The Listening Test

I found an interesting set of notes this morning.  It dates back over two years and is titled, “First Family iPad.”

I had used iPads at work, but on this particular day, I brought home an iPad that I was also going to share with my children, both under 7 at the time.  When I took it out of my bag, they swarmed me.  My son had worked with an iPad at school, and my daughter certainly knew what one was.  I turned it on, went into the kitchen to make some coffee, and said, “have at it.”

In the kitchen, as my admittedly overly complicated coffee ritual (see image below this post) unfolded, I listened carefully to their first 20 minutes with the family iPad.  As I listened, I jotted.  And this is what I heard:

“Let’s use that app [garage band] to make a song.”

“Can we mush together those two sounds?”

“What’s this do?” (5 times, at least)

“Look what I did.”

“Look what I made.”

“Let me help you.”

“Let me show you.”

“I like what you made.”

“How’d you do that?”

“Just tap around and figure it out.”

“Drag it.”

“Copy that.”

“Make a note.”

“You have to speak very clearly into it.”

Looking at this list for the first time in a while makes me want to listen more in my home.  My kids get along as well as most siblings; they have moments of grace and its opposite.  But, in this case, they were doing all the things I want them to do when they learn: asking questions, trying things to see if they work, learning from successes and failures, collaborating, sharing their work, combining things to make new things, practicing, adjusting…

Looking at this list for the first time in a while makes me want to listen more in my classroom and my school.  What happens — what really happens — when students interact with all the technology, all the tools, all the special speakers, all the texts and lab materials and furniture provided by my school?  We invest money and time in all kinds of resources to spur student learning, but what do these resources encourage students say to each other?  What questions do students ask when they engage with these resources?  If we truly pay attention to what our curriculum and our school resources cause students to do and say, are we happy, proud, and even inspired?

Do our classrooms and schools pass the listening test?


My “admittedly overly complicated coffee ritual”:

Found here:

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