Day 12: Organizing Kids’ Thinking

Thursday, 28 August 2014


A big question for me as a teacher of high school freshmen (ages 13-15) came up today: is it my job to model organization of notes when I lecture, demo, or otherwise speak to the class? The new freshmen seem to think so.

So we’re talking about wave reflection and interference when one kid asks me for what is essentially an outline. I had been building up these ideas sequentially but she wanted to know how many items there would be up front. As in, “there are two types of wave reflections and those are…” I hadn’t done that in the past because it felt like revealing spoilers.

How much responsibility does a lecturing teacher have to outline notes for students at ages 13-15?

I feel obliged to mention here that I don’t lecture that much, lest y’all think I’m one of those teachers.

On this day last year: Snakey Standing Waves


2 thoughts on “Day 12: Organizing Kids’ Thinking

  1. I do think it’s important to be a model of good note-making, because it shows students how experienced thinkers organize their brains. If you were putting together your own notes for a subject, you’d probably approach them like the student was asking for you to do it — but that would only be after you had already explored the concept, which is what you’re talking about doing mid-note-taking here. Is there any way to have a scratch board and final concept notes going at once?

    Or, you could just make a distinction and say that these are exploration based notes, which will not be presented in the same way as notes taken after already having figured something out.

    • I guess my biggest issue here is that I abhor “giving notes”. That said, I was doing just that last Thursday so it’s probably a good idea to be the best note-giver I can possibly be.

      To your question, if I were putting together my own notes, I would outline only after exposure to all the material. This kid jumped the gun by asking for an outline at the outset.

      I’ve begun restructuring “exploration notes” as labs, which I think helps matters.

      How do you get across key vocabulary, build complex ideas, and give examples?

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