Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The more things change, the more they stay the same

I'm not sure what this says about my age, but I am hearing about learning theories that were popular when I first started teaching beginning to come around again! I must say, I'm happy to see some of these ideas come around again.

For example, a current topic of discussion in my building is The Daily Five. These are five activities for students to participate in while the classroom teacher is working with small groups: reading to self, reading with someone, writing, word work, and listening to reading. I found the book, written by sisters Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, to be quite interesting and very practical. But, it sure reminded me of the way I used to organize my reading group time back when I first started, using Regie Routman's book, Invitations.

I had a similar experience during class Monday night when my professor brought up Learning Dispositions as defined by Tishman, Jay, and Perkins. These dispositions, or "motivations, attitudes, values and habits of mind" enable people to be effective learners. The seven learning dispositions are:
1. The disposition to be broad and adventurous
2. The disposition toward wondering, problem finding, and investigating
3. The disposition to build explanations and understandings
4. The disposition to make plans and be strategic
5. The disposition to be intellectually careful
6. The disposition to seek and evaluate reasons
7. The disposition to be metacognitive
(from Thinking Dispositions:A review of current theories, practices, and issues by Shari Tishman and Albert Andrade, no date given, accessed on July 7, 2009, http://learnweb.harvard.edu/alps/thinking/docs/Dispositions.htm )

When I heard about these in class, I thought back to my beginning years of teaching when my entire school, grades K-5, worked on developing intelligent behaviors. These behaviors were adapted from Art Costa's Teaching for Intelligent Behaviors:
overcoming impulsivitity,
listening to others,
flexiblility in thinking,
checking for accuracy and precision,
questioning and problem-posing,
drawing on past knowledge to apply to present situations,
precision of language and thought,
using all senses,
living with a sense of wonderment, inquisitiveness, and curiosity,
cooperation, and
sense of humor.

Upon reflection, I realize that these critical thinking ideas haven't gone away and come back. It's me that has lost sight of these all important behaviors, ideas, mindsets, attitudes, and dispositions. I think in my years of teaching and focusing on content areas, standardized testing, and more, I've lost sight of these key concepts. Whether they're called dispositions, behaviors, or habits of mind, they are even more important in this day and age.

The students I am reaching in my library are facing an onsalaught of information on a daily basis. They will possibly be preparing for jobs that haven't even been thought of yet! There is simply no way to get through all the available information or learn every specific skill that will be necessary in the job market. By focusing on thinking processes, teachers and librarians can help students become independent learners able to sift through the piles of information, and find what they need.


  1. I LOVE the name of your blog. This too is something I kind of aspire too. And, um, I don't seem to get there very often!

  2. Woooo Hooo! Thanks for being my very first commenter, Prof!