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Saturday, December 24, 2005

An Instant Message Conversation with a 5th Grader, and My Reflection/Rambling

The other day I received an instant message from one of my counsin's friends. (I have begun to receive a lot of instant messages from two of my little cousins' friends. They must be handing out my screen name. At least it leads to interesting conversations, such as this one.) My cousin is 11 years old, and in 5th grade. Her friend is too. I had just finished up a lot of work for my education classes and thought it would be interesting to "quiz" a real live elementary school student about her school and classess. I don't think this girl knew that she was talking to someone who is going to be a teacher.

Her: 2day was my last day of skool and now its winter
Her: i luv wen we don't have skool
Her: :-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-) [multiply those smileys by about 20, and you'll get the number she actually made. It would take up too many lines to include them all.]
Me: School's fun, what are you talking about!?
Her: i don't like gym or science or writing
Me: Why not?
Her: because i'm never on my friends teams in gym and in science we don't choose our parters and in writing we just revise and write
Me: It is fun to get to be with your friends. What do you write when you write?
Her: what Mrs. H--- says
Her: shes my writing teacher
Me: What does she tell you to write? Like, a story, or a letter, or something convincing someone about something?
Her: first we interviewed people and now we're writing about outdoor ed
Me: Interviewing people sounds like it would be fun. What did you interview them about?
Her: about them and we didn't choose our partners
Me: Well, if you had interviewed your friends, you would have already known all about them. :) So you wouldn't need to interview them. When you interview other people you don't know, you get to learn about them.
Her: but some people were with their friends
Me: Oh, so it didn't seem fair.
Her: and i knew everything about the person i interviewed
Me: Hmm... that's too bad.
Me: What do you learn about in science. I'm curious.
Her: first we measured different balls like metal and rubber then we did cubes and cylinders then we did volume and mass the matter and now we're doing water and we're gonna do chemistry
Me: Oh, I know you said you wish you got to choose your partners, but that sounds like fun even with somene who's not your friend.
Me: And chemistry is really cool.
Her: but i only like it when we do experiments but a lot we just write in our journals and read in our science books
Me: Is your science book like a textbook?
Me: And, what do you write in your journals?
Her: kinda but its small we write what we get for our experiments and what things like gas solid and liquid and matter are
Me: So you write down definitions of the new words you learn and stuff?
Her: yea
Me: How does your teacher make sure you learned something when you're done with a unit?
Her: we have tests
Me: What kind of tests? What does your teacher (is it a she or a he) ask you on the tests?
Her: he mr. n--- asks about the unit
Me: Does he ask you to give a definition, or does he give a definition and ask you to tell what the word is? Or do you write out something?
Her: all of them
Me: Okay, cool.
Me: Are you in [My cousin]'s class?
Her: yea
Her: [Your cousin]'s lucky shes always with me or 1 of our other best friends j---
Her: and c---
Me: Yeah, it is fun being in class with friends. :)

So, what did I learn from this conversation:

I learned that this student would always prefer to be partnered with one of her friends. This would theoretically be possible for her, because she has friends in all her classes, and friends in general. She seems to be fairly outgoing. The fact that she randomly IMs her friend's older cousin says something about her personality (that she is at least somewhat extroverted and confident in her ability to interact in some way with semi-strangers).

Of course, students can't always, and shouldn't always be partnered with their friends. They have to learn to work with people who they don't already know. And, especially in lower grades, they are still developing friendships and finding their niche in life. They need to be grouped with people who they wouldn't necessarily choose to be with in order to expand their knowledge of different people.

I also learned that she does like the experiment part of science, she just doesn't like the writing part. But the writing part, or at least recording in some way the discoveries/observations made, is just as important as the experiment itself. If the student doesn't somehow record his/her thoughts, they will be forgotten. So, the teacher must convey that importance to the students. The teacher must be explicit in her reasoning. She must make sure the students understand that they aren't just writing down their observations so that the teach has something to grade, but that they are writing down their observation so that they have something they can refer back to later.

(I'm not even going to comment on the internet speak: "i luv wen we don't have skool")


Blogger leesepea said...

Most of my eighth grade students don't have computers at home, so instead of instant messaging, they write notes to each other. Some of them keep notebooks that they pass back and forth to each other - sort of like communal journals. I had to snag one from a kid in class once but only because they passed it over like four rows of kids to get it to the right person - as if I wouldn't notice!

It took every fiber of my being to restrain from the urge to read it, but I tucked it in the bottom of a drawer and told the girls to come pick it up after school, at which point I explained that I thought it was a wonderful idea but it needed to be done OUTSIDE of class time. Sometimes I'll see them writing to each other and the most popular introduction is, "Hey, wut's ^?" (with an arrow drawn pointing upwards to indicate the word "up").

So even without IM capabilities, kids find ways to write to each other in "code." It's cute, but it does get irritating, particularly if you are a teacher. I have a 29 year old friend who still calls me "dood" when she emails or comments on my site, which is how we wrote "dude" to each other at the age of 14. I have to practically sit on my fingers to avoid typing in a correction, but, hey, that's just me.

P.S. Bonus points for not typing back in IM speak! Excellent way to model appropriate writing skills!

10:39 AM  
Blogger nick said...


5:51 AM  

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