Essential Question: To what extent should we allow students to figure things out for themselves?
“You can’t think about thinking without thinking about thinking about something…” (Martinez, et.al, loc., 1066) “That is why tinkering is very helpful to learn about thinking, it gives deep clues to a patient observer about thinking. After reading this chapter, and the article called “Constructive Struggling,” it got me thinking about how much I gave my students opportunities to “struggle” and figure things out on their own. I had two boys in first grade math, and when they came across a word problem, they’d get frustrated by all of the reading, and then say they need help. “When we introduce complexity in the problems we ask students to solve and challenge them beyond what they think they can do, we give them the opportunity to struggle a bit, an opportunity that many students never experience in mathematics,”(Seeley, 2009).
I would tell them to read the word problem carefully, circle the important information, and underline what it’s asking you to do. They would determine what kind of math problem it is, and choose a strategy to solve it. After those struggling situations, sometimes we got that “aha” moment (their face expression were priceless). I agree with Seeley, that constructive struggling may go hand in hand with motivating them. Of course I did this after knowing their strengths, and what they are capable of doing. I never pushed my students too far, to where they totally gave up.
“When you allow children to make personally meaningful projects, they develop the habits of mind required to solve their own problems.” TMI (Think, Make, Improve) is a great acronym, and strategy for giving students opportunities to struggle and do things themselves (Martinez, et.al, loc., 1243). Reflection is also important. After every design or project, giving students that time to analyze, to make better, or revise, it makes learning more natural and beneficial for the students (Martinez, et.al, loc., 1304).
Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. (n.d.). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
Seeley, C. (n.d.). Constructive Struggling [Faster Isn’t Smarter]. Math Solutions. Retrieved 2009, from http://www.mathsolutions.com/documents/9781935099031_message17.pdf