Context Clues and Observation Skills

Keys to Success
As a science teacher, I think those two things are the two most critical pieces of a student that I can help develop. Context Clues and Observation Skills. My students do not always come to me with these skills, nor can I always develop them as much as I would like in my 9 months with my sweet darlings.

Today I received an email inviting me to speak at STEMCON. I plan to try to go. It's an incredible opportunity to share with some of the really great minds in my field. But, what I find we all keep coming back to, is that as teachers we have to find ways to bring out the context clues for our students or demonstrate the use of observation skills. This means that no matter the skill level, reading level, IQ level, functionality, etc, our students can all use more developement in the area of context clues and observation skills.

I find that my students not only hear teachers often say, "are you sure you read ________" referring to novels, directions or most anything, but that often the students eyes have gone over the symbols on the page without really absorbing the full content within, much less gaining any clue to the context.

Most of our students today have grown up around technology in a way that most veteran, ie 4 years or more, teachers did not. Most veteran teachers watched the technology develop, some have even embraced it into their classrooms as much as their schools will allow. What this means for our students is that they are used to memes, instagram and vimeo videos, youtube, google, facebook and other medias, being short snipets of information and sound bites that are always at their disposal.

How as teachers and parents can we navigate the minefield and get them to actually see the world around them!?! How will they discover the science behind Leonardo DaVinci or Claude Monet?! When will they notice the patterns of flowers directly match the wind patterns months prior? Or how will they find out that Vincent Van Googh was the first to finally make us able to see turbulence and the prior to this, no scientist or artist could really get it right?

What as teachers can we do?

1. Create class lessons that utilize 10-20 minutes of time and then require the student to do a different task using a different part of their brain.
2. Question what we show them.
3. Give them word searches and word puzzles and brain teasers to start our high school classes.
4. Make our content rich classroom, Actually RICH WITH CONTENT! Don't throw it all on the wall, give it meaning.
5. Teach your students to see context clues and how to use observation skills. Maybe give them a search and see sheet for your classroom or show a short clip and have them write everything they saw.

What ideas do you have? Post them in the comments below.

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