I’m re-listening to some of the Cathy Fosnot #notabookstudy interviews on Sound Cloud this summer. Today I am listening to Week 4. In this episode, the discussion is mostly about when to jump in and tell children how to do something, and how long you let them wade through the muck trying to figure it out on their own. She quoted Jean Piaget:
Further, she went on to talk about how even parrots can learn to repeat what has been told to them, but can we ever know what is understood versus what is just being repeated.
I have been thinking a lot about assessing just that. Because whether I told children how to follow a particular strategy or they had a peer show them how to solve a problem, I’m thinking it’s pretty rare for a child to just figure everything out on their own. Maybe an only child who is homeschooled would. But in a busy classroom there will always be someone who knows a strategy or figures out a strategy and then shows it to everyone else.
One of the things I’m thinking a lot about is what we ask in an interview with a child that helps us get to the heart of their understanding. It’s easy to see if they got the right answer or not. What’s harder is figuring out the thinking behind it.
I am currently reading a book called “Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading” by Vicki Vinton. Even though it is a book about teaching reading, I have made connection to assessing math understanding. On page 82, she shares a list titled “Steering the Ship: Teaching moves to support thinking and meaning making.” It lists things a teacher says to move students along in their thinking. Even though this month is dedicated to literacy related professional reading, I can’t help but see how some of the same moves would help in math. I have turned the suggested teaching moves into questions that could be asked during an interview, while coaching a child or group through problem, or even during a Number Talk.
Isn’t it great how teaching moves in one subject can be used over and over throughout the day regardless of the subject being taught?