Viewing 47 reply threads
    • Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Bird_Academy
      Supporting youth curiosity and questions is crucial. What strategies or tools do you use to encourage curiosity and questions? How do you inspire deeper observational and experimental questions? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
      You must be enrolled in the course to reply to this topic.
    • Anna
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      akleinsorge
      One strategy I use is even if they ask a reference question that I already know the answer to I may not answer it.  I don't want them to feel like every question they have already has an answer and that the teacher is the keeper of all of that knowledge.  Once they start feeling comfortable enough posing questions I don't want to undue that by answering questions as they ask them.  If they ask a reference question I may bring up another thing they observed and tie it into their question.  By using their observations to grow on their questions I feel like this is a way of scaffolding their learning, while still encouraging them to wonder and observe.
    • Jane
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      Banjojanie
      In the context of a topic of study,  supply students with artifacts that are unfamiliar to them, but that you know relate to that topic somehow. Do this just after they have had a basic overview to the topic. Then put them in the shoes of a scientist in that field to role play and venture  guesses about the significance of the artifacts and to suggest ways to test those guesses.
    • Beverly
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      bschieman
      I am a language teacher, but curiosity in any classroom is fostered by starting with the words, "What do you notice?" and encouraging students to use all five senses if possible.  Then you can build upon the notice statements with follow up questions.  To get to the observational/experimental level, it helps to ask them to wonder about how what they see right in front of them connects with what is going on outside this small space.  When they think about connections, this is when the questions and then possible experimental options arise...
    • Deanna
      Participant
      Chirps: 22
      DeannaW
      Connections-- I think I do need an "I wonder" board and making a digital one for DL is next on my to do list. Some students get motivated if they ask me some questions and I tell them I am not sure but find out and you can share next class. Students love to share what they found out- and it allows them to dig deeper.
    • Kristen Mae
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      kmaecarpenter
      When schools come visit us, we call them "field studies" instead of field trips to set the tone that when they come visit us they are going to be observing and studying the ecosystem we go out into. We encourage teachers to have the students bring their science notebooks and before we go into the ecosystem we pose a question: "why are fiddler crabs important to the salt marsh", "why is biodiversity important", etc and then have the students write down a hypothesis in their journals. It may be beneficial to also have them come up with their own questions and hypotheses about the ecosystems as the day progresses.
    • Kinta High School
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      KintaZoology
      Occasionally, I hope to do much more, I ask questions similar to the I wonder questions.  I usually phrase this as "Let us think about a few what-if questions. Or let us think out of the box for a moment."
    • Pam
      Participant
      Chirps: 33
      Pam Hosimer
      When I am working with students, I like to encourage their curiosity and questions by creating an atmosphere of trust and respect in the classroom. They know that their ideas are valued and that because I am the teacher does not mean I “know everything”. We all are striving to learn together. Often students come up with excellent insights and comments that enrich the learning experience and allow all of us to broaden our thinking. When these moments come up I embrace them and use them to direct my lesson to draw out more observations from my students. Now during the pandemic, as I am teaching into cyberspace on zoom or during a recorded lesson, I see the true value in the give and take I have with students in the classroom. And I miss it!
    • Cara
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      carafern
      I think this is something that I am so looking forward to developing! Other than asking students questions, and showing them teaching tools - I am struggling to think of how I actually encourage curiosity.
    • David Lockett
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      DavidLockett
      Instead of waiting for an interesting activity to come along, students will actively investigate and come up with their own activity ideas.Curiosity is the force that creates new ideas and leads teachers to take risks so that they can ultimately create their own success stories. Inspiring deeper observational and experimental questions by letting students explore topics of interest to them.
    • Jessica
      Participant
      Chirps: 27
      jmckenna
      My students have a STREAM journal they use during my class. In their journals, they record questions they have, sketch observations and complete assignments. Their journals are a place where they are encouraged to record questions they have about things they observe or about things related to the current content we are working on. I do have to explain that we may not be able to investigate or to find the answers to all of their questions but they can also find the answers to their questions when they are at home. I often discuss extension lessons or activities for students to complete at home to extend their learning. I am a special area teacher so I work with every class in the school. I have been trying to think of a way to manage 18 I wonder boards and where I would put them. I really like the idea of using a digital I wonder board on a Padlet. I am going to look into this for next year.
    • Laura
      Participant
      Chirps: 25
      Curious621
      My new strategy for this year is to get outside!  I have learned a great deal from my local park district, professional development, and this course so I feel more prepared to encourage questions.  I love the idea of classifying types of questions and encouraging students to do so.  I work with students who complete independent research projects and sometimes they come up with just a general area of interest and I ask questions of them- what else do you want to know about this topic?  If they find a similar study I ask how they could formulate a new question based on current research.  The whole scientific method process causes them to analyze their steps- what do they want to know, how can they learn or test that, and once an experiment is completed, what other questions pop up.  Initially questions are very basic but students do develop much better questioning skills as the year goes on.
    • S
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      Ladyhawk85
      Well, I am usually just as curious as my students are about things and that starts questions - they like having to find the answer or explore more when I am not the expert. I also throw the question back on them - What do you think? Are there other questions you might have? Look at -------. I challenge their thinking which leads to more or different questions. I invite other students in on the conversation - let the student who initially had the question to share her/his thoughts first. What ideas or questions can you add? Do you agree with what ----- is asking? What information might you need to explore this further? Taking a step back allows the students to take the lead.
    • Sarah
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      CoachGoody17
      In my classroom, we do have a question board, but it is very open-ended and we don't usually have a lot of time to get to them.  This is one thing that I hope to change this coming semester.  Sometimes too, the students ask questions that do not really have a lot of thought in them. It's like they just write a question so they can write on a sticky note and post it. (middle school). I feel like throughout my lessons and labs I do a good job with answering questions with questions to encourage deeper thinking and while I don't answer their questions with answers they want (ultimately, they want to know if what they did is "right") I also don't spend enough time diving deeper into their questions. IN order to inspire deeper observation and experimental questions, I feel I really do need to scaffold the scientific process in the same way the bird-sleuth guide lays it all out. This guide is going to help me help me students to be better scientists while helping them to care about answering their own "I wonder's" in a way that makes them feel like a scientist.  I am excited to use this in my classroom and see what happens.  I also appreciate the emphasis on good research and distinguishing between a prediction and a hypothesis.  Really Awesome Resource!
      • Deanna
        Participant
        Chirps: 22
        DeannaW
        You summarized my thought completely-- I want to spend more time diving deeper this year. Perhaps the DL will help
    • Julia
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      j.hardy
      Most lessons I do with students are a single lesson and do not see them again however, most of my lessons I cater to what the teacher has been teaching in class. Many times I bring in items to the classroom that is related to a topic they have been discussing/learning. I will layout my items and usually start the lesson with what do you think this or these items are, what are they for, how are they used, what are they made from, etc. As the lesson progresses we answer the basic questions but do not answer all questions and let some questions be deferred for follow-up later in class by their teacher or answers their question with another question to get them to investigate to learn the answers for themselves.
    • Antoinette
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      ahatzop
      Sylvia, you make some important statements.   I like the idea of bringing something into class if you don't have the opportunity to explore outside.  I have also mentioned that we have been fortunate to turn a large courtyard area into a garden of plants native to our own area--the north shore of Long Island.  Wow--what happened as our milkweed plants attracted milkweed bugs and butterflies and  our goldenrod plants attracted many different bees!  The K-2 children planted the garden, observed the plants through the seasons, and saw the change in the number of butterflies and bees that visited our garden.  The open-ended inquiry came naturally, and the children can't wait to explore and observe changes and talk about it with their classmates.  The conversations are quite interesting.  The students have nature journals to sketch and ask questions.  They also partner up and share an iPad to take photos and record the results of an experiment or observation.  When they listen to their recordings, they are inspired to help each other and go deeper into their questions.  The more time we spend outdoors, the more we discover....  
    • Sylvia
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      Sylvia_Qualls
      Some of these ideas I mentioned in the last lesson. Getting outside is a great catalyst for questions, but if that can't happen, then it is still possible to bring something into class whether it is skins, old nests, feathers, images, seed pods, oak galls or any facet of the natural world for students to document, notice, ask questions about and begin investigation with. It is also good to follow up with general questions/comments to garner more details & discussion like "tell me more about that", "does anyone else have anything to add", or "what does this remind you of". Out of experience I have backed off of anything prepackaged curriculum-wise, because it hasn't given my students an opportunity to become their own "knowledge holders". I don't want them to defer to me or any other adult, but follow up on their questions, and not just ask them and leave them their. I like to create conditions through walks, and pointing out things in a very general way. I have never done a Wonder board but I would like to do that this year. To me, the investigation process is very much like a prototyping cycle. So I draw a lot of parallels between what we do in STEM/STEAM lessons when we are problem solving. This also relates to when we are working on physical computing and have to trouble shoot. It is useful to create connections between these processes and experiences, even though they are not exactly the same. There is a lot of overlap and it helps my students to build their schema or metacognitive understanding of what the process of developing and testing a hypothesis is and does. I don't always ask the same specific questions, but in general I ask what do you notice, what do you wonder, what makes you think that, how could you find out about that? The general what, why and how questions tend to dig beneath the surface of things to help students look at how they could explore something. I do think it is important to be consistent and follow through, which I don't always do, partly because of time. This is another reason why I think a question box or a yearlong Wonder board could be really engaging.
    • Edna
      Participant
      Chirps: 26
      wvteacher87
      Making that real-world connection in Science piques student curiosity.  The majority of students seem to love anything we do outdoors.  I agree with the need to do some groundwork before going outside.  Discussions about types of questions and even the simplistic definitions of scientific terms.  The lessons went into great detail explaining some common misconceptions, such as hypothesis and how it can be misconstrued if saying it is an "educated guess." I like the idea of taking the reference questions and reworking them into observational and experimental questions.  I think I will get reference questions from several students when we start our project.  The idea of researching and checking the reliability of the source will be an excellent hook.
      • Jessica
        Participant
        Chirps: 27
        jmckenna
        Hi Edna,   I agree that making real word connections is important and a great way to spark curiosity. Whenever possible, we try to study local/native species and the environment around us.
    • Allison
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      allisonmurphy
      I find that responses are often different depending on if I'm talking to the kids inside our Nature Center or if we're outside in the park. In the Nature Center, they're seated at tables while I stand at the front of the room. In these situations, they know they're supposed to sit quietly and listen to the teacher. It's hard to start discussions like this. However, when we go outside and we are all standing together in a group, it helps to break down the barrier between teacher and student and we can begin to have a discussion as a group of scientists. As someone else pointed out, the shy students will also come up to me when we're outside. They are able to speak to me directly instead of saying something to the whole group and with positive reinforcement, the students gain more confidence to speak to me and the other students.
      • Edna
        Participant
        Chirps: 26
        wvteacher87
        Classroom setting versus a more relaxed environment definitely makes a difference with participation.  I have even seen this with remote learning.  Students that don't normally participate in class very much have been more involved with remote learning by having messaging and Zoom meetings.  The setting makes a difference for learning and participation.
      • Laura
        Participant
        Chirps: 25
        Curious621
        Interesting points!  I am going to incorporate more outdoor teaching this year so I will test it out!  :)
    • Nini
      Participant
      Chirps: 32
      Ninich
      I think it is important to establish that all ideas are valued, and set the scene for support and collaborative ideas.  I too was the shy one in class who listened far more often than I talked.  The gift of having a teacher who could recognize this and then facilitate sharing from the most talkative to the shyest in a way that allowed for growth in confidence as well as respect for other perspectives from the group.  I'm thinking about this spring when we were doing remote learning.  I developed a series of videos with a theme, and filmed things in nature.  I began to guide the viewer to observe rather than always name, and tried to model open-ended questions.  Through this class, I am learning that I will need to keep honing this skill of asking good questions.
    • Alana
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      C.cyaneus
      Positive reinforcement for any question asked. I notice that kids are more likely to keep coming up with ideas if the reply is along the lines of "great suggestion, i don't know the answer, how could we figure that out, who could help us?" Kids seem to ask more questions when they are outside and free of walls. It allows the "shy-est" kids to approach and ask without needed to raise their hand and ask their question in front of their cohort.
    • Jackie
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      JackieScott
      I do like to allow students to explore the questions they ask me. My favorite memory was during an observation I had. We were using a Gizmo about the digestive system. A student asked about what would happen if we rearranged some of the parts. My response was well come up to the board and let's see. The kids then had some other ways of wondering and asking questions. It was so much fun. I think allowing this sort of exploration allows for deeper understanding.
      • Pam
        Participant
        Chirps: 33
        Pam Hosimer
        I agree that allowing this sort of exploration allows for deeper understanding and I also think the questions snowball once you start this process. Students love to learn, especially if their teacher is learning along with them, and if it becomes a shared experience of discovery. My students have come up with the best questions and insights during sessions like this!
    • Kandis
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      Kandis+1
      I believe that students are great at asking questions that they want a simple answer to.  When out in the field with youth I tend to throw questions back at them or ask how can you find that out instead of giving them the answer and then throwing in "why do you think that you say that animal or plant in this habitat."   Most of the time in the classroom prior to field work, is giving youth tools they can use while outside, youth are encouraged to bring their notebooks with them to write down questions they have, take samples of species that they find interesting and want to know more about to encourage further investigation. I mentioned in one of my earlier post, that I always have the last meeting day as the field day at a local preserve, I think it would be interesting to reverse the outline of the program and have youth go outside first and then spend the next 4 weeks (4 hours) investigating things they saw or want to know more about.
    • Robin
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      Salthouser
      While I am not in a position to execute a lesson related to this chapter, I love some of the ideas, and strategies other class members use. Having worked as a public librarian, I would work with the participants to gain information literacy to ensure the resources used were reliable, and valid. The box with tips on how to use Wikipedia is spot on, and giving the students tools to evaluate online, and print materials for their research. Understanding how to evaluate the foundational information will support solid hypothesis development. Going outdoors, to explore, and journal sounds like a great way to get students to start asking "I wonder" questions. I appreciate learning about the Merlin, and eBird app and websites. These are good tools that can support science learning.
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 29
      Lingibbs63
      While leading hikes, I regularly incorporate at least one sensory awareness activity at some point during our outing, no matter the ages of the people with me. This may be a listening exercise or a 'count how many colors you can see from where you are standing/sitting'. Discussion about everyone's observations often lead to participants being curious about what they have seen or heard, and to many questions being asked. I often refer people to reference sources that might help them answer closed questions, and prompt them to think about how they might investigate open-ended questions. At times I pose open-ended questions myself. There are participants who have attended subsequent outings and related how they went about finding out answers as well - always a treat.
    • Kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 41
      Acorn Woodpecker
      Strategies and tools that I think are helpful to encourage curiosity and questions are as follows:
      • Kathleen
        Participant
        Chirps: 41
        Acorn Woodpecker
        • Set aside time to be outdoors regularly.  There is always something new to see that evoke curiosity.
        • Use the I Wonder board to park questions that cannot be addressed, but need to be acknowledged.
        • Revisit the I Wonder board to clear questions so learners find answers.
        • Create a welcoming, open, safe and comfortable environment for learners to explore.
        • Have a reference/resource library with age appropriate guides/materials for learners to use.
        • Secure field equipment for learners to use like hand lens, spotting scopes, binoculars, nets, etc.  Explain and support the proper use of the field equipment.
        • Introduce new objects often for exploration.
        • Consider having live animals in your classes - programs like Salmon in the Classroom really help engage learners. Watching things grow provides a powerful learning experience
        • Play games and have fun activities that support science concepts.
        • Invite local passionate speakers to interact with learners.
        • Have a place where learners can show their work and progress in different formats from posters to art or even theater.
        • Educators must also be excited since curiosity is contagious. Pass it on.
    • Kathy Nerdy Birdies
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      kbalman
      Our program is 100% outdoors and we allow students around 1.5 hrs (out of our 4 hr day) to explore on their own, we call this exploratory play. During this time students explore and interact with the natural world on their own without the educator guiding time. This allows students to support their natural curiosity, to discover, and to explore without barriers. They use all their available senses and their observations to try to figure out the world. We have found that this really helps students with their curiosity and their questions. We have found that students will approach the educators during this time to show us their nature finds, tell us about something they saw or did, etc. We then incorporate these experiences into our lessons. Sometimes we get a bit derailed from our scheduled topic for the day, but that is totally okay because we often end up having a deeper experience. Another key component of our program is that we begin each class with nature journaling. Students are able to journal about anything they wish though we do give them guidance on the types of things they should include in their journals on our first day. One of the things we encourage them to do is write down questions they have about their observations. During lessons, we encourage curiosity and questions by starting with, KWL charts - What I know, what I want to know, what I learned, or I notice, I wonder, It reminds me of. These prompts help students begin to think about our topic and guide them in asking questions.
      • Kathleen
        Participant
        Chirps: 41
        Acorn Woodpecker
        Sounds like a great program.
      • Linda
        Participant
        Chirps: 29
        Lingibbs63
        It is heartening to hear of your school allowing so much unguided discovery! Convincing schools to include any kind of outdoor time other than that spent on playground equipment into the school day is often a challenge here.
    • Jennifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      jenna132
      I have a table in my classroom where I put out items that I find interesting, such as:  shells, interesting seed pods, rocks, starfish, pictures, etc.  I also add new items to the table as I find them.  Often when I add new items, I will share them with the class and talk about how my curiosity prompted me to pick up the item and add it to the table.  I might also model what questions I have about the items.  As the year progresses, students also begin to bring in items to add to our table; they often want to stand up in front of the class and show their items (and of course, pass it around for everyone to observe or touch).  They might share what about the items peaked their curiosity or background knowledge they have about the item, for example, two years ago, a student found some cow teeth in the field.  He brought them in and shared them with the class.  As students observed the teeth, they (and I) of course had some questions about the teeth.  My main concern was about where the teeth had come from; I thought perhaps I was touching teeth that had come from a dead cow and that raised concerns about how the cow died.  My student, and later his father, explained to me and the class that cows will often lose teeth just like humans.  Without that table, I might never had found this out.  I would love to use the idea of I Wonder boards to encourage deeper observational and experimental questions with this idea of collecting items that catch our natural curiosity and cause us to wonder.  Before the items were merely for a quick activity that allowed my students and myself to share those "cool" things we found in the natural world.  Now I think it would be even better to make these things a part of our actual Science lessons.  We could choose to really observe some of these items and create experimental questions which we would hopefully be able to test out in our classroom.
    • Alaina
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      AlainaYoung
      Most of what I do is just a single lesson or program with a group, so I don't have the ability to see these children multiple times and explore things via experiments in the classroom. I can, however, inspire deeper questions while in nature and come up with ways to encourage participants to investigate and experiment further at home or at a future visit to our Preserve with family.
    • Phanh
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      phanhnguyen
      • To encourage curiosity and questions, I take students outside as much as possible. Having a journal and plenty of time are also helpful. School gardens as an informal learning setting is very conducive to this.
      • I still have a lot to improve on my skills to inspire deeper observational and experimental questions. So far, I often avoid giving them the answers, but asking further questions to their questions instead. Some students find this uncomfortable at first, but with the encouragement, they do respond to this kind of approach eventually. Another way is simply asking students to pose questions about something we come across in the garden.
    • Mark
      Participant
      Chirps: 25
      maroberts64
      When we have discussions about certain things, I like to answer students questions with my own questions, to have them think deeper about what they are wondering. "What do you think?" "How can we figure that out?" "Great observation! Does anyone else have thoughts on that?" Giving students plenty of time to observe and discover will naturally bring up questions and/or discussions that we can explore together. Writing down questions as they arise gives us something to look back at and discuss as we make plans to further explore a topic. Making sure students have tools to observe such as rulers and magnifying glasses helps them in their documentation and makes their experience stick. Then we can form some good questions, learn together, and make a plan for further projects.
      • Linda
        Participant
        Chirps: 29
        Lingibbs63
        Answering a question with a question is a great technique. I know that I was very shy through high school, and did not have a whole lot of confidence. I think more adults sincerely asking my opinion in this way, and conversing as more of an equal with me, would have helped develop that confidence more readily. Keep up the wonderful work!
    • Sara
      Participant
      Chirps: 30
      SaraPi
      Many of the classes I lead start with a group discussion determing who a scientist is, what do scientists do, and what tools do scientist use. Starting this way allows us to chat about the different fields of science and review that scientist ask questions, learn, and make new discoveries. This sets the stage for our outdoor explorations. When asked reference questions, I typically respond with a question, encouraging the student to slow down and think. Demonstrating curiosity and wonder is key so I get really excited when we spot animals. We also review how to move if we want to discover animals, so I purposely slow them down, quiet the group, and explain that sometimes we have to go into 'bobcat' mode if we want to see animals. This strategy also allows us to review trophic levels and keeps the students thinking about how animals respond in the wild. When we spot something we'll gather and ask questions to expand learning and hone our observation skills. Making curiosity and discovery a full body experience helps keeps my groups engaged and always on the ready for a new chance to learn! I rarely get the chance to have a group for more than a day as we run a lot of school trips, so my role is to model how to observe and get excited. I can't wait to incorporate what I'm learning in this course but that might be down the road for day camps next summer.
    • Amy
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      amyeroche1
      I like to take students outside a lot to do nature journaling.  I always struggle to find time to regularly discuss what we found and to encourage questioning like this.  I usually am good about it at the beginning of the year, but as the demands roll on throughout the year, I tend to do it less and less. We also have a "specimens table," where students bring in interesting things they've found out in nature-feathers, sticks, rocks, leaves, honeycomb...  That's always a favorite place to go and explore, a way of bringing nature into our class.  A lot of interesting questions begin at that table.  I want to work on being more purposeful in drawing out these types of questions with students this year.
    • Smriti
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      Smriti Safaya
      I work mostly with 15 - 18 year olds, so I like to start off with hooks or sparks that are one or more of these kinds of activities (depending on what is more appropriate for the topic):
      • a prop related to the topic; something relatable or unusual doesn't seem to matter, they all get a good series of question-building happening
      • controversial headlines from local/global news or magazine articles
      • story time! : read a story out loud (high school students miss that from their primary school days!)
      • field trip (in a different part of our campus or completely off-campus)
      • graphic/visual prompts: photo/photo exhibitions, videos, 360-degree VR video experiences
      • meeting/hearing from someone who 'lives and breathes' the topic
      In addition to many of the great prompts others have mentioned below about making observations and questioning, I also ask students to consider what information may be missing and why they may not be able to find the answer just yet (or what would they need to try to find out?).
      • Phanh
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        phanhnguyen
        Thanks for sharing! I really like the idea of asking students to consider what's still missing. I think that not only does it make them think deeper, it'll help them realize how answers to one question can lead to other questions, and that's how science is practiced.
    • Veronica
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      vhorton
      One of the single most important things I give my students to encourage their curiosity and questioning is a place and space to be curious and question. I invite students to explore and think on their own beyond the classroom by modeling what it looks, sounds, and feels like to be curious and wonder. I show them how to use science notebooks to write down and collect wonderings just like collecting seed ideas to write about in a writing workshop. I encourage students to carry a notebook around when they are not in school because wonderings happen anywhere. I model this by having my own notebook of wonderings and my enthusiasm in keeping it comes across when I share entries with my students. The notebooks are a great place to not only record questions and observations but also a place to sketch and draw what you see and think. I have found that doing actual drawing and sketching along with labels and captions can lead to observations and questions of more substantial quality and focus. I encourage my students to do such work in their notebooks with the use of various colored pens, markers, and pencils as well as post it notes.
      • Linda
        Participant
        Chirps: 29
        Lingibbs63
        I think it's great that you have them carry their journals and record observations and questions whenever they are motivated to do so. It inspired them to see inquiry as more than a 'school' thing, and can set them up for life-long learning.
    • Annette
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      AnnetteSteele
      I like to use phenomenon to foster students curiosity. This is simply put " an observable event". Usually there is no explanation given beforehand. So student discovery and interest is maximized.  It is sometimes as simple as a picture, or a gall on a twig, or leaves from a mint plant and the fact that students will, given time, smell them. All of these simple things presented to students can spark questions and lead to deeper investigations. I love to use a KWL  ( What I know, Want to know, Learned) chart that we can add to as the lessons progress. This helps students to recognize they have knowledge and questions that they want answered and it helps students know that they have expanded their own learning.  The trick is that this chart has to be a living document that is reference to daily and questions can be added to and expanded upon.
    • Dianne
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      dhaley1
      I will begin every new unit with a question and an activity to spark interest in the unit.  I try not to give step by step instructions or procedures and rather allow it to a time of discovery.  As the unit progresses, I start the new lesson off by review and questioning previously acquired knowledge.  This gives me an insight into what my students know and which ones need more time.  I often do a "What Do You Think? segment where I have students think about topic and then write why it may occur.  This allows students to think outside the box and predict.  However, I believe I can do more.  I want my students to do more daily observation themselves, collect data and report their findings.  I want to try new lessons where my students really see themselves as scientists.
    • Vanessa
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      CPAWS-Education
      We have a nature journal that we take when we are outside exploring/looking for birds/wildlife. In that book there is a few blank I wonder pages for them to jot down their "I Wonders" while we are out and reflect upon them in the classroom or during sharing circle. We could do an exercise where we take all of our research questions and see if we can make observational experimental ones from them.
    • Amy
      Participant
      Chirps: 24
      alrichardson
      Before a science unit or project begins I like to provide a "Hook" activity to get my kids excited about the new topic of study!  These hook activities that my colleagues and I created are meant to spark the student's curiosity and to get them asking questions about what they see.  For example before we teach our Plant Parts and Survival unit we show them a PowerPoint slide show of some really crazy looking trees.  Some are growing sideways, some have huge roots that are growing above the ground, and some trunks have twisted around other trees.  The minute they see these pictures they start talking to their classmates.  Usually someone shouts out "How did it get like that?"  Since many children have never seen trees like these (myself included) they have lots of questions.  Getting young children to share observational and experimental questions requires modeling.  My job is to help them reframe their question or guide their question so it becomes observational or experimental. After the "Hook" activity we can take it to the next step by making observations about the trees and plants around us at school.  Students could then formulate questions to be placed on the I Wonder board about the nature they see around them.
      • Sara
        Participant
        Chirps: 30
        SaraPi
        Great idea to show super strange plants as your hook for plant lessons. Who wouldn't be curious when you see a plant growing sideways or growing around other trees?!  Love that you set the scene for kids to be excited and marvel at the natural world. I think this serves as a great observation introduction, which will undoubtly make their outdoor experience even more special.
    • Johanna
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      jdelwood
      I begin by asking questions in class.  I usually have a few students in class who are inquisitive by nature so that they will naturally respond by asking questions.  This will lead to other students asking questions.  This will generate discussion and deeper thought on the subject. I make sure that the questions I am asking are open-ended questions that will lead to further discussion with the students.  I have experienced asking closed-ended questions and know how that brings discussion to an abrupt end.  I must work to get discussion and questions back on track if this happens.
      • Nini
        Participant
        Chirps: 32
        Ninich
        This reminds me that a teacher is a guide and helping to guide a discussion into that safe open ended inquiry mode when it has turned to more closed one answer questions is the true art of a good teacher.  My role as a support staff allows me to watch good teaching in action, and learn from the different styles.
    • Laura
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      LauraYoung
      I think that one important way to encourage curiosity and questions is to begin with open ended questions, and give students the opportunity to explore them before adding the research component. For example, when we talked about what makes snow white, students came up with answers like, "it comes from the moon." I think deeper observational and experimental questions come from repeated practice and modelling. It also comes from building background and content knowledge. I also think field trips and getting kids outside and out of the classroom is an important way to encourage curiosity!
    • Elisabeth
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      evhartman
      Many times just helping them relate to the topic is enough to get them inspired- we have found that having them -be- the animal we have questions about helps. For instance  if we are discussing an opossum we might tell them "you have a long, hairless tail, what might you use that for?' It seems to connect them with the animal & encourages more questions that we could then turn into an observational study depending on the questions posed.
      • Nini
        Participant
        Chirps: 32
        Ninich
        What a great idea to have the children 'be' the animal you are studying.  That brings the level of connection that much deeper.
    • Tamara
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      tamicrow
      Introduce new experiences to children by placing novel objects in the environment. Let them explore before they begin to record their experiences and observations. The teacher should be the observer and make notes as they explore. Give a generalized prompt after a bit, such as, notice something new. Have them categorize their wonderings into "How do I find out? " groupings.
      • Elisabeth
        Participant
        Chirps: 23
        evhartman
        We do something similar to this in that we will "plant" an object for them to find. Let me clarify, this is always an object native to that area, something they would be likely to come across on any given day-but nature doesn't always provide on demand when we need to discuss a certain topic-so we occassionally improvise.
    • Taylor
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      TSimon95
      One way I like to encourage curiousity in younger students is by using "centres" or "stations" with different objects that can be found outside. This way, they can touch, feel, and smell various natural objects and formulate their own questions about what they encountered without specific prompts from the teacher. For older students, I like to take them outside and ask them what they have questions about and see if there are anything that can be explored deeper or even lead to an experiment.
      • Amy
        Participant
        Chirps: 24
        alrichardson
        Taylor, I love your idea of using centers or learning stations to spark curiosity.  In our science unit Animal Parts and Survival we have different stations set out to help learn about an animals sight, hearing, coverings, feet, and teeth.  They love manipulating the materials and items at each station.  As I monitor and go around you can hear so much discussion and questions being asked.  I agree with you that having these objects and pictures in front of students helps them formulate questions on their own.  They are also in small groups doing this activity so they have the opportunity to share with their peers.  Sometimes experimental or observational questions can be hard for kids to think of so we can be there to help reframe the question if needed.  I'm so glad that you mentioned this idea!
    • Nancy
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      NRGregory
      I find a walk outdoors with the preface of " Let's see if we see anything new" as a good way to encourage curiosity. Deeper observations and questions can often be encouraged by asking the group to slow down and journal. If I can use some self-control, and not give all the answers to those reference questions, a deeper look at those observational and experimental questions can transpire. I do like to ask the group as a whole a brainstorming question and try to create a culture of listening and accepting. Sometimes young students, especially those I see that do not spend every day together as they would in a traditional setting, need to be reminded of the strengths we each have and taught the skills a scientist uses each day. Developing questions, that are testable, is a skill every young scientist can practice- especially outdoors!
      • Dianne
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        dhaley1
        Nancy, Thanks for sharing.  I like the idea of a walk to "Let's see if we see anything new"!  I have a unit on Living Things and that would fit nicely.  I also like the idea of slowing down to observe and then record their observations in a "Nature Journal".  Thanks again.
    • Liz
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      lsiepker
      I think the primary way to support youth curiosity and questioning is helping them see themselves as scientists to begin with. Many students have this idea in their minds about what a scientist is or what a scientist usually does. Unfortunately, that mental image is usually not of themselves although it certainly can be since we are all scientists in some regard with our innate ability to inquire and better understand the world around us. Students are always looking for the "right answer" so I always encourage them by saying there is always an answer, maybe you just haven't asked the right question(s)! They drives them crazy but they know that I am not going to give them the answer(s). It puts them in a position to brainstorm, think, collaborate, and communicate with their peers to dig deeper and keep exploring. And in some instances, students need to be comfortable with not knowing the answer or having an answer based on the best available data. That usually leads to a discussion about laws vs. theories vs. hypotheses, etc.
    • Holly
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      hrdevault
      I sometimes answer a question with another question to guide kids through the critical thinking process. Group brainstorming is a good way to get kids to think about all the possibilities. We will also be going outside often to practice seeing and hearing things in more detail.
      • Johanna
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        jdelwood
        I like your idea of answering a question with a question.  I have used this technique in class to generate discussion.
    • Carmen
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      maldoc96
      Team reflections. Promoting conversation about a topic in the classroom among the students themselves. While my role is to intervene to the minimum, just hovering around them to have them register their ideas and support them when they get stuck in the process.
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