But then I had one student make me a hamburger.

"Aquifers are like hamburgers to me - all those parts are connected. Let me explain it to you."

And explain it he did. His explanation why each of those words was layered together revealed a good deal of understanding - not only as to what the words were, but how they all worked together to describe how aquifers work. If I had asked him to write it, I never would have gotten the level of understanding that I did. Not that we shouldn't have students practice their writing skills, but I feel that we have to allow students to show what they know in a multitude of ways.

After all, that's what this teaching thing is all about - getting at what students know, understand, and are able to do. We have to allow students to show us what they know in a variety of ways. I'm sure that doesn't seem like a huge revelation to most of us, but there are still classrooms out there where students are shoved into one-size-fits-all assessments that do nothing to reveal to us where students are at in their learning.

I have to admit I was surprised by his fantastic explanation. But it's even more surprising when you realize this is the same student that hated my class so much at the start of the school year.

I guess we're gaining understanding of each other while he gains understanding of aquifers.