Haven't you ever wondered what it would be like to be a student at your school? Not just a student in your classroom, but a student that goes through the entire day, and plays around on recess? When teachers at John Mahlstedt's school were offered the chance to participate in such an experiment, he took advantage of the opportunity. After spending a full school day going through an 8th grade schedule at his California middle school he posted a full blog post of his findingsover on his blog "What is 5?".
What did he discover? Well for one, if multitasking is hard enough for adults, it is definitely going to be hard for kids. This especially applies to moments in class when students are supposed to be taking notes and the teacher continues talking, as he writes "Students can either copy something down, or listen. Most can’t do both. I know I couldn’t. As I was sitting there in class copying down notes, that’s all that was going through my brain. I was saying the words, thinking about spelling, making sure I had copied correctly, re-reading it to myself. I heard the teacher talking, but I had no clue what he or she was saying, and I was really trying to pay attention..."
Another thing to note is the importance of student discussion in the classroom. Having kids sit and take notes is "usually pretty boring (for both students and teachers)." But, having a discussion with his middle school "classmates" actually helped him become a better problem solver. "One of the most obvious examples of beneficial student-to-student talk during my day involved the warm-up in my math class. ... it was a number puzzle with 3 levels of difficulty. I got through the first two levels quickly, but had to really think about the most difficult one. We got a chance to share our thinking with our group, and none of us had figured it out yet. However, when we all started sharing what we noticed about the problem, one of the other students said something that immediately helped me figure out how to solve the problem. If I had been sitting there on my own thinking about it by myself, I may never have figured it out."
This post details his entire day and has more insights than I can list here. The post is definitely worth a read, and the experiment is perhaps worth replicating at your own school.
Written by: Carl Oliver (@Carloliwitter)