Back to school: Mary Shorey and Brad Buhrow

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.

Brad Buhrow

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!

Mary Shorey

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

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kristen Elder-Rubino  |  August 30th, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Brad’s blog on Back to School about the importance of instilling curiosity and wonder from day one in his students through non-fiction texts, exploration and questioning-YES! This is the most powerful way to start off the year with your kiddos. BTW I loved the quote you cited from the scientist-“The more we learn the more questions we have.” SO TRUE for myself and my kiddos. Love and passion for learning, wondering and thinking is what it is about. I am looking forward to re-reading and reflecting on your book and sharing the sense of wonder with my new kindergartners this year!

  • 2. Laurie  |  August 30th, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Reading this blog was uplifting after a first day back to school meeting of data analysis and worry over, how to get started with new classes. It made me realize that I just need to take it easy, and let the children drive some of what goes on each day.
    I think my own motivation will come from them., and I will feed off of their excitement, and ideas.

  • 3. Kristen Elder-Rubino  |  September 5th, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Brad’s blog on Back to School about the importance of instilling curiosity and wonder from day one in his students through non-fiction texts, exploration and questioning-YES! This is the most powerful way to start off the year with your kiddos. BTW I loved the quote you cited from the scientist-”The more we learn the more questions we have.” SO TRUE for myself and my kiddos. Love and passion for learning, wondering and thinking is what it is about. I am looking forward to re-reading and reflecting on your book and sharing the sense of wonder with my new kindergartners this year!

  • 4. Marisol Payet  |  September 5th, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I teach 2nd grade in English and Spanish.
    One of my believes is to nurture my students to develop their curiosities about everything around them.I believe all kids have this in them.

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