Do you remember when you first learned how to hit a baseball? The first time you held a bat in your hand, you were probably six or seven. Unless you were a kinesthetic genius, you didn’t hold the bat the correct way the first time you tried to use it. Remember how frustrated you felt when someone tried to take the bat away from you to show you what you were doing wrong? What you wanted was time to learn how to do it yourself. Any number of people could have told you the procedure to use in order to hit a ball with a bat. However, the only way to learn to hit a ball was to try, again and again.
In order to hit a ball with a bat, a person has to know more than procedure. They have to understand the concept of how to hold the bat, how to swing the bat, the plane that the bat comes across, and how fast to swing the bat in order to make contact. In order to build that conceptual knowledge, you have to take what you’ve been told about procedure and practice it until the concepts behind hitting a ball take hold in your brain. Once you have conceptual knowledge, you can hit a baseball with a baseball bat repeatedly, for your whole life. Without conceptual knowledge, you have to re-learn the procedures of hitting every time you pick up a bat.
In his book, Concept Rich Mathematics Instruction, author Meir Ben Hur states that when we build conceptual knowledge we actually adjust our schema, creating physical changes in our brains! Here is a link you can follow to read more of what he says about this. http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/106008/chapters/Conceptual-Understanding.aspx
I’m still in the pre-amoebic phase of learning about social media. I have a cursory procedural knowledge of the buttons to push to make pictures or video appear, but I don’t know why I’m pushing those buttons. I don’t know how portions of the internet, like facebook and pinterest, relate to one another. And forget html. What’s that? Somebody poked me the other day and I had a serious moment. Am I supposed to poke back or what? In order to change my brain, I have to keep trying new applications related to social media. I have to think about how those applications relate to one another. I want that new brain, because I know that without sufficient conceptual knowledge, I won’t be able to grow this blog, or sustain it as social media changes.
It took time for me to learn how to hit a baseball, and learning how to blog will take time as well. Teachers have students forty-eight minutes a day, five days a week for nine months. We have a mountain of objectives that our States expect us to teach. However, my teacher buds, try to remember that the only way to learn how to hit a baseball is to hold the bat yourself, miss the ball multiple times, and continually try until the process becomes automatic. Ask yourself this question: Who is holding the bat in my classroom?