Sunday, September 26, 2010

Great Expectations

This past week I had my Kindergarten classes right after they had returned from a field trip to the aquarium. I should have known better! It had already been a long day for these little girls, and now they were coming to me for the last bit of their day. I was excited to hear about their trip, so as a "fun" activity, I asked the first group to draw, using KidPix, something that they saw that day at the aquarium.

At first they were very excited, but soon I started to hear the whines and frustration, "this is too hard" and "I can't do it". A couple of them were trying, but most were either staring at a blank screen or had given in to the urge to scribble and explore outside the assignment. I tried to encourage them by saying, "just try" and "it doesn't matter if it doesn't look like a real ____" (fill in the blank with your favorite water creature). After several minutes of encouraging them, it was nearly time to go.

One student had actually managed to write her name and scratch out a small image, although I wasn't sure what I was looking at. I congratulated her, and asked her if she wanted to print it. She did, so we did. As I handed the paper to her, I continued through the room asking girls to close out of KidPix and logout. I turned just in time to see the young student staring at her paper while bursting into tears. When I asked her what was the matter, she replied, "this doesn't look like an octopus!"

Well, lessons learned. First, don't ask 5 year olds to try anything new at the end of an extra long day. Second, 5 year olds, unless they are ahead of the curve or just immune to the results, are not able to draw using a mouse. After all, they are just getting used to paper and pencil. Lastly, just because a teacher says "good job", doesn't mean a student will value the effort.

The next Kindergarten group that day worked on drawing lines and circles. They were confident and successful!


  1. "It doesn't look like an octopus." You're collecting your own stories now! What a lovely story and a great lesson for other Ed Tech teachers.

  2. I can't wait to hear more stories from Digital Discoveries!

  3. Chris, thanks for letting me know about your blog. I love hearing about kindergartners. I haven't taught them in such a long time, but I remember the days of learning along with them. Thanks, too, for sharing your reflections here.

  4. I loved your story Chris! You could probably write a book with all the things that kindergartners say !

  5. This makes me think about the book "ish" by Peter Reynolds. He was one of the featured writers at the November Learning conference this summer. It may not have looked like an octopus, but maybe it was "octopus-ish"! Check it out. It's a wonderful book, if you don't know it already, and it sometimes keeps me centered when I think nothing comes out like I planned.

  6. Thanks Susan for the recommendation. I've heard of "ish", but I wasn't really sure what it was about. Looking forward to checking it out.