The Student “Eureka!”

“One of the very important characteristics of a student is to question. Let the students ask questions.”
– Attributed to A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

A positive article to round out the week, and I would like you to consider what your ‘win’ for the week was with your students and leave it in the comments. I was on a Year One class today, one that I have not had this year for no other reason than I have just not been assigned to that class. The teacher for whom I was covering for the day had left an outline of what she wanted to be completed over the course of the day. Nothing too onerous, some mathematics, some spelling, some HSIE and some grammar.

The class has been learning about nouns and verbs and this particular worksheet that had been left for them to do took them onto adjectives. It was a grid of words and the students were required to colour the nouns in blue; the verbs in red and the adjectives in yellow. We had the conversation about what an adjective was, and I reaffirmed that they understood what nouns and verbs were and sent them off to their tables.

About ten minutes later, one of the students came to me with a confused look on her face.

Mr Mitchell, what do I do with ‘open’? I can open the door, which means it’s a doing word, a verb, but I can also describe the door as being open, which makes it an adjective.”

It was a fantastic moment because it was a genuine demonstration that she understood the concepts and had integrated what a verb, an adjective and a noun were into her schema of the English language and could apply it in different contexts. I did read the worksheet particularly closely; I scanned the instructions to clarify what it was about before the session, but I did not look at each of the words in the grid. It was a fantastic moment and one that has gone in my Book of Wins (a hardcover notebook mum gave me as a graduation gift after I completed my Teaching degree as a way of recording the small things that happen that are ‘wins’ with the students and which will remind me why I teach on the inevitable bad days.

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