Experiencing Data

What am I finding as I collect data?

This week’s interaction with students was much more of an introduction than actual content instruction.  Our class iPad has not arrived yet, but fortunately my research is on devices and is not limited.  The teacher asked that I go over how to assemble the listening center.  There are three grades in within this combined classroom, and the teacher utilizes a rotation system so as best to meet the needs of the students.  However, the students need a sense of independent learning and capability.  Teaching them how to put together the listening center not only gives them a sense of ownership in the classroom, but it makes them capable of fixing tech problems themselves instead of interrupting the teacher for something as simple as an unplugged power chord (which has happened already).

What I found so interesting in this task is that there appears to be two mind sets present.  One says, “I don’t know what’s wrong with this, but I bet I can figure it out.”  While the other says, “This isn’t working.  It must be broken.  YOU fix it.”  The students with the “I can fix it” mindset were much more eager to participate in the activity with me.  At one point, I had a student reassemble the pieces to the listening center herself.  Her goal was for me to be able to hear the CD.  I had previously shown her where everything plugged into except for the power chord.  “You didn’t tell me where this goes,” she expressed, but she was looking around for something that made sense.

“No I didn’t,” I responded.  “But I bet you can figure out where it goes.”  Sure enough, she found a hole that looked like it would fit and she was very pleased with herself.  Once she completed the listening center, I disassembled it again.  I had a “you fix it” student do the assembly this time.  When she came to the power chord it became obvious she wasn’t watching the other student’s progress.  She didn’t know where to plug it in.  However, instead of looking for what was logical, she just started randomly placing the end of the chord all of the CD player and asking, “Is this where it goes?”  After a hint that power chords generally are in the back, she found the spot.  But when it came time to play the CD, there was no sound.  I asked her what was missing, and her answer was, “It’s broken.”  It turns out the volume was all the way down.

So I’m expecting interesting results with this project.  I’ll be conducting a reading level assessment and possible writing assessment on Monday, just so that I have something more measureable.  However, I am very excited for this learning experience!



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4 responses to “Experiencing Data

  1. Tracie Weisz

    Tiffany – great idea having the students take over this duty! Once they learn more about it, they’ll be far more likely to know what to do when things aren’t working like they want. I am chuckling about your “it’s broken” students! We’ve all seen them! The old saying about the squeaky wheel definitely applies here, and what has happened is that “we” (I include myself in this) as teachers tend to oblige kids too quickly when they immediately begin hollering for help after the first 2 seconds on a task. I think with the kids who are not quite so vocal about it we respond more constructively – guiding them to try a few things. But the noisy kids just make us want them to quit making that particular noise, so we rush to help them – and they learn quickly that we will! This is probably reinforced at home as well. What you are seeing puts that pretty clearly into perspective – they are not in problem solving mode at all. Their actions are not in any way logical (putting the plug into random places), and they are clearly not putting any thought into what they are doing. It’s not that they can’t think this way, but they’ve developed some habits of behavior that have put up barriers. How do we help them break these habits? Unfortunately it takes time, and it also means we have to put up with listening to “that noise” more than we care to! We definitely need to be giving kids more responsibility and more opportunities to take ownership over their learning, as well as opportunities for open-ended discovery. Otherwise, these bad habits of thinking (or non-thinking) become entrenched. They want assignments where they are told specifically what to do. Interesting stuff Tiffany!

  2. Tiffany, I like to see you being so patient and guiding them to how things work. This may be an explanation of why so many of us feel technically challenged! Maybe we need an attitude adjustment! Karen

  3. Hi Tiffany, I had to chuckle over your description of the two mind sets. I think that concept is a universal truth. From my mom who thinks everything is broken to my teenager who thinks that he can fix absolutely anything on any computer any time. So funny and so true. Thanks for your tip about the website on improving blogs. I really need that!

  4. Tiffany, I hear you and feel the frustration with how students respond to simple tasks. I suggest using some colorful marks to guide the students where to plug it the electronic devises. It seems to me that regardless of how clear your instructions are, some students need a little more attentions than others or you can spend about ten minutes to model to the students how to connect the devices in order to achieve your goal and save time.

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