Saturday, September 13, 2014

How Do I Figure Out What Students Want To Investigate?

How do I come up with the inquiry ideas we have done? It all comes from the kids and what they are interested in.  But how do I figure out what they are interested in?  It is more than just asking!  Here is how I do it!

I started out the year by setting up areas for play and what we call "Provocations." Provocations are different from "Centers" in that I do not provide any specific instructions on how the students are to use the materials, only on how to take care of the materials. Some are literacy or math related, some are on trays, but most are items that I set out along with materials to encourage the use of math and literacy skills.  You can take a look at some of my beginning provocations and areas of play in my August post here: .  I have many areas where I set up areas of play and provocations which change through the year. I also read a variety of books that may spark an interest, or a student may bring something from home that sparks interest!

This year was hard! They explored all the items but didn't get excited or hyped up about them. I found this guy and thought he may spark some interest...

But he did not!  They thought he was cool, but didn't start wondering or asking questions. Then a friend brought in this beautiful nest with these teeny eggs.  I thought that might spark some interest!

But the same thing happened. They initially thought it was great, but didn't wonder or show they wanted to take it further!  Then I started noticing some trends in their play!

A lot of experimenting with balance....

I also noticed a ton of experimenting and excitement in the measuring area...

Measurement and balance came together in the Lego area with the creation of this balance scale...

Also a lot of exploration with Symmetry...

and patterns!

So now I have to figure out what to do with this information!  What could incorporate balance, measurement, symmetry, and patterns?  I'm thinking maybe something along he lines of a bridge inquiry? Our playground could use a bridge! That would be a great project! Or maybe a structure inquiry where we could investigate how different structures are built?  I have never explored these concepts in the past so I will continue observing and then start planning! That will take some time so meanwhile I am going to set out some color and fall provocations for them to explore and investigate while I dig deeper into these concepts and integrate the Common Core Standards! 

Through the fall and color provocations we will focus on "making our learning visable" or "showing our thinking" through documentation and observational drawings using new and beautiful materials!  

I can't wait to see what inquiries, investigations and projects this year will bring!

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