Monday, 24 June 2019

Curiosity

I know it has been a long time since I have posted and I have just been really investing my time into family and my classroom.  I have felt uninspired with my teaching and I guess I felt like I had nothing to share, that is really the sad fact of it.

BUT!

I have found inspiration again through a Kath Murdoch seminar I have attended this week.  You know when you go to a Professional Development and you want to go back to your classroom and start using these strategies straight away. You try but you have to put all these other things in place first and then it all becomes too hard.  Not this time!

Kath Murdoch teaches with an Inquiry Learning approach. She talks about curiosity and questioning, she talks about wonderings and the beauty that our students find in learning.

It got me really thinking about my teaching practice and how I encourage this in my classroom. I thought I had created an environment that let my students ask questions and explore, but you know what I had only dipped a toe into that pool.  I came back to my classroom after 2 days and I looked at it with a critical eye.  I looked at my transitional art table, I looked at my library, I looked at my Wonderwall.  I knew I could do more.

I made 2 changes that made a difference on the day, I gave my students more choice with the transitional art.  I moved my Wonderwall to the front of the room, I added a photo of each child and made it more visible, I added my own picture and put a wondering there.

Then I thought about how I was going to frame my lessons for the day.  I had scheduled spelling, writing, maths groups among other things.  Previously in my spelling I would have sent them to find words with the long i sound.  Today I asked them a question, What is making the long i sound?  The result was a much broader range of words that we could add to our word wall, they were looking more deeply at the words and where the sound was. They then created categories for their words.

In writing we have been investigating the bandicoots that live in the bushland near our school. We have been incredibly lucky to take part in Nature Play this year and our kids are loving it. There is a resident bandicoot that comes out to see what all the commotion is when our kids are playing there. So instead of framing our non-fiction writing as a research statement, I framed it as a question.

What impacts do we have on the environment of bandicoots?

Image result for bandicoots in tasmania
For those that don't know a bandicoot is a small Australian marsupial.

The engagement was incredible! The thinking and responses were thoughtful and relevant, I even got some further questions to investigate! We did out First Thinking and at the end of our research which will include observing the bandicoots, we will do Second Thinking.

Can you already see the amazing learning that has been happening?
It didn't stop there!

During maths groups I work with a small group for 10-15 minutes so that I can do some explicit teaching and really get a good sense of each child's understanding. I wanted to teach a specific strategy for addition, but I needed to know what strategies these students already had. So I posed this question;
How can you turn 2 numbers into 1 number? 
Can you get a different answer each time?

I'm not going to lie, some of my kids were blank, some of them asked permission to use number line, counters, ten frames all of which I said absolutely!  Here was the really interesting thing I found out, without fail they all used addition with differing strategies. With some of my kiddos I used this as an opportunity to clear up some misconceptions or explicitly teach a strategy. One thing that really jumped out at me is that I need to revisit subtraction.

I am really just at the very beginning of this journey and I am so excited to be able to share it with all of you.

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