This is a place that I have enjoyed going since I was little. The water is usually a murky green and filled with algae and all sorts of other living things. (I've been told that the algae is great for your hair and skin.) When I am there, we usually embark upon some sort of project to improve the house or maintain it. You see, our family friend is blind, so he has trouble doing some of the work on his own. (He has great stories of his visits to hardware stores asking for help picking chainsaws and other large tools.)
On this trip, we would spend some time working on a project that I had never done before: the community pump house. In order to supply the neighborhood with clean water, they draw water from a pipe from a pipe running into the lake. The water was then run through a state-approved filtration system before being distributed to the homes. We would be installing and wiring some components to help automate the process. Although I had very little wiring experience, I did have some and we were expecting it to take two or three hours to finish the project. Opening the wiring box and removing the covers revealed this adventure.
|There is another wiring terminal on the right not in the picture.|
This experience made me think back to my own classroom. Some of my students enter knowing exactly what to do and can do well from the first instruction. Others, however, lack the necessary foundation and need extra support before they can be set free. These students will be frustrated and challenged and may be ready to give up before achieving their goal. Sometimes we plan great activities that should work out a certain way but do not end up going as we have planned. Are we going to get frustrated and discourage the students or will we take a few steps back and provide them with a stronger foundation to help them learn more effectively? I've learned that, no matter how great the activity, if they are not ready for it, they are not likely to benefit from it. As teachers, we need to know our students' abilities and help them thrive from there. Just because we are ready does not mean that our students are. This does become challenging with such diverse groups of students, but I believe it is possible to find a way for collaborative exploration that fosters learning and challenge for each of the students.
Do you have ideas for differentiation or stories of times that you have learned from? Share them below!
Oh, and for those who are curious, the reason that we were having such great difficulties was because of a blown fuse hidden behind a section of one of the terminals. That may or may not have been my fault...