Encoding Long-Term Learning

Hallway Traveling

Traveling down the hallway is an art.  Children should be engaged in a constant thinking mode.  There are two types of thinking that can be occurring.  The first type is internal thinking.

Internal thinking is when a student is contemplating the answer to a challenge that has been presented.  The student who is exhibiting internal thinking tends to walk slower and face forward.  You can even observe the concentration on the student’s face.  We often say, “I can see his wheels turning,” when internal thinking is occurring.  The moment a child arrives at an answer or possible solution, the student’s entire demeanor changes.  The facial expression becomes excited, the arms tend to move about, and the pace of the steps increases.

At times, this excited behavior can get out of hand if many students try to share their ideas with their teacher all at once in the middle of the hall.  Therefore, we must instill the desired response before the assignment is made.  We must also expect the correct behavior because students will live up to our expectations!

When students arrive at a solution to one of your challenges, they should be instructed to file it in a special place and in a special way in their brain so they do not forget it.  This is also called external thinking.  Tell students that they should always be thinking of challenges for you and the other students.  When they think of a good question or challenge, they should write it down on an “I Wonder Why” card upon returning to class.  The “I Wonder Why” cards should be available in a centrally located place in the classroom.  When students fill one out, they place it in a designated box, basket, bowl, etc.  Then, when other students have spare time after they have finished an assignment, they can get an “I Wonder Why” card and try to find the answer.  The student looking for the answer to the challenge is called the Researcher.  Upon finding the answer, the Researcher should write the answer on the back of the card and place it in a box for “solved” cases.  Occasionally, the teacher should read aloud what has been “solved” to the whole class.  This makes for a nice sponge activity on a Friday afternoon.

We have now established the positive procedure for lining up and conducting ourselves while walking down the hallway.  The challenge at this time becomes developing enough learning opportunities to keep our children engaged wherever they go.

The constructive teacher’s class is the most refreshing to see.  They are the students who are happy, content, and appear very pre-occupied because they are often in deep thought.  They may be pondering an answer or developing challenges for their classmates.  They will not be running and disturbing others, as they have been taught to respect those around them and their teacher expects them to make good decisions.   The teacher will often be involved with her class.  She may be communicating with the whole group and in “deep thinking discussion” with an individual.  Should this teacher need to speak with another adult in the hall, the class will continue being intrinsically motivated.  They will not start acting out because they have an enormous respect for their teacher as well as great pride in themselves.  In the rare event that a student acts out inappropriately, the constructive teacher will simply position himself beside that student.  The correction of the student will not happen in front of others.  It will happen discretely, complete with the reasoning as to why it cannot occur again.  The constructive teacher remains happy, proud, and content with her class.

The destructive teacher handles this much differently.  Her students cause no trouble in the hall.  Their faces appear blank, not curious.  Their stance is likely to be perfect.  This class tends to receive accolades from other adults in the hall.  They are respectful out of fear.  These students tend to get in more trouble when participating in extra-curricular activities than students who have a constructive teacher.  When the destructive teacher is out of sight, her students tend to act out as they do not have a reason to be intrinsically motivated nor the ability to display self-monitoring.  Please understand that there is a difference between students who are acting great out of fear from external forces and those students who are acting great out of intrinsic forces.

The obstructive teacher’s students can be heard a mile away.  They are rarely in any type of line or organizational pattern.  They are talking to one another, often arguing.  Sometimes they are even pushing and shoving.  They seem to have little respect for adults or each other.  Other adults often find it necessary to redirect the obstructive teacher’s students.

As you can clearly see, students from the three different types of teachers are easily discernible.  And again I ask, which teacher are you?  Do you find yourself consistently being one or another, or do you tend to be different towards your students on different days?

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The Written Performance

If all of the rehearsal techniques are in place early on, then the brain and the body are well prepared for a brilliant written performance!  If the rehearsal is neglected, the performance is sure to suffer.  Now that the student author has rehearsed, writing may begin!  So the next time early primary teachers ask what they can do to help students learn how to write you can emphasize the extremely important role they play.  For it is they who lay the foundation for all the years to come!  If it is not strong, it will surely not endure the test of time.  Thus, teachers down the road will be correcting a weak foundation instead of decorating the house with fancy curtains!

The Stage is Now Set for Teaching Writing…….

“Congratulations!  YOU have just been chosen to be a part of a performance on a Broadway stage!  The performance is tonight!  Everybody will be here to see how talented you are.  Sure, some people will be here to see other performers, but your work will be on display the whole time.  So do your best.  I know you can do it.  Let’s get started…”

I would be scared beyond belief if these words had just been spoken to me.  I have always been partial to rehearsing before performing in front of people.  Especially if that performance is a story that I am writing that will be displayed in the hallway for Open House!  Every time a student picks up a pencil and meets it to paper, that should be considered a performance.  If we treat it as such, then the time for rehearsal will be deemed important, and therefore the performance will shine!

The written performance begins with letters, words, sentences, and personal pride.  Foster the author’s emerging compositions by teaching in-depth idea development. Add all of that together, and a budding author is born!  Salt it with emotional voice and amazing lexicon, and an incredible author is revealed in the debut written performance of a lifetime!  Couple that performance with a few more successful performances, and talent is realized.  When this writing talent is fostered, confidence grows.  Thus the end result is not only a great score on the state writing test, but a passion for writing that no one can ever take away.  This passion will then make that writing test a place to display talent, not a source of stress and fear!  So let’s explore the rest of this amazing journey called written communication!

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