Friday, April 24, 2009

Inaugural Think Block Lesson

My kids and I sat down with the Think Blocks today to discuss parts of the flower. They identified stem, roots, leaves, petals and also added water, sun and dirt. We set the latter 3 off to the side -- I wasn't sure what to do with them.

When I asked what a flower is part of, one student said "NATURE!" So then we talked about what makes up nature. The kids came up with trees, feathers, birds, people, grass, houses and toys. When I asked if houses and toys went with the others, one student said, "no! they don't grow!" YES! We have lift-off!

That led to what nature was a part of... the Earth. Houses, people, water, America, recycling were all thrown out and parts of the Earth. What was Earth a part of? The overwhelming answer was God. Well, okay. I could have predicted that. So I talked briefly about what the universe was and then recapped from the beginning ("So let's ask one more time, what are the parts of a flower? And the flower is a part of what?" Etc.) and ended the lesson.

Then we talked about our brains and why they hurt.

  • The lesson on part/whole that ThinkWorks detailed on their blog made my brain hurt. Don't get me wrong, it was great, but I really really struggled on how to use it with my kids. Being from Ithaca (here's my shout-out!), and coming from an academic family, I smiled as I read it because all I could think was, "this is so academic, so Ithaca... must simplify." So this was a pared-down version for a first lesson to Title I ESOL kids.
  • I liked the part/whole concept and realized my kids need assistance is thinking in this matter.
  • This way of teaching is very abstract compared to what I am used to which made it difficult to begin, but once I got rolling I could see how it benefits the kids.
  • Admittedly I had to count on two of my higher-level thinkers to really guide the rest of class. Which was fine, but...
  • Admittedly, only a handful more were actually guided. There were a heck of a lot of blank stares.
  • I will not draw on them all that much because the kids focused more on the drawing ("let me see! I can't see") rather than the idea. When I left them blank or simply put the first letter of the idea on each block it worked better.
  • It was a good start. Now I need to chat with colleagues to get more ideas.


organized chaos said...

I wonder if the more you do it the more the "blank stares" will start to have light bulbs. Since it is a brand new way of thinking they may need more exposure and immersion first, but I don't think it means they wont get it at all.
Your first lesson sounds like it was awesome. I haven't used them whole group and I'm kind of jealous. I think my kiddos with special needs would benefit from seeing it used whole group first.

Unlimited said...

Your comment about part/whole hit me... this is something that students struggle with continually. I am dealing with the part/whole in math, where it is equally complex and difficult for students to grasp. Perhaps this pattern of thinking across the curriculum would be the best way to tackle such thinking complexities. Hm... Sounds like it went well for the first run!