The readings for today focused again on what we learn and strategies that we can implement into curriculum that will allow students to learn effectively. The first chapter was about essential questions, which are open ended, thought provoking, encourage high order thinking, and so on. They differ greatly from lead questions, which are more so questions that require basic, factual knowledge of a concept. Instead, a question such as “How do the arts shape, as well as reflect, a culture?” represents a great essential question. This question encourages the student to go beyond a textbook answer and incorporate their own background and prior knowledge to answer a question that may or may not have one answer. An aspect of essential questions that I really liked from the reading is that they encourage transfer to other areas of learning. If a student is truly understanding the content he/she is presented with, and engaging with it in a thought-provoking, deep manner, he/she should be able to use this knowledge and apply it to another aspect of learning. This knowledge can be applied to the same subject matter, such as a math problem. With a math problem, the student can merely memorize the formula he/she needs to use for a specific problem, or they can understand why they are using that formula and be able to transfer those concepts to a different math problem. Transfer can also be applied to a broader scale & to different subject areas.
The second reading related back to the concept of essential questions as it focused on the difference between knowing and understanding. Understanding is what occurs when a child is meaningfully engaging with the information, and using an essential question is a great way to kick-start this. Knowing something is different in that although a child might know a specific piece of information, if he/she is not engaging with it and relating it to the big picture, he/she will easily forget this information. An example of knowing would be memorizing definitions for a test the night before. Relating this back to the first article, merely knowing a piece of information may not allow that student to transfer that knowledge to different areas of study and relate it to a bigger picture.
The article that I chose to read was about a new technique in reading aloud to elementary students that encourages deeper thought and understanding (http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/05/13/new-read-aloud-strategies-transform-story-time.html?qs=understanding+content). While the teacher reads the book aloud, rather than stopping and asking the students questions about their personal feelings, such as asking, for example, “have you ever felt lonely before?” if the main character in the story is feeling lonely, the teacher instead asks specific questions about the text as a way to guarantee that the students are understanding what is going on in the story. She may ask, “Why did this happen?” or “What did this mean?”. In doing this, the focus is on the content rather than the feelings. Students are also engaging directly in the text and getting meaning out of it then they might not have before. It also allows the students to ask the teacher questions on ideas they might be unfamiliar with or confused about. Although these specific students were only elementary students, it’s never too early to begin teaching kids to start using higher level thought processes.