Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Connecting the dots

No, not to make pretty pictures. In teaching a unit or concept, one goal I have is for students to make connections to other concepts, possibly text-to-text, text-to-world, or text-to-self. The more prior knowledge they have, the richer the connections, discussions, and understandings. Many times, teachers end up having to reach and stretch the dots closer together, or even build bridges for the correct perceptions.

At home, we definitely try to help them connect dots.  After watching Turbo, we went home and got all our Cars books and toys out because both were about racing (text-to-text, where the "text" is a movie).  Maybe brains at 4 and 6 aren't mature enough yet, but we can try with things like, "What does this remind you of?" or "This character is like..."

Some funny "connections" from my youngest when he was 3:
  • He's sitting crisscross applesauce, occupied with a toy. After his attention span gets the better of him, he rises awkwardly and rubs his foot back and forth. His face winces. He's not so sure about this new tingling feeling. "Mommy! Help! My foot's buffering!"
  • The two boys and I braved the zoo that is Costco.  We had some extra time, so we sit down at the food court to enjoy our meal. An elderly man walks by the outer aisle to find a seat. He politely glances at the boys, who are laughing at something, and I give the man a small smile. He and his turban drift further away from us when Jesse looks up and whispers with a small gasp, "Mom, a genie!"
  • Our fridge failed its mission. Food no longer cold, ice no longer solid. What we can salvage finds a temporary home at my mom's house. We set up an appointment for a repairman who, the next day, shows up and investigates. He speaks to my husband, in his Russian or Russian-like accent, about the problem, the part, how much. I finally come home, and Jesse runs, hugs, and then informs me, "Mom, the man's fixing our fridge. He speaks Spanish."

In all of these instances, he was being so sincere. I stifle my giggle, and after each misundestood dot-connection, a conversation follows, a bridge constructed to connect the correct dots.  With any new experience, we find it valuable that he expresses his thoughts, so if he perceives something wrong that could come back even worse, especially if it deals with race, we're on it.

So many jokes get told with the cloak of humor, and we try to convey that it's not funny if it's at someone else's expense, and we're sure to address that race is not a laughing matter.  The Kids React to Cheerios commercial  is an awesome example of how kids are connecting their own dots the right way.  Bury "boys will be boys."

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