For those of you new here, I'm Kayla - a 1st grade T working to familiarize myself with this Design Thinking awesomeness. We're continuing on with Phase 2 of our Launch Cyle, but below I've provided our ThingLink #LaunchBook schedule in case you've missed out on any of the previous reflections & posts. Just hit pause and we'll all be here when you're ready!
Have you had the opportunity to interact with a 3 year old? They're curious. These little humans are at the stage in their lives where they begin exploring the world. They roam, they touch, they ask "Why?" every other sentence they speak, and they're on a mission to try and figure out how everything in their reach works.
Do any of these statements ring a bell?
"Don't touch that, that's not yours."
"You shouldn't ask that question to that stranger, it's not polite."
"Don't go over there, come back here!"
As children, we're curious.
Before starting my teaching career, I worked as a Leadership Consultant traveling to universities across the country to provide training and leadership development to collegians involved in on-campus organizations. One of the biggest aspects of my job was to train these 18-20 somethings on personal connection and vulnerability in conversations. In order for us to make those connections, we need to be curious about the lives of others. What I found working with these students, is that it was challenging for them to be curious and ask 'deep' questions' that could potentially lead to establishing real, authentic relationships with other students.
Our society tells us....
It's not polite to ask them their political views because it might conflict with yours and create hurt feelings
We've been taught....
It's better to neglect the fact that they are enduring a loss because you don't want to remind them of the hurtful feelings.
Quickly I began to realize that it wasn't necesarrily their fault for being hesitant on asking more intimate questions to build those connections. That's what they've learned growing up. We have trained them as parents, mentors, and teachers that it is not okay to be curious in real-life interactions. It's rude. It's impolite.
That becomes a mentality, but it does not need to remain a mentality.
Let's get started.
Phase 2: Ask Tons of Questions
To be curious.
And to know that there is nothing wrong with wonder and curiosity in our world.
In a traditional old-school setting, teachers are doing all the talking and giving students directions on how to solve or complete problems. Even when we strive for a student-centered inquiry approach, we usually end up providing students with everything they need to get the right answers or to "succeed."
Spencer & Juliani suggest that students should ask as many questions as they answer. Think back to the most prominent inventions created, or the scientists who've worked endlessly to provide answers to us for our world's unsolved mysteries. Their work is influenced by their wonder and curiosity in what has yet to exist. When we encourage students to ask their own questions, they get the chance to own the entire learning process (Spencer &Juliani, p.98).
A few examples of questions from Spencer's class:
Is it true that you can't drink a whole gallon of milk in an hour?
Why does metal always seem cold in a classroom if it's been in the same room temperature?
What makes the ripples in water?
Reading these questions has allowed me to realize all the questions I'm sure my first graders have as they continue to learn about the world around them. One question I distinctly remember one of my students asking was: Where do balloons go in the sky? I should have LATCHED on to that opportunity, but I didn't. Instead we continued on with our day. ARGH. Before learning about the Launch Cycle, I was not providing my students with as many opportunities to ask the questions circling through their absorbant brains because I was so focused on their reading, writing, & math curriculum.
So HOW can we do this successfully?
If you're looking for strategies to use immediately in your classroom to teach students how to develop student inquiry, check out these 14 [paraphrased] tips suggested in Chapter 5:
1. Question everything: analyze mathematical processes, thinking through social issues, analyzing the world for cause and effect.
2. Wonder days: students research their own question to summarize and ask further questions.
3. Give feedback on questions: peer-to-peer specific feedback (i.e. "This question is deep, but it's worded in a way that elicits a short answer response. Can you change it so that you draw a longer response?")
4. Model the process: model the types of questions that require deeper thinking. Ask the students a challenging questions, followed by: "Why was that a hard question to answer." This allows students to be exposed to deeper questions.
5. Practice it often: mock interviews, fake press conferences, debates, etc. Activities where students are required to ask questions.
6. Spend more time playing: EXPLORATION!
7. Provide support: using sentence stems, visuals, and sample questions.
8. Explain and model the different types of questions: teach students about clarifying, critical thinking, and inference questioning.
9. Embrace student choice: when students have the opportunity to spend time working on something they love or are passionate about, their intrinsic motivation and determination will increase.
10. Use multiple grouping options:
- Students ask teacher questions.
- Students asking other individual students questions.
- Groups specifically assigned for students to ask each other instead of the teacher.
- Students ask the whole class a question.
11. Slow down: slow and percise learning leads to inquiry. There is no need to rush the learning process.
12. Follow rabbit trails: in a single moment when curiosity is sparked, go and chase it! Do not let it run away never to be found again.
13. Share your own questions: when teachers model their curiosity, it breaks the barrier so that students feel more comfortablt that, they too, can ask questions.
14. Reduce the fear: students may be nervous to ask a "stupid" or "wrong question." Be transparent that there are no wrong questions.
If we can work to establish this curiosity in the Launch process and within our classrooms today, we can provide our students with the knowledge they need to build their curiosity in and out of our school walls. There will always be questions & answers waiting for us. As teachers, we need to emphasize that importance. It is not our job to provide students with all the answers. It is our job to guide and support them in the process to obtaining those answers through personal inquiry.
Thank you so much for joining us on our #LaunchBook journey! Stay tuned for the next post by my fellow Hiawatha Husky, Lori Horne, as she dives into Phase 3: Understanding the Information at Responsive Literacy.