Monday, January 23, 2012

Making Learning Visible

Last fall, 22 teachers from nine Rhode Island community and family childcare programs took a course called “Making Learning Visible,” in which they learned to engage their children in making how-to books. The books were a vehicle for 200 children to develop skills in literacy, sequencing (mathematics), language development and communication, and how to give thoughtful instructions for a step-by-step process.

This story of one child’s process and the learning that transpired as she presented her work to her classmates and teachers is on display on the documentation board in Discovery Studio. It shows how important their feedback was to her success.
Benedetta’s teachers began by asking the class what they were experts at. They named a range of abilities including soccer, scribbling, being silly and drawing. Benedetta responded that she knew how to make a pattern bracelet. Benedetta’s teacher, Jenah, asked her to explain how to make a pattern bracelet and transcribed her directions.

The directions were presented to the whole class for feedback. The group noted that Benedetta’s direction, “Put a purple, then a blue, then a purple,” was limiting. “What if someone wants to use other colors?,” they asked her.

Benedetta’s classmate Holden suggested, “Put a color 1 bead, then a color 2 bead, then a color 1 bead” as an alternative. Benedetta liked his wording and asked Jenah to add it to her directions.

Benedetta drew a picture for each step in the directions. When she got to the eighth step, Jenah asked, “How are you going to show that a color is bead one?” Benedetta’s solution: “Label a yellow dot (representing a bead) 1 and a pink dot 2.”

Prompted by Jenah, Benedetta recalled important moments from the book-making process: “I got feedback (from the whole group) and “how Holden told me color 1 and color 2 instead.”

When asked how she became a pattern bracelet expert, she said it was from watching her classmate, Orla, in the art area and learning the word ‘pattern’ from Jenah.

Benedetta and dozens of other children and their families came to the Museum on Friday evening to see their how-to books on display and try out some of the activities. Benedetta was particularly excited to see her story!

Ready to Learn Providence posted one of our favorite books, How to Fly Like Superman, and here's another one of our favorites:

A selection of the children’s how-to books will be on display in Discovery Studio through February 17 – drop by and check them out!

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