Monday, May 31, 2010

Octopus and Peacocks

For the last few years I´ve been fortunate enough to visit several European countries. I have found that each time I learn about our destination the same way. I look up some of the places on the internet ahead of time, read the guidebook (usually on the airplane), and then read about the specific destination again just before going there. After the visit, I often reread the guidebook and highlight where we´ve been. Then I write about it in my journal, e-mails,  blogs, or on Facebook.

It takes me that amount of reading and writing for me to assimilate the information and make it my own. My most recent trip was to Spain to see our daughter who has been studying in the northern city of Oviedo. To be honest, the tour book didn´t give this city justice. I expected diversity in the restaurants, but was surprised to also find ancient wells and churches in the middle of new, cosmopolitan streets. In the city park I heard one peacock calling loudly to another sounding a lot like a cat's loud "meow,"


and saw streets filled with pedestrians of all ages who liked to window shop in stores like this:



 I love being able to locate a city like Gijón  on the map, where I tasted the octopus soup (in the metal tureen) which my husband and daughter shared,


was initiated into the ritual of drinking sidra (alcoholic cider) with two of my daughters' friends,,


and saw replicas of Roman (left) and Celtic (right) homes.






I enjoy each of these discoveries.

All of these sensory experiences reinforced what I had read; my travel "classroom" would have been less rich without each one.

My experience is not unlike your students who use multiple learning modalities to process information. We all learn through visual, tactile, auditory, and kinesthetic stimuli.  But as  S.D. Powell, an author with PBS Parents writes, "the more senses or modalities we can activate the more learning will take place."

You probably can't take your students to Europe to reinforce a history or geography lesson. But you can integrate several different modalities into the learning environment of your classroom. Encourage your students to find information in a variety of sources, to listen to music, to cook and taste food from another culture or time period, to . Their "book" learning will be enhanced by their sensory experiences. Then, let them write an e-mail to a relative, post a blog about it, twitter it, or write about it on Facebook. They can write a poem, a free write in their journals,  use it as part of an expository paper, or as something a character in a story enjoys.

As for me, I know I´ll never forget the sounds of peacocks or the taste of octopus soup. And thank you for letting me share them with you.


Oviedo,  sidra, Gijon, Spain,  Octopus, Peacocks, Multiple learning modalities, S.D.Powell, PBS Parents

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