Graduating college in 1970, I found myself teaching Physical Science in a school located near Dallas’s public housing projects. The school’s book room refused to issue textbooks for each student; however, I could have thirty textbooks for my room! What? I quickly resorted to doing experiments that the textbook only showed in pictures. No matter that many of the experiments were failures. Failed experiments gave students the opportunity to discover something on their own. Since many of the ninth-graders did not read, we dramatized concepts such as Brownian motion, the random collision of particles in a gas/liquid, using kids as moving molecules. Afterwards, we would talk about what we had done...dialogue, and finally, we reviewed what we had covered, which was drill. Do, Discover, Dramatize, Dialogue, and Drill are the KONOS 5 Ds of Learning. I was practicing them the first year I taught in public school and did not even know what I was doing...but I knew it worked!

KONOS 5 Ds of Learning 

Do...to capture attention. In the “Resourcefulness” unit, physically setting up an electric circuit captures the child’s attention unlike merely reading about electricity. Greater understanding and retention happen, because more than the sense of sight is used to collect information. Hands-on activities literally bombard the brain with the same information from every sense, keeping the most inattentive focused.

Discover...to foster thinking. When a student utters, “Oh...I see!” something has clicked in the child’s brain, and because he has discovered the answer rather than being told the answer, he will never forget it. Because little or no instructions are given, good discovery activities stimulate thinking as the child takes the initiative to observe, experiment, and draw conclusions.

The ultimate discovery activity is in the “Endurance: Russia” unit, which teaches the abstract idea of communism. Reading Marx will not net understanding of communism, but a communist lunch will. Pack each child a fabulous lunch with loved items, including Hostess Ding Dongs. When lunchtime rolls around, mom pins Russia’s flag on her shirt, informing the kids that she is Mother Russia, and she asks the kids to pass the state’s lunch to her. She reminds them that there is no private ownership in communism, only state ownership. If a child objects, she banishes him to Siberia (the bathroom) explaining that there is no dissent allowed in communism either, because Mother Russia takes care of her people by following the communist tenet called “redistribution of wealth.” Practice redistribution by giving each student one potato chip while Mother Russia eats all the sandwiches and Hostess Ding Dongs in front of kids. Whoa! Through personal experience kids discover communism and become staunch capitalists to boot!

Dramatize...to visualize. It is easy to imagine history being dramatized, but...science? Dramatizing photosynthesis makes an abstract concept visual: H2O is a kid wrapped in a white sheet covered with paper raindrops, holding a watering can, sporting lightning eyebrows. CO2 is a kid with CO2 pinned on him and clear plastic bags tied on him to simulate a gas. The sun has sunglasses and a sun mask, while the chlorophyll, where photosynthesis takes place, is a kid in a baker’s hat named Chef Cloro Phil. He’s ready to mix all ingredients together to get a bag of sugar!

Dialogue...to internalize. Jane Healy, Ph.D., in her book Endangered Minds, states, “Conversation builds the executive brain.” Healy cites the writings of Russian neuropsychologist Alexander Luria, who believed that using language—both internal language, where one talks to one’s self, and external language, where one talks to others—helps shape a child’s “growing powers of reasoning.”