Yesterday students were tasked with learning about the hierarchy of Pre Columbian Civilizations. I asked them to read through an article I printed out with a group. Then they were to read it through a second time, highlighting important information to share with classmates about their civilization. I asked them to write in the margins why the idea was important. Their ideas will be used in a collaborative slide show where groups will work together to share their info with the class. When I planned this lesson I thought about close reading strategies, collaborative work, and which tools I could use to enhance learning. I did not think about how powerful the reflection conversation would be at the end of our first lesson.
I happened to ask students to share with their classmates some of the information they discovered about their civilization. I had a student share about nobles, another mentioned slaves, a third discussed how woman and children were treated. I then asked a follow up question, more because I was curious about what these ten year olds would say. What do you think about this? Someone blurted out, “That is just do dumb!” So we talked about why the child felt this way. This led into students sharing opinions of life back then compared to life now. It was a raw conversation where students reflected, connected, and drew conclusions. They were honest with themselves and listened to their classmates. It reminded me of a conversation I might have overheard in a coffee shop at UVM where people were expressing their thinking about some hot topic in the news.
I think all children need to be asked what they think. They need practice in respectfully conversing and sharing their opinions on topics. They also need experiences that allows them to grow their confidence skills to share their honest thinking on a topic.