Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Chunk, Chunk, Chunk and Then Chunk Some More!

Many times when presenting kids with new information it can seem overwhelming for both the adult (even teachers!) and the child. Most topics and tasks come with lots of new vocabulary, understandings and constructs. For example, it can be difficult to teach a toddler the process for brushing his teeth independently for the first time. For adults, it seems so simple, but in the eye of the child it can be overwhelming, and in turn, difficult. This process can be eased by using the strategy of chunking.

Chunking is when you take a complex or overwhelming task or information and break it down into smaller “chunks.” When talking about brushing our teeth, we may start out by simply introducing the child to the idea that the tools they use are a toothbrush and toothpaste. After a child is comfortable with the vocabulary of the tools then we might introduce them to step 1. We can begin to add more steps as they are comfortable until the process is complete. In school, we can chunk instruction, assignments and tests. Sometimes tests are long and overwhelming. Students may become resistant or incapable of completing the test to their highest potential because their anxiety is too high. And so, we can chunk the pieces of the test by cutting the pages apart and presenting the student with only one question at a time.

Test That is NOT Chunked
Test that IS Chunked
The possibilities for chunking are endless. The main point is to consider how overwhelming the information or task may be for a child and then chunk it as needed. 
Ultimately, we can teach our students to chunk new information and tasks on their own in order to foster further independence and self confidence in their learning.

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