Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The Power of "I Don't Know"

What if a student asked a question and  a teacher simply replied, "I don't know"? This answer gives students incredible power.

Last week, I was working with grade 9 & 10 students on how to create a bibliography. I flipped the lesson by allowing the students to read the Smore lesson (link above) and then taking it up as a group. By letting them explore the lesson on their own, the class had plenty to talk about during the review.

After that, I gave them the "Perfect Score" task to do with minimal help from me.

There were certainly a lot of questions. I referred them back to a place in the Smore lesson. I let them struggle. When they didn't understand what was being asked of them, I told them about my Art & Inquiry MOOC experience this summer. We, the students, came up with a consensus of interpreting the instructions. In a class of over 17,000 students, no teacher would be able to answer all of the questions. We discussed how MOOCs may become the learning of the future. Even if it doesn't, I can't follow them to college or university and help them do their homework. (Yes, after this comment, I get many invitations.)

And then I witnessed something amazing: I saw the students who "got it" emerge as natural teachers and lead the other students through the task. This dynamic can be seen in Sugata Mitra's Ted Talk:  "The Child-Driven Education".

When students still had questions, I replied with "What do you think?" Then I asked them to support their reasoning. If they resisted answering, I asked them to guess and tell me why they had made that hypothesis.

Yes, this process took longer than if I had lectured them about creating citations. But the learning wouldn't have stuck.

Kinda reminds me of this Google Search Story:

Image credits:
Spread Of Knowledge, Conceptual Artwork.Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 4 Oct 2013.http://quest.eb.com/images/132_1245176

SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006). Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 8 Oct 2013.http://quest.eb.com/images/144_1547767

The Knowledge Totem Pole. Photo. Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 4 Oct 2013.http://quest.eb.com/images/167_4033838

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