Bunching vs Wrapping

I’m thinking a lot about teaching lately. Maybe because it’s because I’ve been out of the classroom for over three months, or because I’m planning on taking a class at MSU this fall on technology in education (more on that in another post). Anyways, I got thinking about where I began as a teacher, where I was back in February when I stopped, and where I want to be some day.

I began as a buncher. I would group ideas together in the curriculum, we’d look at those ideas for a short time, and then we’d move on…usually leaving the old ideas behind. I was a first year teacher, and while trying to keep my head above water, it wasn’t the best way to help kids internalize chemistry. Hell, it isn’t a good way to even teach chemistry. I learned from my mistakes.

Around the time I flipped the learning process, I learned about “spiraling,” which is just one of a number of terms for looping content back around. Immediately, I recognized the value in bringing old content back to the front of the discussion as kids tried to learn new concepts. Forming ideas based on prior knowledge just made more sense. We do it all the time. But, for me at least, it wasn’t a natural part of my teaching. So, I made it natural. Now that I’m a wrapper, I can’t ever go back to true bunching.

Original video from the Internet Archive, CC by Public DomainMoving forward, it’s still a struggle for me to think about how content is woven into a complete image, rather than blips on the radar. As I look forward to the fall semester, I’m thinking about ways technology can help us mitigate the effort it takes to spiral content. Is it good enough to remind kids via links on digital content to go back and look at old material? Or can we (should we?) do more to spiral for them?

I’d love some thoughts in the comments.



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