Posted in 2017, Reflection, Slice of Life

#SOL17 Day 23: Misconceptions

Tonight we came home from a 4-day Spring Break trip to Chicago. In the past four days, we ate our fill of pizza and hot dogs; toured the Field Museum, Navy Pier, Chicago Children’s Museum, and Museum of Science and Industry; walked up and down State Street and Michigan Avenue; and (of course) shopped. My children have seen their first skyscrapers, taken their first bus rides, and touched their first dinosaur bones. It has been a magical and exhausting couple of days.

As we drove home this evening, we made a quick stop for gas and dinner. As we sat down with our last vacation Happy Meals, my kids excitedly recounted their favorite parts of the trip. They chatted nonstop about the Great White Sharks at the Omnimax, their theories about how all the animals died at the Field Museum (a topic that has been heavily debated over the past 48 hours), and the dinosaur skeletons they got to see.

All of a sudden, my son–who recently turned five–got very serious. “You know, Mommy,” he said. “I used to think Chicago was going to be a bunch of trains. But now I realize that it’s a whole city!”

I was a little shocked, not because he had thought Chicago meant a bunch of trains, but by the fact that he was able to identify his misconception and tell me all about how his thinking had changed in the past few days.

This, I thought, is what real learning looks like.

My son viewing a whole city of trains at the Museum of Science and Industry. This is what I imagine he thought Chicago would look like!

I had explained Chicago to him many times. We had talked about all of the things we could see. But until he actually experienced a few days in the city, he didn’t truly understand what it all meant.

So I sit here tonight wondering: How do we get to the heart of our students’ misconceptions? How do we help them experience the things they don’t understand? How can we get learners to recognize and articulate when their thinking has changed?

I don’t have quick answers to any of these questions, but I do have a new understanding of how important it is to take the time to truly listen to the kids around us. Of how essential it is to appreciate the times when we get to experience their misconceptions rising to the surface as their thinking changes. And of how amazing it is to observe learning happening right before our eyes.

My husband, son, and daughter “experiencing” the city on a bus ride to the museums.

I’m excited to join other writers every Tuesday (and daily during the month of March) in 2017 to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge through Two Writing Teachers. Read all about how you can Write. Share. Give. on their website here.
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Teacher, mentor, reader, writer, mother, wife Lover of good books, chocolate chip cookies, and sunny days

11 thoughts on “#SOL17 Day 23: Misconceptions

  1. In response to your lovely, thoughtful post, and to the writer above who refers to ELLs, I relied a lot on post-its when we were reading something to “check” on their understanding. They loved them, because they invited “short but sweet” responses. I loved them because they worked for keeping track of their thinking. This would work during a discussion just as well. Nice trip; love the family photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how you took the learning of your 5-year-old and related to our students! You are so right about the importance of listening to our students and giving them time to reflect on their learning!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That “truly listen” – intentional listening – advice is dead on. We have to be able to hear what’s going on in students’ minds. When I started kindergarten, my stern teacher said in an ominous tone: “Class, it’s time to be quiet. I am going to call The Roll.” I thought The Roll was something like a police officer who would come after us if we didn’t get quiet – took me a while to realize she called our names after this announcement each day! And – you have a beautiful family!

    Liked by 1 person

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