How would it (learning) be different if we embraced student-led curiosity?I have been challenged on this by a colleague and found it difficult to explain what I meant by it, until I came across this article by Edutopia (GET ON THIS WEBSITE!) that was shared by them through Facebook and Twitter (@edutopia):
This term, I thought I would focus mainly on documenting thinking from 2 units in particular - our English unit on the novel 'Thai-riffic!' by Oliver Phommavahn, and our Humanities unit on 'Water Ways'. I was also going to collect any other visible thinking from other subjects, but these two would be my main focus.
I always start my units by getting students to map everything they know about the topic/ concept, then all the questions they may have about it. I found this idea which I may try next when introducing a new topic to 'shake things up' a bit...
Create a mind map of questions on the topic - a 'question explosion' if you will. Start with the topic/ concept in the middle, then create your questions about that topic on the first set of 'bubbles'. then record questions that come from the questions on the outer 'bubbles' and so on, until you have a mind map of questions.
I then give them the Statement of Inquiry for the unit, and we unpack what that means and pull out the important vocab needed to understand the statement. We add these words to out 'vocab wall'
From here, we engage in tasks surrounding the topics.
What I would like to happen, is using thinking routines, do less 'talking' and get the students to do more 'learning'. So not let them go nuts and have free reign, but to work with them to follow lines of inquiry that they have developed on these topics.
Hard when you have common assessment tasks at the end of the unit (just sayin.)
So far in our Humanities unit, we have created individual inquiry questions on the River Murray (they just came back from a 3 day camp there, so lots of connections and links to be made!) I helped them form these with the Question Starts Routine and then guided them in the formation of their guiding questions.
They then needed to produce a 'sketch notes' on the information they were finding in relation to their questions. I will post finished products of these later - they are looking amazing thus far. For those who don;t know what a 'sketch notes' is - here's one a made on the topic of 'Sketch Notes'!
In our English unit, we are studying the text 'Thai-riffic' by Oliver Phommavahn. A fantastic text to study for new transitioning year 7 students to a middle school. They need to analyse the text to prepare for the end assessment - a formal text analysis of the themes and main character. So how to prepare them?
Thinking Routines! YAY!
I made a 'graffiti' wall for my kids to explore Connections, Concepts and Challenges in the book. Whenever they wanted to add something, they were welcome to, even if it was in the middle of reading the story. Having this on the wall for all to see made their thinking visible. This was adapted from the 4 C's Routine - I am aware I only have 3 C's, the 4th one is coming...!
After reading a few chapters, we then conducted a 321 Bridge routine on the main character, Lengy, and changed it slightly to:
- 3 words to describe Lengy
- 2 questions you have about Lengy and 2 questions he might have
- 1 metaphor/ simile to describe Lengy
Lengy is like an eraser, he gets and feels smaller and smaller every time he makes a mistake.*Insert tears of joy from teacher here*
So far, my journey has been invigorating. All I can hope is that the kids are engaged and feel enthused to learn too.