Sometimes you have to start small.
This week, I learned that sometimes you have to break lessons down into smaller steps. Baby steps. You have to learn to walk before you can run.
Of course, I already know this rule. I’ve learned it before. I mean, it’s obvious, right? All good teachers know how to take a task and break it down into its simplest parts in order for children to understand and absorb it.
But… I got a little overzealous this week while my Second Graders were exploring information text. The children were excited to research a question they had wondered. The goal was to find an answer to their question in our classroom library and use this information to create a poster. The students’ enthusiasm was contagious, and I was thrilled that they were so interested and engaged. We broke out the crayons, markers, and big white poster paper.
As I was conferring with the kids and reading their research, I realized that I had missed a step. A big step. An important step. In my zeal and enthusiasm, I had not taught my Second Graders how to organize their ideas into a coherent paragraph. Their posters were beautiful– they included headings, illustrations, diagrams, labels and captions, but the information was not well-organized and sometimes it did not even answer the question!
So, what did I do? I stood in front of my class and confessed that I had made a mistake. “I was so excited!” I admitted sheepishly. And then we broke out the power writing umbrella organizers.
Baby steps. You have to learn to walk before you can run. Baby steps.
Also this week (but unrelated to my non-fiction misstep), I had a breakthrough in my technology learning. I created my first iMovie. Without having any prior experience with this software, I visited a colleague’s classroom and watched her create a movie.
“Hmm. It looks easy enough!” I thought to myself. However, when I opened iMovie on my own, without anyone there to support my learning, it was not nearly as easy as anticipated. I played around unsuccessfully for a few minutes and then recalled Ashley’s post from earlier in the week. Yep, I googled it.
After watching a tutorial online (which, by the way, was created by a boy who looked like he was in sixth grade), I was finally able to put my imported video clips in order. I had to watch the video a few times to see the steps broken down for me. Once I got the hang of using this new tool and gained confidence, I figured out ways to improve my very basic movie, such as adding titles and even short music clips. To say I was proud of myself is a HUGE understatement. Is it the most professional, seamless movie? No. Is it a successful first effort? Absolutely. Now that I’ve made an iMovie, I can certainly use this tool again and expand on what I learned.
“Hmm.” I mused. “This is how our kids feel when they get it.” All learners, whether children or adults, need to start small.
Learner, Thinker, Writer: Samantha Steinberg teaches Second Grade at Trinity School.