Percolating Time

So, when I decided to write a blog, I envisioned myself sitting down at my kitchen table and spending an hour here, an afternoon there, writing. Well, I was wrong. Well mostly wrong. Often I start a blog that way. Maybe a paragraph or just a sentence. But I have learned from writing letters to parents or articles for school newsletters, that I need to think through an idea in my head and then let it flow. So it is with my blog posts. I often find myself getting out of bed and heading to the kitchen and standing at my counter and letting my thoughts push out of my fingers onto my keyboard. Why am I telling you all this? Because I think sometimes we expect our students to be given assignments and expect them to get right down to it, particularly with our writing assignments.

As we get ready to start a new school year, I think we need to take this idea into consideration. How do we include percolating time into our school day? How can we let students create connections to new ideas, concepts, math procedures before they are expected to construct an assignment?

Could you add a minute or two the lesson at the end, just to think about what was just taught, discussed, introduced? Now, you may be saying that the students may not actually think about the lesson. You may be right but giving them a “brain break” may actually give them time to process the information. Eric Jensen suggests “do what you can to give students a way to let the content settle. Ideas include taking time for breaks…” (Teaching with the Brain in Mind, 2005).

What about a “brain dump?” Letting the students write down everything they remember about the lesson.

When it comes to writing, give the topic or the writing genre ahead of time. Maybe include the writing assignment in a Morning Message (for all of you Responsive Classroom teachers). This way the students have time to think about what they want to write about for the assignment. Thinking maps are a great way to get the ideas out there before actually writing. Maybe that could be the homework for the night, just writing down ideas. You have then given them time to process the assignment and time to think of ideas in the privacy of their home. For those who get frustrated with classmates who can get right to work, this eliminates one element of frustration.

When I taught Kindergarten, I soon learned which students needed me to do a mental 3-5 count before I prompted their answer. They truly need to process their responses and when rushed to answer immediately when I called on them meant I received no answer or a poor one. This was not an accurate measure of what they knew nor the quality answer they were capable of giving. We need to remember that a “3-5 count” is needed at other times as well.

So after several starts and stops, this blog post is done. How do you let ideas or lessons percolate for students? Share your thoughts (@edtechease on Twitter and on Facebook or on Instagram (edtechease). 

Originally posted on  Thursday, 16 August 2018.

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