Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Curious Classrooms

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. ~ Walt Disney

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. ~ Albert Einstein

Every Tuesday, I visit the first and second grade classrooms to introduce thinking strategies and encourage creative thinking. I recently decided to begin introducing the habitudes that I read about in the book, Classroom Habitudes written by Angela Maiers.

I began by asking the students for their definition of curiosity. We talked about what it is, how it is helpful, and how we can use it to become better thinkers. We looked at a picture from 101 Questions, which is a wonderful website that encourages questioning. I love this website because not only were we able to practice questioning, but inferencing as well. As we looked at the picture, we came up with several questions. After we had finished coming up with our questions, I asked students to infer based on what they could see in the picture.

Based on this picture, students asked things such as:

"Why is he jumping off of the cliff?"
"Is the water deep?"
"Is he jumping into the ocean?"
"Is he crazy?"

I then asked them to infer the following based on what they could see in the picture:

What time of day is it?
Who is with him?
Do you think he has done this before?
How deep is the water?

As we made inferences, we explained our answers and gave evidence from the picture of why or why not we thought they were correct.

After this activity, I explained to the students that we were going to go outside and collect one object each from nature. I explained that they could choose a rock, flower, grass, or anything else that they found as we took a quick walk. We went outside and I gave them about five minutes to search for their object and come back together as a group. The beautiful weather made this part of the assignment even more fun.

Students returned one by one with their objects. They were excited and very proud of what they had chosen. They couldn't wait to show me their objects and wanted to know what we were going to do with them. When we returned to the classroom, I gave each student a notecard. I asked them to put their name on one side and on the other side, they were to write down five questions about the object that they had collected.

This part of the lesson was a great opportunity to discuss sentence structure. We discussed starting our questions with a capital letter and ending each sentence with a question mark. We also talked about using a variety of question words like where, when, how, and why.

I then gave them time to observe their item and think about their five questions. I was so impressed with their questions and their level of engagement. They were discussing, sharing, and focusing on their objects. As they finished, I snapped a few pictures of their finished products.

This was such a fun activity and a great way to introduce curiosity to young students. As a teacher, I want my students to open new doors and do new things because they are curious. Curiosity encourages learning and creates learners that seek out problems to solve. As educators, we should strive to create a curious classroom in which students question, discuss, share ideas, and ultimately find answers and solutions to those questions.


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