Blurry view of school playground and many children, no figures distinct

Suspending Thinking

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By Megan Verellen

To explore the act of listening, teacher candidates in Dr. Dawn Woods’ Winter 2021 sections of Teaching Mathematics at the Elementary and Middle Level were asked to “Listen for the Gold” based on a reading from the book Listen Like a Storyteller: A Guidebook on Attention and Finding the Truth in the Narrative Age (McCann, 2019). Teacher candidates found a few moments when working with their students to close their eyes to focus on hearing, enjoying, and to listen for the gold. Here is one of the narratives about what they heard as they listened and how it connected to their work as teachers.

Click on the category “Listening” for more stories on this topic.

I did this activity in my 4th grade placement classroom since half of the students returned in-person today.

As I sat at my desk, I heard the inauguration being played on the SmartBoard, students asking questions about the inauguration, some of them rustling through their snacks and chewing, students in the hallway from other classes, lockers closing, the principal making an announcement over the loudspeaker, my Apple watch vibrating on my wrist because I got a text message, a student closing his hand sanitizer bottle cap and putting it away in his desk, and my teacher typing on her keyboard. One student must have been really focused on the inauguration because she asked, “Did anybody else just hear a baby cry in the audience?” to which they laughed because they couldn’t believe a baby’s cry was picked up on a microphone for all of America to hear. However, it seemed like I was the only one that didn’t hear it! 

This activity connects to eliciting and interpreting because as McCann (2019) writes, “Thinking and considering and using logic is the biggest challenge when listening for the Gold.” In other words, when we elicit and interpret with students, we need to use our logic to ask appropriate questions, listen to their thinking, and interpret their responses and thought patterns/processes. Sometimes, just listening to a student’s explanation can tell you so much about their understanding of a concept (or in this case, the Gold).

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