Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Exploration Stations Update

What's in a Name? Yes, Exploration Stations is a new name for Centres.  (The same way Disco is the same thing as Dance music).  I like what L calls her play time: ICE Time.  It stands for Imagination, Creation and Exploration.  Maybe as my stations use more imagination or creation, I steal her moniker.

What Do I Do When I Don't know What to Do?
For me, the really interesting thing for these stations is going back and looking at the students' Thought Logs (aka journals).  I like seeing what they walk away with in each experience.  I think I may have mentioned before that my school is interested in Self Regulation.  Before I began the stations, I asked my students what they do when they have a problem, when they don't know what to do, when they get stuck, etc.  They came up with suggestions like: "Ask my mom."  "Tell the teacher."  "Call the police."  "Find a supervisor."  I was surprised!  All of their responses were variations on "Ask an adult for help."  I pointed this out to my students and was met with blank stares as if they were saying to me, "Well, what else are we supposed to do?"

Fast forward to a week of Exploration Stations, discussions, and of course, Thought Log entries.  Here are some new suggestions of what they noticed about what they do when they are confronted with a new situation:
  • Start small and start with something easy.
  • Take turns and work with others. 
  • Watch what other people do.
  • Take a break and try again.
  • Try it a different or random way.
  • Stop and look.
  • Compare it to something else I know.
  • Just keep trying.
  • Ask myself questions.
  • Get closer.  Things look different and you might notice something new. 
  • Work together.
  • Talk to myself.
  • Help someone else first. 
A Shift in my Role
My job is to go through their Thought Logs and sift out their learning, and show it back to them so they can use these same strategies in other situations.  They are really starting to get that by playing around with these stations and with different ideas, they are learning how to learn, and they can apply these same techniques to all kinds of learning.  Very cool.

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