kitchen table math, the sequel: Hainish suggests a 'negg' (and how to write a 4 that doesn't look like a 9)

## Sunday, May 11, 2014

### Hainish suggests a 'negg' (and how to write a 4 that doesn't look like a 9)

After I mentioned how impossible I'm finding the project of creating a thesis statement 'algorithm,' Hainish suggested using my mistake as an example of how not to create a thesis statement.

That is essentially the solution Ed came up with today.

Which brings me to something I never got around to mentioning after my time at Morningside Academy's Summer School Institute.

Every day of the two weeks I spent at Morningside brought new revelations, but the two that completely upended my perception of reality were Morningside's focus on anaphora as the critical component of reading comprehension and Kent's explanation of what to do when a student writes 4s that look like 9s and 9s that look like 4s.

So, pop quiz: if you had a student writing 4s that look like 9s and 9s that look like 4s, what would you do?

What I would do -- what I would have done before attending the Institute -- would be to have my student practice writing 4s and 9s.

But no!

That's that wrong answer.

The right answer is to have your student practice seeing 9s and 4s.

More specifically, have the kids practice telling 4s and 9s apart. Give them a worksheet filled with 4s and 9s, and have them "discriminate" 4s and 9s until they can do so fluently.

After that, the kids can write 4s and 9s.

I was gobsmacked.

So Kent explained.

All performance, he said, requires internal inspection. You don't just perform a skill, you watch yourself performing a skill. You inspect your performance as you perform.

And the inspector has to be trained.

The reason students write 4s that look like 9s and 9s that look like 4s isn't that they can't physically write 4s and 9s  They can. They can write other numbers; they can write letters. A child who can write other numbers and letters can write 4s and 9s.

The reason students write 4s that look like 9s and 9s that look like 4s is that they aren't seeing the difference. They aren't discriminating.

Kent said you could make a case all learning is discrimination.

More on this later, but for now: at Morningside, people use Tiemann and Markle's work on curriculum design. To teach a concept, they teach "EGGS" and "NEGGS."

EGGS are examples (thesis statements, in this case), NEGGS are non-examples (non-thesis statements).

More importantly, they give students close-in non-examples.

Make It Stick says pretty much the same thing.

More in a bit.

#### 1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"It is difficult to determine which country was responsible..."

When I read this, I also assumed that the thesis would be "which country was responsible?" and not "why is it difficult..."

I assumed that the opening phrase was just a stylistic frill, a clearing of the throat.

Then I followed the link here to Douglas Johnson's summary of Tiemann and Markle, where I found the following sentence right there at the beginning of the 1st paragraph:

"It is often difficult to get people to agree upon what a concept is." So, is the question: why is it hard for people to agree...? Or is the thesis the underlined question above the paragraph, "What is a Concept?"

More throat clearing?

Phil