Keeping the Wonder Alive
About sixteen years ago I took a Science Methods class with Fiona McDonnell at Rivier College in Nashua, New Hampshire. This was the beginning of a fantastic journey that introduced me to the Inquiry Method, and eventually led us to grant work with teachers from around the state. Here we are so many years later, still asking questions, still observing children, and still seeing how powerful their own curiosity can be.
In my new position as Lead STEAM Teacher and PBL Coach I can now show a new set of teachers, administrators, and students what it means to truly connect, inquire, and empower-- to STEAM our way into the 21st century. It was so hard for all of us to be disconnected in the last two years, but in doing so, we were able to embrace technology as a different kind of tool, a way to stay close, to reach out globally, and not just in our community. I have made friends with other teachers all over the world, to share our ideas without boundaries. It is my hope that regardless of the size of your enrollment, you can introduce students to a whole world of collaborators and possibilities.
Share your thoughts
Hello from Southern New…
Hello from Southern New Hampshire!
I wanted to engage in some conversations about where we are in the Phases of Inquiry in our Post Pandemic classrooms. As I currently am working with students from 3 years old to 12, I am seeing more techies than wonderers. I was recently reminded by a colleague that maybe we need to "step back and help them to see again." The very next day I took the littles outside and asked them what they saw. I got some typical answers, but then one student saw a leaf float by in the air. "I see the WIND." We were off and running again... with 3 year olds-- led by 5th graders. The discussions were fabulous. :Can you really SEE the wind?"
Please enjoy the video glimpse into a school where we are connecting through what we see, feel, and care about: the future of our children's education.
Hi Rebecca: Thank you for sharing. I appreciate what you are doing with kids. The value of tactile learning and play is often overlooked. The lessons I still remember from elementary school are the ones that involved my hands and working with materials/projects. Continued success in making a strong impact through this style of teaching/learning. What things do you envision in the future for your program, things that you would love to see happen?
In reply to Play by Doug Scott
Hi Doug, Thanks so much for…
Thanks so much for your words of recognition and encouragement. I feel the same way about what I remember from school, especially the elementary years! We are all about creating more globally thought through experiences. For example, using themes like "Water," and then allowing every age group to do PBLs with that theme in mind. I'd like the older students to become ambassadors, and we already have them creating lessons, and working with the younger students (you may have noticed that at the beginning of my video). Overall, I would like students to associate with peers in learning pods based on interest and ability, instead of age, where collaboration is at the forefront, driving innovation.
LOVE the multi-age collaboration in your work!
Hi there, Rebecca!
In addition to my day job as a science teacher, I'm also a Girl Scout leader of a multi-age troop. We have Scouts from first through tenth grade -- and I LOVE how it engages EVERYONE in the room!
I also love how what you're doing asks students to reach beyond their at-home digital experiences -- it's such a valuable skill for the high schoolers I teach to learn how to "reach for that reach" when you don't yet know how to approach a problem. I agree wholeheartedly that wonder plays a tremendous role in motivation and engagement, no matter the age or current skillset of a student.
Thanks for showing us what your little ones are up to!
:) Kirstin, who also has a video in this showcase
In reply to LOVE the multi-age collaboration in your work! by Kirstin Milks
Thank you, Kirstin! I'm…
Thank you, Kirstin! I'm going to use "reach for that reach." That's a perfect way to describe what we are trying to model for our students.
Be a child
I love this short clip. I think thinking as a child and having imagination as the kid is the key way to engage today's child. Thank you for thinking this way!
In reply to Be a child by Yevgeny Pevzner
It's wonderful that you…
It's wonderful that you share this belief and the methodology is so important as we progress into the future, with students really being more comfortable with technology than many of us are, we can learn so much from their perspective!
Any thing is possible in a child's mind.
Imagination is the key to discovery. Education sometimes focuses on the right answer! This is when kids lose their imagination and become afraid of being wrong. The young have not yet learned to be afraid to use their imagination.
Observation and imagination. Two key attributes to long term problem solving.
In reply to Any thing is possible in a child's mind. by Andrew Frisch
Yes, Andrew! I totally…
Yes, Andrew! I totally agree, and feel like capturing this spirit of courage is what makes my job so fun. Thank you for your comments!
Great work, Rebecca!
Thank you for keeping the wonder alive with the little ones. I wonder, howe can we keep it alive as they get older? What changes?
Keep up the great work!
Hi Elegan, Thank you for…
Hi Elegan, Thank you for your comments! I have experienced this first hand, trying to "get the wonder back" with older students. I start out with the basics-- a lot of observation with engaging materials (crickets work well) and simple tools like magnifying glasses, paper, pencil, asking them to draw what they see. They learn the importance of documentation, labels, etc. I also ask them to record what they notice and wonder about. These recordings lead to more discussion and authentic investigations.
Ensuring that Students Engage with the World
Your use of natural experiences to build wonder and learning are so great! Pulling them out of what expected, but still using what's ordinary to create knowledge is so needed for our students!
In reply to Ensuring that Students Engage with the World by Ryan Mahn
Thank you for recognizing…
Thank you for recognizing this, Ryan! Yes, there is so much to wonder about if we look long and closely enough. Teaching these observation skills is so important.