What We Call Misconceptions May Be Necessary Stepping-Stones
I had the following thoughts when reading this article:
1. A student who is expected to “fix” a misconception by replacing it with “official school” ideas they don’t fully understand the reasoning behind will tend to revert back to their original thinking when thinking about and explaining that concept to the outside world.
2. If students are given the guidance and space to reason out loud with each other, they position themselves in a better place to understand the problems at hand and the ideas that may offer solutions.
3. Teachers who are intent on supporting their students’ sense-making discussions should offer responses that move the discussion in a promising direction toward explaining the phenomena not just spoon-feeding the information.
Pre-assessing students is helpful in that it gives the teacher a guideline for how much his or her students already know about a given topic. This helps the teacher decide what and how much information should be covered in the lesson or unit. It might also identify possible misconceptions students have about that concept.
The other day one of my students (I teach five-year-old kids) claimed that they had an alligator and an elephant living in their home. Apparently, according to him, they like to eat onions! It is my belief that my students get these ideas from various sources – books, watching tv, playing computer games, talking to each other or older siblings. They are very impressionable children and can easily believe anything a trusted person tells them.
The way I need to address this in my classroom is to keep in mind the following: It is important to guide my students learning in a way that allows them time to explore, discuss, and make sense of concepts instead of immediately being told the answers.