I had a great class the other day. I was teaching a group of Masters students and we were talking about how to use social networks in schools. One student pointed out that social networks are relatively new – e.g. Facebook has only been around since 2004! Then we began chatting about how social networks are everywhere and whether they were useful in schools. THEN we moved onto social interactions in the real world…and then, after about 15 minutes on that topic, we came back to our original conversation. It took a while and we really had gone off track. But I never mind that….here’s why…
When we are working with children it’s the same thing. Sometimes we have to work hard to keep our little learners on track!
I never mind when the teaching wanders off topic. We know that learning happens when we (and our kids) can make connections to what we already know! So when during a maths lesson, a student says, “My gran has a new puppy!” (classic 5-year-old comment btw!), we know that something we have said has triggered a memory. Of course we can’t always just drop our train of thought or our sentence, but when we can it’s great to be able to ask ‘what made you think of that?’.
You’ll get some interesting Five-Degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon-type responses :0). There might be 5 steps in the connection between gran’s puppy and addition problems but there will be a link somewhere!
Learning happens when our kids can interact with each other (and with us) and connect new knowledge to what they already know.
So my Masters students weren’t actually entirely off-track in that conversation. They were connecting their knowledge of their offline world to the new learning about how social interactions work online. Great work team! Keep up the off-track chatter and hopefully the leaning will come!
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