Friday, January 8, 2010

Enhancing Auditory Learning

I know there is a lot of broohaha over learning styles these days and I don't intend to make this blog into an educational resource. But I do not learn very well by listening to instructions and therefore I do not teach very well by giving verbal instructions. I am very much a visual and kinesthetic learner.

So I was pleased as punch when 80% of my Geometry for Teachers class was all about learning how to give instructions. While my classmates groaned about quadrants and planes I secretly soaked it all in.

When The Thinker was putting together a Lego creation the other night I jumped at the chance to work with him. Legos, or other building blocks, are perfect for this exercise because they are descript, in color, shape and size. I happen to be married to a man who ate, slept and breathed Legos growing up so everyone in my house knows what a 1 x 2 and a 2 x 6 are when speaking Legoese. Also, Legos come with great detailed instructions which help the speaker to give directions. This is not what he was building but this would be a great starting point for a kindergartner or first grader.Try this at your house, hold the instructions to where the listener can't see them and give him very explicit directions. Don't say "take this and put it there", say "stack the two blue 2 x 4s and place them one row from the right on the second and third post so the long end is facing you" This would be a great opportunity to practice left and right, top and bottom, etc. The biggest trick to this is the listener has to keep the creation turned the way you are reading the instructions. Keep it light, if he starts to get frustrated put it away and try with something simpler another time.

Let me know if you do this and how it turns out. You'll learn as much, if not more, than the listener. Oh yes, and make sure the instructions are for something he's never built before or else he'll be doing it from memory instead of listening to you.


  1. You're welcome to have more educational posts for me...I enjoy them! hhhmmmm I wonder if my kids could follow oral directions like that? I may have to try :)

  2. They have this very exercise at the COSI museum. There is a one way window where the person giving the instruction can see what the listener is doing. And they are using legos. Very interesting.



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