Did you ever have one of those "dotty" relatives who talked to themselves while they worked?
We'd giggle about how Uncle Sam would be talking to his tools and describing to the tool what he was going to do before doing it. Now that I've taught for a few years I realize that this was a great teaching technique. I use it all the time now and will often think out loud so my students can hear my thought process. It makes me sound a little dotty and I'm sure my kids giggle behind my back too. I started doing this when I was a Social Studies teacher and would talk to the text book's author and ask him questions as though he were there in the room. I'd admonish my students to develop a two-way relationship with their textbook. "There is a person behind those words, learn to talk to him. Ask her questions!"(I'd like to take credit for coming up with this idea but I heard it in a workshop.)
I use this often with my kids as I talk myself through the steps it takes me to accomplish something. I find when I don't do this, what I've done looks like magic. Like it just happens. I had a friend once in frustration say to me after I solved a technical problem she was having, "How did you do that? Do you want to keep me stupid?" I realized that I had done all my thinking in my head and it just looked like magic. I'm trying to do think outloud more with the adults around me but for some reason I feel more self-conscious with my peers. Maybe I don't want them to think I'm dotty?
I wish my dad had talked to himself more while I was around. I think maybe I would have learned more as I followed him around the construction sites where he worked. I think we would all do better with a few more dotty adults hanging around. But, if you are short on dotty relatives take a look at this site, Remodeling for Geeks. I read the posts regularly to pick up a few of those tidbits of wisdom I missed while growing up. He has a couple of posts that explain tape measures. I thought when I saw this, "I know how to measure." Well guess I had a few things to learn.......if Dad had only talked to his tape measure!
[Image captured from Remodling for Geeks: http://theheadlemur.typepad.com]/remodeling_for_geeks/]