I’ll never forget the first moment when I actually witnessed, first hand, a child constructing knowledge right in front of me. This was long before I had children of my own and had the privilege of watching the construction of knowledge unfold before my very eyes every single day.
I was an assistant kindergarten teacher in a small school and we were all sitting on the rug at circle time. The other teacher asked the children one of those broad questions you ask every day. Only this time she worded the question just differently enough that they children had to consider what they already knew and then make adjustments about this new information in order to create sense out of the question and their answers. She asked, “What day were you born?” Not one child raised his/her hand.
Now, I knew that they all knew their birthdays. We had talked about birthdays frequently and their own special day was even posted on the classroom “birthday board.” The teacher repeated the question. One boy -Joseph- repeated the question to himself, just under his breath. I started watching him. He was saying, “What day were you born? Born day, born day.” All of a sudden, his face lit up like a beacon and he yelled out, “Born day is birthday!” By asking a question just a little bit differently than you have before, you require the children to think in a new way. That new way is how they construct knowledge.