What Works for You

I saw a TED video on doodling the other day.  One of the things that the presenter was adamant about is that doodling is a way to help a doodler process information and think of ideas. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fx0QcHyrFk  She got me thinking about why many educators and people outside of education (politicians especially) think that what works for one student will work for all.

The fact is that modern education is aimed at the middle ability kids in school.  While that is the case there is loads of room within most curriculums for teachers to both challenge and support students from all ability levels.  Not only that but many students fluctuate in their ability depending on the task or subject.  I have had many students who struggle with Number in math but are great at Shape.

This is part of the reason that I make sure that when I introduce topics like the lattice method for multiplication, I always tell the students the following. “I am going to show you this and I want to you try it and understand it, but you may find that it isn’t the best method for you.  If that is the case then you don’t have to use it.  But for some of you this will be the “Aha” moment in understanding this math concept.”  I have consistently had about 1/3 of the class love it, 1/3 like it okay, and 1/3 hate it!  That being said, by showing them this technique I may have just opened up this math concept for a group of students who had struggled up until this point.

I am finding with our iPad program, that this is the case with all of the apps.  We are currently working on a device iTunes account method but are thinking of changing this to an individual student iTunes account.  This will not only make it easier for management of the iPads but it will mean that students have a bit more freedom to personalize their iPads.  They would be able to look for free apps that work for them.  It took me 3 different to-do apps in order to find the one that I finally like.  This is the same for students.  I have found that I show them apps, but that not all of them like them.  That is okay, because the purpose of the iPads is to have a learning tool that works for them.  With the individual iTunes accounts the students in our school would be able to explore apps to find the one that fits them the best.

I think that iPads are only one way to help students find what works for them.  I have noticed that the longer the iPads are in the rooms, the less some students choose to work on them.  Some students prefer doing things without the iPad when they are given a choice.  Finding what works for each student is all part of what makes teaching both hard and exciting at the same time.  There are so many ways to reach children, and when you finally do reach them it is an awesome experience!

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