I am coming to realize more and more that approximation is an important step. In writing, in reading, in thinking, in living. We seem to always be trying to be like something and as we try to be it, we approximate.

My colleague it worried about her class who is blogging using Kidblog for the first time. “They seem to just write only a sentence or just a joke or a few fun facts. They aren’t all writing a small moment story. Any suggestions?” she emailed to me. I replied that she first can celebrate that they are trying to do it. They are approximating.

I am reminded of Colleen Cruz teaching me at the Digital and Media Institute last April about the Eight Conditionals for Learning.

Conditions of Learning  Brian Cambourne 1988

  1. Immersion – exposure to it…
  2. Demonstration – let me show you…
  3. Engagement – brain researchers will say it is the most important, the wanting to learn! EX: when we are afraid, we can’t learn. Instead, we have to work to help all feel like they want to learn
  4. Expectations – the expectation that ALL will learn it and the learners have the expectations that they WILL learn.
  5. Responsibility – the learner takes the responsibility
  6. Approximation – while learning, it is messy…you try and fall and try again and approximate it as you go. “I fake it until I make it.” In the digital world, tools are always changing, making it hard at times to get enough practice time. I though,  often the digital tools make our approximations look pretty good!! (Ex: Kidblog and iMovie)
  7. Practice – through more practice and approximation and feedback, I get better at it!
  8. Feedback – study what is working and what is not. THIS is most important part as a teacher!!! This is why video games are so successful – they give feedback (next level or earn a badge) to the player!

Reminding myself of these Eight Conditions is helpful. As I reflect back to my blog post on Saturday, I now realize I need to do ALL eight of these. Instead, as a teacher, I’ve been focused on demonstrating (and seeing all those that aren’t getting it) and planning for high engagement (which works only some of the time) and being way too hard on myself about my responsibility as a teacher. I read this post shared on twitter that reminded me that my year with my students is “just a tile in their mosaic.” That image helps me put my responsibility into perspective. It helps me to breathe. Also, I’m realizing that it is fine for me to “fake it until I make it” as a 3rd grade teacher. It is just my second year as 3rd grade teacher in a brand new school. And my fourth year returning to the classroom after being a reading specialist for eight years. I’d say, based on that, I’m approximating pretty well!

Today I am celebrating that my approximation as a 3rd grade teacher is fine . I am celebrating that I get another day to practice my teaching (and I fully admit that it helps that I have a 2-hour delay due to the weather before my practice has to start). And my feedback will filled with simply watching my students as they immerse, demo, engage, expect, approximate, practice and provide me with feedback.

Because in life, approximations are perfectly acceptable.

DitiLit – Function

This week’s DigiLit Sunday topic is “function”.
Connect to Margaret Simon’s blog Reflections On the Teche to read more.

Julieanne started her post this Sunday by stating: “I’m wondering, how are my students functioning with technology and how is technology functioning for them.” As I read this, I thought about how, by using technology, my students’ approximations look really good.

Last week I learned about Brian Cambourne’s research on the Conditions for Learning:

The idea is that the approximation step allows for the learner to be free to approximate a skill, as making mistakes is essential when learning.

This week my students used kidblog, iMovie trailers, and TodaysMeet as three tech tools, all functioning as a way to show their thinking. Because of the tech form being used, it allowed their approximations to look really good! Sure, mistakes were there but because kidblog allows for a photo to be easily added to enhance the words and iMovie adds the dramatic music to match the story line and TodaysMeet limits you to just 140 characters, all 3 tools allowed for sharing of thoughts in a form that makes all users look and sound smart.

I think it is a great time to be a digital native! So many tools are available, allowing each user to function and share their thinking to communicate with others. It is also a great (but very challenging time) to be the teacher of these digital natives. As the teacher, I will push myself to think about the function of each digital tool and help each user make wise choices so they can best share their thinking.