Moving Aside

Today we learned about Newton’s Laws. It wasn’t about definitions or vocabulary. It wasn’t about sections or chapters. It wasn’t even about a quiz.  It was about playing with materials, exploring what we thought might work, discussing it with each other, and making it happen.  Then it was about research.  It ended with students drawing a diagram of the egg drop experiment and labeling the diagram with Newton’s laws.   Their understanding of Newton’s laws went far deeper than a paragraph in a textbook.  When I asked them to apply the Laws to rocketry, they got it.  They understood. Not because I had told them anything, but because I had gotten out of their way.

Sometimes they need you to step in and ask that powerful question that’s going to pry open a part of their mind that needs support.  Other times, they just need you to know when to step aside and let them go.  Teaching is not about what we tell them.  It’s about how we support them as learners. Even when that means moving aside.

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5 Responses to Moving Aside

  1. Lori says:

    I don’t teach Newton’s Laws until 3rd quarter, but you have inspired me to “steal” your approach! Can’t wait to give it a shot. Thanks for sharing!

  2. lanafleiszig says:

    Isn’t it amazing how learning through inquiry engages every student not just a few! Your students are more likely to remember Newton’s Laws for many years to come as they have learnt them with understanding. I agree that it is the teacher’s role to step out of the way but to actively listen to students’ conversations, observe the strategies being used and ask thise powerful questions that push thinking and perhaps encourage students’ to make connections. Thanks for sharing.

  3. kdceci says:

    So interesting! We are doing a unit with our 5th graders right now about scientific discoveries, and I was considering digging into Newton’s laws. This sounds great. Thanks for sharing! What age are your students? Is your class on Twitter?

  4. kdceci says:

    Great! We’ll look you up. We are @yis5b!

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