Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Silence at the Night Safari

I started this lesson by drawing stars and a moon on black paper. As I drew a crescent moon, my resident genius disapproved it: "the moon is yellow not blue". And so I changed it to yellow. My little Italian boy got upset and told his friend, "now is banana! why?". I'm laughing inside all this time but I was also feeling elated that the children engaged. I was on to something good.

I had to transport their minds to the night safari. Illustrations of white eyes kept them intrigued since they now had to figure out which animal I was slowly revealing to them. But they're smart, and they figured out most of the animals even before I completed the illustration. Then I drew one eye and told them to identiy the animal. There was silence after that. A long and uncomfortable silence. Some of them zoned out and some were thinking. I told them that I wasn't going to give the answer.  Then! An aha moment for someone! "I know, Miss Itsy! It's a Minion!" Now there is someone who really thought about his answer! I praised him for his thinking process. I explained to them with a 3D toy animal how the view from the side reveals only one eye. Then they understood it fully. I added an ear and other parts until they were able to identify the animal.

Here comes the amazing part of the lesson. I drew eyes on the head at the top middle part of the paper, and the body of the same animal at the bottom right. I told them to think about why there's a great distance from the head to the tail. After a very silent long pause, someone said "the animal has a long nose". I was enjoying this. They are thinking!!! I pushed them to think about it more and told them that yes, there is something long but it isn't a nose. They eventually figured out that it's a giraffe. But this came after another long silent pause in the lesson.

Which brings me to the point of all this. It's tempting for us teachers to fill the silence by providing answers but we can't and shouldn't rob children of the learning process. It's a wonderful scene to witness and an empowering moment for children.