January 20, 2016

Those lessons we don't plan...

I'm not entirely sure how it came about, but today we had a good talk about having what I referred to as a "critical eye". This is a bit different than those critical thinking skills you so often hear educators talk about.  
I've thought all afternoon about this blog post, trying to recall just how our discussion came to be, but that's the thing about teaching, sometimes the most incredible stuff just *happens* and there's no neat and tidy explanation for it. 

So we'll have to pretend this discussion came as a result of some profound cinema-worthy event and we all know the exact moment where the teacher's light-bulb went off.   

This morning I explained that having a critical eye means that in order to self-assess and have the confidence in their work that we all want them to, the boys and girls need to be able to look at their own work (or performance, game, whatever) and say, "Yes. This project, answer, quiz, you name it, demonstrates my knowledge and understanding. It's neat, precise, easy to read, makes sense and shows my teacher/coach/parent what I understand about xyz."  

When we teach children to think critically about their own work, habits and choices, we quite literally teach them how to be leaders, how to be successful, how to be problems solvers.

Self-assessment is the key here.  And this is not about nit-picking; but rather, this is looking at my own work and saying, "Is this my very best? Have I demonstrated the required understanding? Have I delivered something I'm proud of? Does this show my new learning?" And I'm sure there's more, but the key is that by teaching my students how to think critically about their own work,  suddenly their learning doubles and who doesn't love a bargain? 

Think about it, if just before you handed in an assignment, someone told you, "Now look at this with the eyes of a stranger," (cue The Payolas here) you'd likely be able to assess that piece very thoroughly and take it to a whole new level.  

We're going to continue this discussion tomorrow and my hope is that my students will be able to tell you all about it in their own words. 

I once found this photo/meme on Pinterest that said, "I do my best proofreading after I hit send" and oh my stars, can I ever relate. Well, my hope is that I can teach my students how to do that BEFORE hitting sender-oo. 

Right now, there's an apple spice cake in the kitchen calling my name. While I eat a giant piece, I shall reflect on my apple-to-spice ratio and consider what I'll do differently the next time I make it! ;)


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