Caught out thinking

Posted: May 26, 2013 in Kids say the darndest things
Tags: , , , , , , ,

So, I’m working with a small group of students on a literacy exercise on recording one’s inner voice. We’re watching a short video about light bulbs, and the students are asked to write down what they are thinking or feeling about the video as their thoughts arise.  I love this kind of activity, because there is no right or wrong answer; the kids have license to write down pretty much whatever comes to mind.

By Ulfbastel (Own work (own photo)) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s a little outside these kids’ comfort zones, though. Some struggle with the concept of “inner voice”; when I start the video, several heads bend to their pages to start recording the facts. I pause the video and stay their hands.

“No,” I say, “we’re not looking for the facts. We’re looking for your thoughts.”

The kids look confused. I push on.

“What are you thinking? What are your questions? Does this make sense? Is there anything you don’t understand about the video, or anything you’d like to know more about the topic?” I resume the video once I see the metaphorical light bulbs slowly begin to glow above their heads.

“The light bulb was invented by Thomas Edison in blah blah blah…” the narrator says. One student who has yet to write anything mimes a yawn. I pause the video again.

“There!” I say. “That, right there. That’s your inner voice. You’re thinking that this is boring. Write that down.”

“What?” He looks at me with a mixture of surprise and suspicion.

“Yes,” I say. “You’re allowed to think that it’s boring. Write it down.”

Another student steadfastly maintains that he isn’t thinking anything at all. Nope, uh uh, not a single thought in his head. Which is, of course, not true at all; his problem is not a lack of thoughts, but lack of much in the way of a filter between brain and mouth. We’re watching the video when he points at the screen and blurts out, “Why is that bit glowing red?”

I hit the pause button. “That’s an inner thought,” I say triumphantly. “Write it down.”

“Gah!” He looks down with some reluctance to his exercise book and does as instructed.

We resume the video. Some seconds later, he interrupts again. “So, if you were to touch that bit there,” he says, “would it be hot?” Not only is he thinking, but he’s been listening as well.

“Inner thought…” I say.

“GAAAH!” His hands go up in exasperation; twice in a row, he’s been caught out thinking.

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