Sunday, January 17, 2010


What does it take for a child to succeed in school? That seems to be in the newspaper often. People shake their heads and everyone wonders. Well, it takes a lot of things.

This is the picture that comes to my mind. A teacher leads-she has the knowledge and skills-the student moves himself along by working on his lessons and using his head and the parent is pushing, prodding, and encouraging the child/student. It is definitely a formula in which three parties are contributing to the success of a student. That is the general idea.

Now what does it take for the child to learn? Any new learning must connect to knowledge that is already there in the child’s brain or experiences, sort of like adding a link to a chain. I asked the students one day…How many of you have seen a car going down the street and the tires are shaking, sort of moving from side to side because they are not straight? (hands go up-I have. Me, too.)

Then how many of you have seen commercials in which the announcer says, “If you need your tires aligned, bring in your cars and we can align your tires for you.”
(hands go up-I’ve heard that. I saw that commercial.) I write align on the blackboard.

Align your tires means to make them straight so that if I say let’s align your desks that means to put them in straight rows. Understand? Like-in-a-line.

Today I am going to ask you to align your decimals in these math problems. What am I asking you to do? (Put the decimals in a straight line.)

That is right. If we are to work with decimals, they must always be aligned or placed in a straight line. Then and only then can we work a problem successfully.
(We went from the known-tires that shake-to the unknown-the term align.)

Teaching children using ideas or concepts with which they are familiar is another method of engaging them so you can teach them.

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