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Wiki Response 14: Put Understanding First

Wiki Response 14: Put Understanding First

While the article was written for a secondary level audience, it was implications for elementary instruction just the same. Students in the early grades should also have opportunities to acquire information in organized ways, to make meaning of the new information as it relates to their experiences and learning in and beyond school, and to transfer and apply said knowledge to new situations.

Teachers have to move beyond finding satisfaction in students who "test well" or are able to recite the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution (or can create an artistic and jaw-dropping multimedia display for the science fair) and really push for rigor in transfer and application. Once students have a grasp of the abstract concepts, they will be able to produce output using the skills in literacy and language arts to communicate their thinking. Regardless of how much emphasis we put on language arts performance, students will be stumped to produce anything of value if they have no understanding. Yes, put understanding first... before (but never in exclusion of) Open Court, before basic arithmetic. The rest will fall in place.