I read the story to the whole group on the rug, after lunch & recess, so it was quite.....let's call it, 'exuberant' on the rug as I read...very interactive. The primates loved the colorful, bright, child-like illustrations, and delighted in reading the various signs, labels, words embedded in the illustrations. I wrote the question, "Why do we read?" on the white board and asked them to think about it as I read the story. After reading, I asked the question again and instructed them to draw & write their answers.
I noticed several primates wrote the question on their paper preceding their answer. This is interesting. And is not the first time I've noticed it. I suppose this is an instance where it is as important to notice what they do without being told vs. what you've directly asked them to do.
As a teacher influenced by MI vs. general intelligence theory, (and just a note--general intelligence--what traditional education including standardized testing is based on, IS in fact a theory with far less scientific evidence behind it), noticing this spontaneous occurrence reveals something about process and processing.
The primates who wrote the question, 1. heard me ask it, 2. read it on the board, 3. wrote it down, in their process of processing what I asked. Their answers were on topic, thoughtful, and creatively illustrated. One example: the primate wrote:
"Why do we read? Because it helps us use our imaginations."
**I substituted dictionary spelling for inventive...we are beginning writers!)
And drew a picture of a mermaid sitting on rocks above crashing ocean waves, reading a book.
Another wrote: "Why do we read? To learn and discover and to read signs."
This primate's drawing was a boy reading a book and sitting in front of a red stop sign with the word 'stop' written inside.
I hypothesize that added step of writing the question provides more time, more depth of understanding to the primate, thus resulting in a truly authentic answer to the question that shows what they really know. Now what I find most interesting is that I never asked them to write the question--they did it naturally. However, we do a lot of reflective writing where I ask a question for them to answer in words & pictures, and I always include the question I asked--usually printed on a label. Did their idea to write the question down sprout from this practice? Maybe they did it because I wrote the question on the board? I can't be sure...maybe something else entirely.
I think this is an important skill, though....and to put it in terms of MCAS, they are learning to really THINK about the question being ask before formulating their answer--a strategy many primates seem to lack when answering MCAS questions. hmmmmm, I'd like to think about this more.....
I do think this is important to recognize...and it makes me also think about how to individualize observational assessment--in a way that works with 22 primates in a class. A kind of "learning portrait"...what I notice about how they solve problems and what products they create....and their work as evidence of this......