Sunday, July 7, 2013

Using curiosity to get to know our new students...

At the start of the school year, we need to get to know our students....their likes, interests, favorite build our communities and begin to move students forward.  There are activities out there that do just that...pre-made All About Me posters, filling paper bags with five objects that reveal more about us, interviewing a fellow classmate, just to name three.  But what if we also nudged our students to share what they think about and learn about in our intellectual community.  What do they wonder?  What has made them stop and question?  What type of thinking would make them act?  Is it animals? Events from history? Art?  What experiences in their lives have led them to situations that created wonder?  Was it a family vacation?  A tree seen on a nature walk?  A story from a weekend with grandparents?  A news clip seen on television? Or watching a rollercoaster twist and turn over and over again?

I believe that students need an intellectual community that encourages wonder and promises a time to act on that curiosity,  Students need resources, technology, and time to have open inquiry and time to act on curricular inquiry.  Students also need opportunities for wonders to be shared and to have conversations with classmates that already have that known knowledge or clues to what we are wondering about.  I believe in supporting a community where known knowledge to new knowledge is just as important and valued as unknown knowledge to new knowledge.

One way to start the year is to have students bring in a picture of something that has made them wonder...something that has driven them to ask a question...want to know more.  Students would share their pictures and write a clue.  A clue that would give someone with "unknown" knowledge a starting point.

Here is the picture my son would bring in...
 His clue would be: Florida Panhandle

The picture and clue are then put on the following bulletin board...notice the computer right next to the interactive bulletin board?
During inquiry workshop, students can research more about the photograph.  There are no specific questions to answer and would pin what they learned on index cards next to the picture.  This is used for open inquiry, but could also open with curricular topics.

Directions: Once the board is filled with action and knowledge.  Repeat. :)

PS...No sea creatures were hurt in the photograph.  Just scooped up in a pink bucket and adored by many beach walkers.  They were released back to the Gulf within a few minutes.  Check out this site if you want to learn more about these creatures...Blue Button Jelly (link includes video of how they were they impacted with the Gulf Oil Spill from a few years ago?)

His second place photograph.  Clue:  White line shows how high the Cumberland River was. (2010 Tennessee Cumberland River Flood)


  1. You had to know that I would love this idea especially getting to know our students through wondering at the beginning of the year. Much better than get to know poster.

    1. I did this activity but not at the start of the year...I think it fits much better there. I saw this video about Wonderopolis on your Twitter account.

      This video could be a great launch to get kids to think beyond the obvious. Wish I had when I launched this part of inquiry workshop. Questions, Questions and Weird But True are great books to get wondering following!

    2. Great connections that I never made and I appreciate your honesty about when you might try something like this in your inquiry block of time.