Monday, July 27, 2015

An Elephant Never Forgets, but Kids, Well, Not So Much

We know that our kids tend to forget an awful lot over the summer. That seems to be short term loss. But I'm more concerned about long term.

I taught Earth, Space, and Environmental Science to gifted 6th grade students in a middle school. I spent a great deal of time trying to make real world connections to the subject area, tried to make it exciting, and tried to make it relevant to these 12 year olds. It seemed to be working. Then, a year later, I posted the following on Facebook "This is a quiz for last year's science class - What littoral zones can you see in this pond?" and posted a fabulous photo of a nearby pond that offered them great examples of one major concept they learned last year. Or so I thought.

They responded to my post:

"Ummm, I don't remember"
"Nope, no clue"
"It's the uhhh uhhh. it's the surface zone!? or the bilateral ANNA!!!! :'(zone? I'M SORRY MRS. CARUANA!!!!!"

Sorry they should be! How could they forget? We spent SO much time on it. They traveled in their neighborhoods and took pictures of ponds nearby and identified the zones. They drew maps, colorful and with legends of each of the zones. We went to our pond on the school grounds and evaluated its health based on the littoral zones present.

And it seems, they've learned NOTHING. Or they forgot. Which is worse?

Research tells us that what we need to create positive learning environments and teach in an engaging, relevant, yet rigorous way to promote achievement and life-long learning. What happens when you've done all that and still, they forget?

Kids forget an awful lot of things. Littoral zones aside, we all know they forget their homework. They leave things at home, on the kitchen table, in their lockers or at the parent's house that they stayed with on the weekend. Forgetfulness is the middle schooler's defining trait.

I'm hoping they grow out of it! And I'll bet so are you.