Monday, November 21, 2011

Inquiry Buddies...Part Two and Three!

My inquiry buddy journey began with a conversation between two teachers who wanted to find a way to not just wonder in our classrooms, but to act on our curiosity.  We moved to Part One...reading the questions that our first grade partners had and researching the answer.  The next step???  It was the day the fourth and first graders met in the library to celebrate their wonders.  It began with the first graders reading their questions and talking with the fourth grader about everything that they thought they knew about their topic (building background knowledge :).  Then the fourth grader read the text that had the answer to their question, looked at photographs, read captions, and talked...talked...talked!  Together the buddies wrote down the answer to the question in one sentence, glued a picture of their topic in their Questions Notebook, and illustrated a picture that went along with their new learning.  After that...the buddies selected any book that they wanted and just read together.  Here are some photographs of their work...

(coming soon...)

Then, came part three!  My fourth graders have an Inquiry Workshop three times a week.  During one of the workshop times we bring in the laptops in to extend our learning to reading on a computer.  Many students had voiced concerns with reading and finding information on the Internet during their beginning of the year reading interviews.  This provided a great opportunity to guide students through the process.  The fourth graders reread the answer to their first graders' questions and then thought about the question we sometimes never ask...what do I want to know now?  My students generated new questions based on their curiosity and used the Internet to find the answers (great time to talk about credible websites:)!!!  Here were some examples...

The first grader wondered... /The fourth grader wondered...

What do people need to grow?/ What are the healthiest foods?
Why is gold shiny?/Why do we not use gold for daily money?
Why are snails slow? /What is the fastest and slowest type of turtle on land?
How long ago did dinosaurs live?/How did dinosaurs become extinct?
Do sharks have scales?/How many teeth do sharks have?

The students then wrote their new learning in their Questions Notebook and shared it with the whole class.  And...of course...I had their new first grade wonderings waiting to be read! Time to start the process all over again!  It is amazing when you see students filled with purpose, wonder, and choice.  Their excitement for learning becomes contagious!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thank you Wonderopolis!!!

How exciting!  I had posted earlier in September about, Feeling Moody.  My class was exploring the moods that an author suggests with their words and phrases.  My class connected their learning to mood rings. We assigned colors to moods and created paper mood rings to provide evidence of our thinking.  Students would color the jewel at the top and then write evidence inside the text to support the word they had chosen.  I found the idea at  Just type "mood ring" in the search box and you will find several free printables...including the paper mood ring graphic organizer that I used.

The next day a student came into the classroom and had researched everything about mood rings.  How they work, what the colors mean, and when they became a fad.  One student in the class said, "I can't believe Wonderopolis does not have one on mood rings.  They have everything!"  So...our class emailed Wonderopolis and nominated a wonder.  It appeared this past week!  And in less than two months time!  The wonder is called...How Do Mood Rings Work?  I can not wait to share it with my class tomorrow...check it out!  Thanks Wonderopolis for acting on our curiosity!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Off course but on track!

As in all things in life, what you have planned...does not go as planned, but the new journey is worth the ride!  I had done a previous post on developing a Wonder Block for my class.  The vision was designed over the summer, but as special schedules were handed out, team teaching times with intervention teachers were decided, computer times were established, and all the other components that go into developing your classroom schedule were Wonder Block took a detour.  What was developed and what has been explored...definitely worth the detour!

My Wonder Block is now a three day routine.  It actually starts on a Friday.  On Fridays my class explores a Wonder of the Day from Wonderopolis that extends our thinking from a unit we are studying.  For example, we were studying the four regions of Ohio and learned that the Till Plains Region is known for corn and popcorn.  So...we studied the wonder...What makes popcorn pop?   We were studying the Lake Plains Region and found that a point of interest was Cedar we studied the wonder...Where is the fastest rollercoaster?  This past week we studied slow changes that occur to the Earth's we studied the wonder...How deep is the Grand Canyon? Looking ahead to this week we studied weather and erosion so we will be exploring the wonder...Why is the Statue of Liberty green?

Each Friday we do a quick write of what we THINK we know, what we KNOW, and what we WONDER.  We then share and celebrate all of the thinking we bring to this one question.  Next we watch the video and/or I have them watch an additional short clip.  For the rollercoaster one, I found a video of someone who videotaped their ride on the fastest rollercoaster.  Or for the Grand Canyon, I found a video of the skywalk at the Grand Canyon.  One video gets them thinking and the other starts providing details.  Students then "jot" down any thinking that is now KNOWN or CONFIRMED and draw a sketch of their new learning.  After that, we read the article, answer the questions in written form, and ask the most important step in inquiry...what do I want to know now?  I have books on hand that represent the topic or an additional article.  I also open up the computers to research the answer of new questions.

We now use day two and three to continue researching our new wonders or to work on our new wonders that were developed during our Inquiry Buddy time with first graders.  This has opened up three moments in my busy weekly schedule for non-fiction, wonder, and time to act on curiosity in the form of research.  Each wonder branches off of an initial lesson that connects directly with our state standards.  And the best is motivated by choice.