways, leaving more room for children’s imaginations.” I know exactly what he is talking about. irobot donated two robots for use in our nascent robotics program. we have LEGO mindstorms, but they’re not currently in use.

We find a tremendous amount of creativity in our Science Olympiad team. this will be our second year of competition, and the combination of competition, very tight game rules, and the opportunity for originality is a heady mix. it’s like kindergarten, but you have to know some basic concepts of physics, chemistry, and engineering.

“In my mind, play and learning can and should be intimately linked. Each, at its best, involves a process of experimentation, exploration, and testing the boundaries.”

We started a unit on geometry by playing with Archimede’s Stomachion. there was trial and frustration, but the thought that this success is within reach, and a few “that’s a question for you, and not for Mr. Blakney…” but more than half the students in each section were able to construct a right triangle which used all 14 pieces of the puzzle. maybe I’m starting to see the kindergarten opportunities in my classroom that were there all along…

“Children in Reggio are constantly producing drawings and diagrams as they work on projects. Teachers use these artifacts to engage the children in discussing and reflecting on their design process and thinking process.”

maybe I need a new definition of “reflection”. my 6th grade boys do not seem predisposed to reflect, to sit quietly and think about their work and write or communicate about what they have learned and what new questions have come up. I know that they can be reflective, I’m just not sure when and how it happens. maybe I need a new model of discussion that allows for shouting out and intermittent engagement(students who are alternately on and off-task)


About gblakney

Middle School Mathematics Teacher, passionate EdTech user who loves to experiment with new methods and tools in the classroom. Following the lead of Dan Meyer and Jo Boaler, I create a safe place for kids to discover the fun and beauty of maths. I use Number Talks and Groupwork to make maths accessible for all of my students. I enjoy Mathematics and I'm enthusiastic about teaching; the kids really respond to that.
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