August 30th, 2012
What are your students passionate about? What have they learned? What do they wonder about? These are the questions that Brad Buhrow (Ladybugs, Tornadoes, and Swirling Galaxies) and Mary Shorey (Many Texts, Many Voices) ask at the beginning of the school year. What do you wonder about as you begin the year? Leave your comments to be entered to win a free Stenhouse book at the end of our back to school series.
The Curiosity rover made it to Mars after an eight month space voyage. I was fired up to watch the landing events online, and even more so because I was able to see the launch while I was in Florida last November. For some reason I was curious and wanted to see the launch in person, with my binoculars in hand. Maybe I’m lucky, that as an adult, I’m still curious and wonder about our world.
What about you. Do you still have a sense of wonder?
“The more we learn the more questions we have”, John Grotzinger, Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) project scientist, said during an interview after that landing.
Learning, questions and curiosity, the kids and mine, is how I begin the year with our new second graders. If there is one thing that I need to begin the school year, it is for me to bring a sense of wonder. It is energizing. The kids pick up on it and run with it. They want to observe, talk, draw, write and read to understand.
Guess what? All you need are a bunch of compelling nonfiction books filled with photographs, or some real stuff, some markers and post-its and a clipboard.
The kids take off drawing, and writing what they learn and wonder!
Use a language frame, I learned_. I wonder_?, to help them get started writing.
The kids become passionate readers and writers in the process. They can’t help it.
So what are you waiting for? Grab some post-its, markers and a clipboard. Let them have at it. Stop and notice with them as they bend down to the crack in the sidewalk to get a closer look at the ants crawling from their colony, and look up to the sky to watch the clouds move and the sky change. Let them make their curiosity and wonder about their world visible to all by writing and drawing. And best of all, it’s fun!
As I begin another school year, I smile as I think about all the children I have taught…all the lessons I have learned. I am reminded of the challenges and the many rewards that are inherent in my chosen profession…and the responsibilities I have. I pray that I will be able to encourage and inspire these young minds. The curriculum is my road map, but the paths we take are unchartered. My students and their needs will determine them.
So I’m inspired, and it’s time to begin to build community. I look for things the students can do to help organize the classroom for the year. Together we create the birthday chart, the job board, and classroom rules. We make a list of things we’d like to explore and learn about. We record our favorite books, authors, and genres, and create our “expert chart.” I always ask my students about the routines, activities, lessons they liked in second grade that we can continue in third. We interview each other. I provide “choice” time so I can see what peaks their interests (i.e computers, books, art supplies, writing materials, math manipulatives)…and soon we’re off and running!
Entry Filed under: Leadership & Mentoring