This activity was very helpful to us because we thought about how to repurpose the spatula in order to cut the sandwich. We really did not need to repurpose much but we tried to incorporate the concepts. The important part about this lesson is that we had what we needed, to do what we needed and that was fine. As we run into roadblocks, it is important to incorporate that “outside of the box” thinking. It is the “work around” in order to get to the goal. This is not to say that you get bogged down in that work around. It is important to be able move forward but not get consumed with a technique that is taking too much time to implement. This was a fun and relaxed learning activity and as such it speaks to the research that is so paramount for all learners:
“Just as children are often self-directed learners in privileged domains, such as those of language and physical causality, young children exhibit a strong desire to apply themselves in intentional learning situations. They also learn in situations where there is no external pressure to improve and no feedback or reward other than pure satisfaction—sometimes called achievement or competence motivation (White, 1959; Yarrow and Messer, 1983; Dichter-Blancher et al., 1997). Children are both problem solvers and problem generators; they not only attempt to solve problems presented to them, but they also seek and create novel challenges. An adult struggling to solve a crossword puzzle has much in common with a young child trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle. Why do they bother? It seems that humans have a need to solve problems; . . . One of the challenges of schools is to build on children’s motivation to explore, succeed, understand (Piaget, 1978) and harness it in the service of learning.” (Bransford, 2000)
So even though Tammy and I did not have many obstacles to overcome, we did seek to incorporate what we had been learning about repurposing into our experience. That is, to say, we looked for how the content related and actually found ways to connect what we were learning. We did not have to flip the spatula around in order to cut the sandwich but we did because we knew that we had to repurpose something. The brain is a pattern seeking device and one that will search to solve a problem.
One word about transfer. I think that this Cooking With TPACK activity was helpful in the sense that the transfer of knowledge works best with active and dynamic learning activities connected to them, which this activity certainly was. I am just not sure if all of the other components were present. (Please see bulleted list from below taken from “How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School” by Brandsford, 2000.) There was initial learning but we were involved in so many activities that the brain may simply hadn’t enough time to process or perhaps we did not spend adequate time sharing out to embed the learning that people had been involved in. We did have previous learning about the maker and repurposing but I am thinking that our learning was simply saturated. Sometimes students need a little time to just “sit with their learning”. That is, revisiting concepts is a highly powerful way to transfer, as well.
- Initial learning is necessary for transfer, and a considerable amount is known about the kinds of learning experiences that support transfer.
- Knowledge that is overly contextualized can reduce transfer; abstract representations of knowledge can help promote transfer.
- Transfer is best viewed as an active, dynamic process rather than a passive end-product of a particular set of learning experiences.
- All new learning involves transfer based on previous learning, and this fact has important implications for the design of instruction that helps students learn.