The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Aha! Moments

As a teacher, I often have personal “Aha!” moments when I suddenly realise the perfect way to get a point across to all of my students. I also have “Aha!” moments when I suddenly get an insight as to why a particular student is behaving in a certain way. And I get “Aha!” moments when I read something that I am learning about and it just suddenly makes sense.

I also try to get my students to recognise their own “Aha!” moments. I encourage them to think about what they are learning and how it connects to what they already know. Sometimes they share these moments with me but most of the time they do not. I don’t think it is because they don’t think to share them; I think it is just that they forget the moment happened, even if they don’t forget the learning that took place.

Today I got to witness first-hand a student’s personal “Aha!” moment. We are doing a social studies unit on early European explorers and, as a culminating activity, each student is writing a page for a class alphabet book. It took some playing with names to get them all to work and I had to cheat with the letter X (we are just doing X is for eXplorers), but we have 25 explorers and 24 students. (I am going to write the page for Y and my student teacher is going to write the page for X.) To help them with this project, I had the class generate a list of questions they might want to answer and then put them together in a very, very, very simple graphic organizer. We will be using the computer lab three times this week and three times next week to work on this project.

One of my students is learning about John Cabot and was trying to figure out why his birthday only listed a year. He was visiting different websites when all of a sudden he called out, “Aha! That’s why!!!!” I went over to see what he was talking about and he showed me a paragraph that told him that nobody knows John Cabot’s exact birthday because his birth certificate was lost at sea.

It was just a brief moment in the middle of a very, very, very busy day, but it was wonderful to witness. I think I am going to do a quick lesson on “Aha!” moments tomorrow and ask the students to start recording them. Maybe I’ll even use them to update my bulletin board. (It still has our “Choose Kind” assignment on there but it is time for a change.) I think they will enjoy being able to share what they are learning with everyone who walks by the room, and it will be a great way to show that they are learning things that they personally find worthwhile.

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