Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dragonflies and Bumblebee Traps: Learning About Wondering, Inquiry, Documentation, and Problem Solving

We had a visitor come to our class last week! Here is a picture!

The kids were fascinated and of course the questions and observations started flowing!  
"Why does he have such a long tail?" 
"What do they eat?"
"Why are they so cool?"
"His eyes are so big!"
Some friends even took clipboards and started drawing it.  I was so proud that they thought to do that on their own!

Since I am working on letting the kids direct our learning, I grabbed onto the opportunity!  We created a chart and wrote down what they already knew about dragonflies. I told them that in Kindergarten we will spend a lot of time wondering about things and then find out answers to our questions. I asked what they wondered about dragonflies and recorded their questions on our chart.  

I then asked them how we could find out more about dragonflies?  How can we find the answers to our questions?  They answered that we could watch videos, use the computer and read books. As the year goes on, we will discuss more about tools we will use for research such as computers, phones, tablets, Google, YouTube, nonfiction books, etc. and use these tools together.  I thought it was interesting that none of them said we could try to catch more dragonflies to study.  I will have to try to hunt for some this weekend!

They were very fascinated with the big eyes so we took a closer look using our Promethium Board. I let them know that I found these pictures on Google Images. 

They noticed that they were different colors, different sizes, and took up most of their faces.  They also noticed they had hairy chins.  I used this opportunity to discuss what "documentation" is. We learned that when we document something, we want it to be as accurate as possible. We can document what we learn and what we notice!  We discussed using accurate colors and taking our time.  They all picked one photo and made their first documentation about what they noticed about Dragonfly eyes! Right now they are using pictures but later they will use writing skills to document also. Here is the chart showing thier documentation. We will use interactive writing to label it next week. 

We watched a video that taught us some facts about dragonflies. I let them know that I found the video on YouTube. We recorded together what we learned from the video.  This will go on our chart under "New Learning."  They learned that they can fly forward and backward.  They can also hover like a heliocopter. One friend made a connection to hummingbirds!  We learned that they cannot walk even though they have six legs!  They noticed that a damsel fly is different from dragonflies. They have long skinny bodies and rest with their wings closed.  Dragonflies have shorter, fatter bodies and rest with their wings open.  I realized that our little friend may be a damsel fly!  We will have to let the kids make thier observations next week and see what conclusion they come to! 

Next week we will look at the bodies of dragonflies and practice documentation through paint, sculpture, sketches, and labeling.  When we are done, we will put our documentation in the hallway to show everyone what we learned about dragonflies!

Another interest in our class started in the clay section of our art studio. Some boys started creating what they called Bumblebee Traps using materials set out for sculptures. Here are a few of the traps. 

They took them outside to our Butterfly bush because they noticed that there were bees around the flowers there. Some sat their traps underneath the bush. One friend tried to get his closer to the bees by holding it up higher. 

When the traps did not work, we brought them back inside and discussed what we could do? We had a great discussion about when things don't work or if you get a wrong answer, that is not a bad thing! Wrong answers and mistakes are used for good!! They were so surprised about this! Through our discussion, they all now know that if something doesn't work or we make a mistake or we give a wrong answer, it allows us to explore more to figure it out and solve the problem!  We decided that we will be a class of problem solvers!  So we set about thinking about what the boys could do to make their Bumblebee Catchers work. They know bees like flowers so they thought about adding flowers next time! One friend thought we could make a clay bee friend to attract bees. We ran out of time so we decided to continue our discussion next week!  The excitement in their eyes as we discussed this almost brought tears to my eyes!  

I seriously love this style of teaching. Following the students lead creates in them such an excitement for learning more!  In only three weeks we are becoming a community of explorers, wonderers, and problem solvers!

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