Monday, October 15, 2007

Learning Styles, the Pine School and Stitches East

This past week our team hosted a group of students from the Pine School, a private school in Florida. These students spent two days visiting several reading rooms, getting tours of the Library and meeting curators. Since I rarely work with people under the age of 18 it was an interesting experience trying to determine what materials to use with them and what parts of the website to show. It also ended up being interesting watching them use the website and some of the activities we use with teachers. Watching them get comfortable using the website was interesting. None of them took notes though some of them did follow along as I did searches on the computer. Several of them dove right in finding topics of interest and looking at the materials they found. Others needed more guidance and suggestions of ways to refine searches or more details on where to search for information. As I reflected on their computer use I wondered if the skills used to learn how to navigate a website are different than the ones used in reading a book or learning facts from a chapter.

It was also interesting watching them work with our Primary Source Investigation exercise. The students were from grades 8-12 and they had different levels of prior knowledge. Watching them trying to find the links between the materials in the exercise was fun. The 11th graders did direct some of the discussion based on their prior knowledge but watching the younger students interact with them was interesting. In one case the 11th grader was certain that the link between the items was woman's suffrage but the 8th grader put the items together and slowly started showing the older student why the focus of the materials was labor rights. I wonder how much the student know about the subject of labor and how that impacted his analysis and how much of his analysis was based on what was in front of him. It would also be interesting to see how the two of them tackle a homework assignment or a chapter in the book.

Instead of focusing on how I read chapters and pick up information (which hasn't changed much since the first class) I decided to focus on how I dealt with teachers and learning options at a knitting conference I attended over this past weekend.

Stitches East is a big knitting conference that took place this past week in Baltimore. They offer a number of classes covering everything from basic knitting to advanced lace work. As I was thinking about the blog on the way home I thought about how I reacted to the different teachers I worked with this weekend. I had a horrible time with one teacher who basically gave us a graphic documenting the pattern we were to work on and who quickly demoed a technique we were to use for fair isle knitting. I couldn't pick up the skill and instead of talking me threw it he took the knitting out of my hands and showed me the skill and then left me to master it. Another teacher supplied written out instructions and then also did demonstrations and then stood behind us to watch us to see any problems and correct them while the knitting was in our hands. A third instructor supplied both charts and written directions for her projects and was very excited when a student helped her to find another way to explain something that I was having trouble with.

I've never knitted well when supplied with just a graphic with the pattern listed. I need the words. I also have discovered that I need to have someone watch me do something and show me where the problem is instead of just doing a demonstration. Having a teacher that is friendly and patient is also a good thing for me. I also like teachers who can look at things in different directions and look for other ways to explain problem topics instead of just saying the same thing over and over again. I am also one that can't have music on when I am learning something new and if there must be music it has to be instrumental. The first teacher insisted on playing old 60's tunes with lots of vocals and I found myself getting more and more frustrated with him and the class.

Thanks to teachers two and three I knitted my first mobius scarf and my first cable pattern ever. I left teacher one's class part way through severely frustrated and wondering if I will ever learn what he was supposed to teach.

No comments: