The things that make me different are the things that make me.- A. A. Milne
When it comes to tattling, I have the “blood, fire, vomit” rule. You know, don’t come tell me unless there is blood, fire or vomit. This generally works very well. They’ve learned what is important to tell me and what is small stuff. Cooperative learning isn’t always smooth sailing. 5 year olds have a casual relationship with sharing and taking turns. There are many times group activities have the potential to turn into a major disruption unless the activity is set up just right.
With iPads, cooperative learning is a breeze. My kids look forward to working with others. They love sharing, watching what their friends are doing and they love being “an expert” and showing others how to do things. Each child has something unique to bring to the group. Because they feel confident, they all participate. Today, we paired with another kindergarten class and my students worked with those students to teach them how to make books. This is the second time in 2 weeks 50 kids have come together in one classroom to learn from each other. There was plenty of conversation but there was no whining, tattling, or complaining. One hour of no tattling in a class of 50 kindergarten students is nothing short of a miracle.
As we begin to personalize learning and students are excited about what they are learning, it seems natural that many negative behaviors will go by the wayside. As learners actively participate in the design of their learning and have a voice in what they learn, they take ownership. They build a network of peers, teachers, and others to guide and support their learning. Think back to the last professional development training you had that really engaged you and spoke to you…you were focused and energized, and hopefully excited about the possibilities of what you learned. In contrast, think back to the last training you had that was not so engaging. Did you stay focused or were you more inclined to check Facebook on your phone or talk to those around you? Our students are no different.
As we here in the US move through our winter doldrums, let’s find ways to connect with the passions of our students. It all starts with them. The more we give them a choice and voice in their own learning, the less we have to use the “blood, fire and vomit” rule. I, for one, am ALL for that!