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Welcome to my blog! I use my blog as a way to reflect, share, organize, and re-conceptualize my views as an educator. Enjoy and feel free to comment, post, disagree, and share your opinion. The more perspectives, the better!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Art of the NON example

Out of everything that I have learned from my mentor teacher this year (which trust me is way more than I have learned in 4 years of coursework and I suspect more than most people learn in their first year teaching), one of my favorite strategies is the non-example.

By our definition non-examples are when we demonstrate, say, act, or talk about something to the children that is completely wrong. We do this to help them understand why it is important to understand or use a strategy or behavior. 

Non-examples can be as simple as saying the opposite of a direction, writing the wrong thing on the board (2+2=5), or acting out or narrating inappropriate behavior. I am amazed at their effectiveness. It is often ends up moving the student to that "click" moment in a new concept and will many times prevent a mistake from occurring. While it is important to learn from your mistakes, often, especially with forming letters and numbers,  it is one more time the child is practicing something the wrong way. The more a behavior or skill is practiced incorrectly, the harder it will be to change habits. Imagine being told that bed time was at 6:00pm every night for the past two years and then one day being told that we actually stay up until 10:30pm. It would be hard to stay up for those extra hours wouldn't it? I know it would for me, and it is just as hard for a child to reverse mistakes.

Between my mentor teacher and myself we probably say or do at least 20 non examples a day. Some are complex, but most are very simple. Some are fun ways to improve behavior or lighten the mood (my students love to be 'tricked' when we cheer spelling words for example) and others are attached to meaningful and further explained lessons and strategies.

Here are some examples:
--Telling the children to line up "as loudly and slowly as possible"
--When working on a Venn diagram or chart, beginning to write in the wrong spot 
--Acting out what it looks like when a child sits on their knees (instead of criss-cross applesauce) with their hand waving and making the 'uuuu' 'uuu' sound.
--Reading a book without stopping at punctuation and skipping a few words.
--Reading a book without any adjectives (how boring is that)
--Reading a book way too fast or way too slow
--writing a sample book starting with "I like" for every sentence
--adding when you are supposed to be subtracting

and here are some non-examples...just kidding!

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