Monday, September 10, 2007

Learning Processes #1

This past Wednesday I observed that one of the ways that you sometime pick up information is through collaboration, even if it means collaboration with your 8th grade students. On my first day of practicum in U.S. History class the students were handed back their world maps from the teacher where they had to color in each country depending on which continent it was in. For the most parts the students got everything right, but when it came to islands…that was a trouble point. You can’t blame the students. It’s hard to tell whether Bali is part of Asia or Australia and whether Cuba should be put under North America or South America or whether Iceland is part of North America or Europe. Anyway, I did happen to know almost all of the answers because I LOVE maps, and have studied them a lot, and done a fair amount of traveling. However, a few really threw me off, especially islands in the Indian or Pacific Oceans. I didn’t even know whether Cuba should be labeled North or South America…and I STUDIED in CUBA. Actually, I was fairly sure it should be South America, since Central America or the Caribbean were not options, and it is a Hispanic island. But not according to their textbook, which labels it is as North America. I learned a lot during this lesson, but especially that one of the ways we learn is to work together, to contest conclusions and to come to final answers as a group, even when there is dispute, we are learning in the process. The students and I may not have a final answer on whether Cuba is in North or South America, but they now know that the island is Hispanic, they speak Spanish, it is in the Caribbean, and some other facts I shared. It was a fun learning experience for me, especially with a diverse class who could all provide some valuable input.

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