It’s only the end of September and students, teachers and parents are already asking me if my classroom is building the igloo this winter. Of course we will be!! Every year, my students collect over 300 gallon-sized jugs starting in October to build a life sized igloo in the winter months. This is a perfect example of how I foster experienced-based learning in my classroom. During the cross curricular subjects of the Arctic, students are actively engaged in learning and obtaining a deeper knowledge of the subject. From past experiences, it is evident that they retain the knowledge gained through this approach far more readily than through traditional textbook-centered learning.
Last year, I was lucky enough to present at the First New Jersey Educator’s Conference titled, “Raising the Bar: Educational Approaches that Go Beyond the Labels”. My presentation focused on the difference between facilitating “discovery” and “teaching” in the classroom. The workshop looked at how through asking the right questions and providing specific kinds of experiences, educators can assess a child’s foundational capacities that support the comprehension of academic content. In order for children to internalize concepts, they must make them their own. Providing opportunities for the “discovery” of the “meaning” of concepts allows even the most diverse learners to develop true comprehension and knowledge. During the presentation, I showed the process of the life-sized igloo in my room. I explained that although I provided the students with the jugs, I had them discovery how to build it through trial and error. Then once they built it, I asked many thought provoking without telling the students all about igloos. They asked questions and I helped scaffold questions to lead them to problem solving a solution.
I leave you with this thought. Wouldn’t it be great if all schools could put the textbooks down and have the students participate in high impact lessons inclusive of emotional components? Then they could capture and tap into the students’ affect and interest, thus supporting deeper connections and understanding of targeted concepts. I am lucky that Celebrate the Children allows me to use experienced based teaching in my classroom. It was nice to start the year reflecting on my teaching methodology. I will be sure to share a picture of our igloo this winter including some of the questions my students ask and some of the questions I will ask to get them problem solving. (Jennifer Robak, Teacher, Celebrate the Children)
Contributions to this blog are made by Celebrate the Children's highly talented, interdisciplinary team and wonderful families.