All year, I’ve been working with my students on the fact that they are never “done” learning. There is always something else that they can do. Many students are now creating their own extensions to activities and revisiting previous work to see where they can go next.
Using guiding questions to frame their research, students had to explore a chosen topic of interest. Then they had to create a media text sharing the learning with the class. During the first nutrition break today, Jay* burst through the classroom doorway announcing, “I’m done!” Jay already knew a lot about the topic that he picked, and he was initially very reluctant to research to find out more. He asked the minimum number of “guiding questions” required for the research component, and initially he answered the questions based on his own experiences, without consulting any sources. When he came to tell me that he was “done with the research,” he needed lots of encouragement to go back and look for more information. We even brainstormed some creative sources together (e.g., interviewing a person that taught him the sport and looking at videos to learn more). While reluctant, Jay did manage to go back and complete the research requirements.
He was very eager to work on his media piece, and from early on, he knew what he wanted to do: he wanted to make a dance video. When he showed me the video today, we spoke about what he still needed to add to it, and he replied with, “Okay, I’ll work on it now, and be all done before the end of lunch.” I replied that he could definitely stay in to work, but if he did, he needed to think about what he was going to do during the work period after lunch. Did he want to add more information to his video? What other information could he find out about his topic? Was there another way that he could elaborate on what he learned, but using a different format? Did he want to research another topic for a new project, but this time, looking at ways to improve based on the feedback I gave him on his first project?
This is when Jay got upset. “Why can’t I just be done?” he said to me.
I explained that learning should lead to new learning. I gave him a chance to consider the options, and once we conferenced after the break, he did manage to develop his own extension. He still questions though why the learning can’t just end. His continuous questions and our interactions today have really made me think.
How do you get students to see that learning is never done? How do you inspire students to want to always learn more?
*-Please note that for the purpose of privacy, this student’s real name is not used in this post.
Aviva Dunsiger taught Junior Kindergarten to Grade 2 for 11 years before moving to Grade 6 this year. She’s passionate about using technology in the classroom to support student learning, and she’s presented on this topic numerous times both online and offline.
She enjoys maintaining her blog, Living Avivaloca: My Many Musings on Life and Learning. Aviva’s reflective writing about her professional practice inspires communication between educators, administrators and parents.