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    • Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Bird_Academy
      As educators, how can we be catalysts for students to observe and wonder? Provide your thoughts in the comment section below.
      You must be enrolled in the course to reply to this topic.
    • Anna
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      akleinsorge
      I think the first thing I can do is voice my own noticings and wonderings.  Students need to hear this modeled to know what it might sound like and know it's ok, and beneficial to not always know the answers.  I love the lemon lesson idea, because it got at the heart of making very close observations, not general ones.  It's hard sometimes to get students to move past sweeping observations at first.  I also feel like taking students outside and having them write down observations is a good way to spark wonderings.  As they notice more and more it's likely that they wonder more and more about what they observe.  If they're having trouble making the jump to wonderings I can take their observations and voice some things it makes me wonder about.
    • Jane
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      Banjojanie
      Practicing and becoming an expert in automatically having the ability to ask open-ended questions is a trait all people who interact with children should possess. In my opinion, there is a crucial element to this goal that has been overlooked (at least in this point of the course). Asking the open-ended question is only half of the scenario in being catalysts for students to observe and wonder, the other half is to allow "wait time" or "think time." The power of silence, at least 10 seconds, when using wait time increases student thinking and the depth of their answers to questions. This link gives a helpful look at incorporating wait time in the classroom as a teacher shares his experiences and reflective thinking: Use Wait Time to Increase Student Thinking
      • Anna
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        akleinsorge
        Wait time is so powerful!!  It's such a little thing that makes such a big difference!  I hadn't thought about that in relation to that in this specific question, but you're right.  I remember when I was student teaching a teacher told me that wait time (along with multiple other things in teaching) is about learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.  Now it doesn't feel uncomfortable, but at the beginning it definitely did.
    • Beverly
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      bschieman
      I really liked the continuum presented in the video showing the difference between closed and open-ended questions.  As educators, I think we can model our own development of open-ended questions and then also show that we don't know the answer right away, and that is OK!  In fact, it's even desirable!  This is a mind-shift for students, who go through much of school thinking they have to already have the correct answer to a question when asked.  I also think that placing students in environments where there are events to observe and wonder is important, such as right outside the classroom, school or even their own window!
      • Anna
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        akleinsorge
        I liked the progression of questions they showed, as well!  I feel like in school kids are used to closed questions where there is one right answer.  Getting them used to having questions they don't know the answer to is a big step!
    • Michelle
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      MIFRANKO88
      My school is 1-to-1 with Mac books. When having discussions as a whole group, it is great to be able to have easy access for all students to the internet. If we're having a conversation and someone brings up a question, it is easy to give students 5 minutes to open their computers to do some research on the topic. Then we can continue our discussion with the newly learned information that the students found. In the beginning of the year, I like to do simple activities to help students reflect on their abilities to observe well. Sometimes students forget about all of the different ways that they can take observations. I think allowing students to observe and wonder about things they are interested in is important. I always work to build a classroom culture where students use their downtime to explore and wonder -- For example, I have tons a magazines in my classroom -- I always encourage students to grab a magazine and just look at the pictures... no need to read (unless they want to) instead of going on their phones or computers.
    • Pam
      Participant
      Chirps: 33
      Pam Hosimer
      I have always struggled to stick to a lesson rigidly - which is what is expected of me when I teach. I have always encouraged students to ask questions and fostered a sense of curiosity. One time I was talking about gardening and the topic of worms came up. Several students asked questions about worms. I did not have the answers but said I could look them up and get back to everyone with the answers. Then one student raised her hand and explained to the class all about worms and answered all our questions. It was a great experience as we all learned together! Of course I didn’t cover all the material I had planned for that day, but I felt we learned something more valuable.
    • David Lockett
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      DavidLockett
      Because of COVID-19, most teachers and students suddenly find themselves forced to integrate observation as they teach and learn. Inquiry-driven instructional design serves as catalysts for learning. Encourage your students to observe in new and different ways. Show how all stakeholders that students are engaged in their learning even when it seems like they are just observing and working independently. The possibilities of wonder are literally endless.
    • Jessica
      Participant
      Chirps: 27
      jmckenna
      As educators we can do our best to help cultivate a classroom culture where curiosity and questions are the norm. In this type of environment, children will be used to and feel comfortable asking questions and sharing their wonderings with the class. Sometimes I think teachers feel rushed and pressure to cover certain material so rather than asking open ended questions, they rush and ask questions with yes or no or other basic answers.   Until watching the video above, I never thought about how these questions can be intimidating for children. They may be afraid of getting the answer incorrect and may choose not to participate. Asking what do you think or opinion questions may be more inviting for students.   It is also important to teach students we don't always find the answers to their questions but can continue to investigate and learn more throughout the year.
    • Sylvia
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      Sylvia_Qualls
      If, as an educator, you yourself are always asking questions and wondering about things, it can help students to both learn and feel comfortable with that process and experience. Having a general wonder board and question box can also be a way to encourage questions and keep track of them, to follow up for projects, discussions, and investigations. It is also helpful to loop questioning throughout content areas so that students can see the relationship between questions and subject areas. Getting outside is also a great catalyst, 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".
    • ej
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      tejer!
      In general, modeling with your own enthusiasm and curiosity and not getting in the way of theirs. Ideally providing exposure and opportunities to observe, possibly pointing out some things of potential interest (anything from “Look at that!” to open-ended questions), asking guiding/exploratory questions, and providing time for reflection. Like a few others, I often work with groups in limited time spans and goal oriented programming which doesn't lend itself to these approaches, but you can sometimes still sneak a few things in - e.g. take advantage of downtime (walking to next location, breaks, etc by giving a "to think about" question or brainstorm with a partner/in small groups on unknown this-or-thats related to something we just saw. If meeting more than once, you can send them off with similar “homework” but possibly on a larger scale, such as: “Well, we sure saw a lot of crows this week! I wonder if they're being as active other places too? Maybe we can all keep our eyes & ears alert for crows this week and share what we saw/heard at the start of our next meeting” (or draw pictures of things, or take some data, or write a journal reflection, etc.
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 29
      Lingibbs63
      Many of my outdoor programs are recreation oriented - hiking, kayaking, bicycling, etc. I would like to more intentionally incorporate inquiry in these programs, as well as design natural and cultural history programs that more readily incorporate open-ended questions. Presently they are not, and I often end up being a type of tour guide relaying factual information rather than helping participants explore their own curiosity. I will be more conscious going forward to ask for 'I wonder' questions before we head out anywhere, and ask questions rather than offer answers as we move along.
    • laurie
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Vagabondgirl
      I teach very young students (JK/SK 3-6 years), all of whom are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing. Some of my students have very (VERY!) short attention spans due to a multitude of factors. Observation skills and their "attention for detail" are at an early stage of development. I notice that their attention span becomes significantly lengthened when the have an "Observation Tool".  I use a few tools and strategies to foster observation and wonder by linking observations to their senses. A Basket of Senses (I have a picnic basket full of sensory-stimulating tools to use in class and in the field) 1) Visual aids. My students will look longer and more carefully when they use tools to focus and magnify objects. The basket includes: binoculars, magnifying glasses, a loupe, a "bug" container, a pen light or flashlight, a fully charged iPad for children to take photos and videos, and their "field journals" for their illustrations. We may make a pair of toilet paper roll binoculars or a paper towel roll telescope at our Creation Station for outdoor observation. The power of imagination is strong and our toilet paper rolls work magic! 2) Hearing aids. Literally. We offer students the choice to wear hearing aids or cochlear implants for those who use them. We keep ziplock bags on us outside if students choose to remove their aids/implants. Loud environmental noise, blowing wind, rain or snow may make hearing aids/cochlear implants uncomfortable to use and/or cause the aid to malfunction. 3) Touch Tubes. Pringle cans with a toe-less knee sock glued to its opening. The can is wrapped with construction paper decorated with illustrations and adjectives that describe texture and temperature (sharp, wet, cold, fuzzy, hard, sticky, etc). Students take turns finding a special item, placing it in the can and their classmates feel the object, describe it and guess what it is. 4) Sniffy Cups. Collection of small film canisters, each with a cotton ball inside, that can be used to absorb scent and cushion a delicate item. Canister lids have small pin-prick holes to allow scents to be sniffed, described and identified. Lavender, mint, sage, chives, and other herbs from the Learning Garden are good examples of things that might be placed in our Sniffy Cups. 5) Blindfold Taste Test. A kerchief to use as a blindfold and a partitioned container to hold different foods (or different variety of the same food eg. apples). Students are blindfolded and take turns tasting items, describing and identifying foods. Students share their opinions on likes/dislikes and their "favourites". A hand-held, laminated (reusable) "My 5 Senses" pocketbook can be used with wet-erase markers for age-appropriate data-collection to help students record and recount their experiences to their teachers and/or their peers. Activating the senses and linking them with experiences, expands vocabulary and communication skills while also building background knowledge of their own senses and how their bodies work/interact with a wide variety of items.
      • Linda
        Participant
        Chirps: 29
        Lingibbs63
        Thank you so much for elaborating on the tools and concerns for students who experience the world differently! We are currently trying to make sure we are including all types of participants in our programs, so these are very helpful for me to learn about.
      • Jessica
        Participant
        Chirps: 27
        jmckenna
        Laurie, thank you for sharing what you do with your young students. I really like the idea of using the pringle cans and having other children put their hands in to feel or describe the texture of what is inside.
      • Pam
        Participant
        Chirps: 33
        Pam Hosimer
        Thanks for sharing those great ideas Laurie! I work at a school that is a magnet for mobility differences and this inspires me to think more broadly about being inclusive. Also, your ideas would work well for our school’s courtyard garden because we are considering putting stations around the garden and these activities could be incorporated into the stations.
    • S
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      Ladyhawk85
      The thing to do is to get students outside of their element, to give them something to explore outside or inside: an animal, a mechanical puzzle, a task or project. We need to set the stage for curiosity and wonder - something to inspire them to learn. My students who are looking to get the best grade flounder and fight with this - there's always the right answer to get the grade. If they relinquish this pressure or need, they actually have fun but it is a struggle.
    • Jennifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      jenna132
      Last year, our Science units were organized around an anchoring phenomenon, which took at natural phenomenon such as the Great Dust Bowl or a Mars Biosphere and asked students to complete a See Think Wonder Chart.  During the See portion of the lesson, students either watched a video, read an article, or look at a photograph in order to extend their understanding of the topic.  They first were asked to record what they saw (or use their power of observation), then they were asked to make inferences about what they saw in the think portion; finally, they were asked to write questions in the Wonder portion of the worksheet.  The idea was that students would refer back to their wonders throughout the unit to see if they were able to answer the wonders based on what we had learned during our labs, our learning, etc. The upside of this was that it really got students thinking more deeply about a topic.  There were, however, many downsides.  First, doing these charts and referring back to them throughout the unit was rather time consuming, so much so that as the year progressed, I found I couldn't complete all the required topics and eventually stopped using them.  Second, we really didn't go into any kind of instruction or discussion about what made a good question for science inquiry.  Third, since the units were already made (We used Mystery Science.), the students didn't really get to use their questions for scientific inquiry-the idea of wondering just felt like an activity tacked on to a unit just to say we had covered those parts of the NGSS.
    • Alaina
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      AlainaYoung
      As an informal educator, I tend to answer questions while running hikes and programs, or point out behaviors, ecology, and wildlife. I think that moving forward, I could encourage kids and adults alike to make their own observations and try to develop their own answers and inferences to their questions. I can point things out, but keep everything open-ended to allow for further discussion and inquiry.
      • Pam
        Participant
        Chirps: 33
        Pam Hosimer
        Alaina I agree with you. All this information and discussion is helping me to see that I need to be more aware of HOW I answer questions and foster discussion. Going forward I will be more sensitive to encouraging students to observe and find answers instead of me providing the answers or facts.
    • Sarah
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      CoachGoody17
      I love the quote that students come into classrooms as question marks but leave as periods... Which in my experience, with my rigorous curriculum, the pressure for students to get A's, and time restraints... this absolutely has so much open ended truth.  I know that I stress over time management, planning, and making sure that I "fit it all in" rather than focusing on the skills that we want them to have as scientists... I hope that my enthusiasm and love for science is enough to foster the same in them, and for some it does... but I can't help but wonder - "I wonder- how many more students I would "touch, inspire, motivate" to love science if I left the learning in their hands." I also believe that in order to facilitate and raise student awareness of the importance of the environment, it is time to make sure I am concentrating more on that "students as self" piece rather than worry about the restraints I place on myself as highlighted above.
      • S
        Participant
        Chirps: 15
        Ladyhawk85
        I agree with you. I am often fighting a time constraint and sometimes attitudes. I especially like your comment: "I wonder how many more students I would touch, inspire, and motivate to love science if I left learning in their hands" - more often than I do.
    • Deanna
      Participant
      Chirps: 22
      DeannaW
      I love taking students outside. In past years, it was easy -- students were excited to go out, sit on the ground in all temperatures to observe... In the past 3 years, it has become very hard -- the students do not necessarily want to go outside because of bugs, their shoes, their allergies (a dramatic increase), their homeroom teacher's attitude about science or outdoors... I have given much thought about what has changed and how I can change. I think setting up the activity with what them "wondering about" before going outside to observe or gather data may help overcome some of the hesitancy as they will want to see if they can find answers to their wonders or they will be able to revamp some of their wonders when they come back.
    • Laura
      Participant
      Chirps: 25
      Curious621
      This was really enlightening to me in terms of asking students open-ended questions.  When students come to me with a research topic, sometimes it is just something like basketball or algae- very general.  I could do better at asking them some open-ended questions and in turn, guide them to ask their own open-ended questions as possible research starting points. This will also work well with my lower level biology students when I first introduce the scientific method.  We could go outside (to promote social distancing) and incorporate both the I Wonder post-its and open-ended questioning to understand the purpose of observation and how it leads to questions to investigate.
    • Cara
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      carafern
      I think as educators the best way to be a catalyst for students to observe and wonder is by being open and excited about the topics we are teaching, and to encourage and listen to students' observations. I've noticed that when I get excited about a topic, or stop to point out something that a student noticed first, it helps inspire others to observe and wonder. I do think being more mindful on framing open ended questions will help in the future as well
    • Allison
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      allisonmurphy
      When I'm leading a program, it's hard not to point out something interesting that I see and tell the students all about it. Like with the pigeon example in the video, it would be more beneficial to point something out, ask a question, and have the students explore the interesting sight themselves through inquiry. I think it would also be exciting to explore something that I don't know much about. That way I can join in on the students' inquiry and exploration and help them learn about the process by facilitating their questioning and also demonstrating it myself. I occasionally lead programs for adults and I find that I can act more like a partner in those settings more than with kids. I think that if I "position youth as people who do science" I can build their confidence and we can work together as a team of scientists rather than a class and a teacher!
    • Jackie
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      JackieScott
      I know that I need to work on scaffolding my open ended questions. I have so many students who come from such a variety of backgrounds and experiences that I need to be more conscious of that. I can tell with the questioning I do in my class it has helped students become more confident in their skills. They start off needing the right answer al the time and then know that sometimes questions can create more questions which can lead to more experimentation. By the end of the year they love the conversations we have.
    • Julia
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      j.hardy
      I think that we can be catalysts for students to observe and wonder better by first of all learning ourselves to improve our ability to ask open-ended questions, not just by going outside to observe and wonder but in everything we do, so through modeling. Then with this, it would encourage students to ask more questions and not feel that they may be wrong in their answer, way of thinking, or that they have a "stupid" question, and would allow them to be more of a "free thinker", be more interested in all aspects of learning and how to find answers themselves. It would also be encouraging to them to see your personal "I Wonder boards/journals", and for older students give them light guidance over their own "I Wonder boards/journals". Make the first few introductions to "I Wonder boards/journals" fun or interesting for students to build their morale up about evening doing the boards/journals.
    • Mark
      Participant
      Chirps: 25
      maroberts64
      I love that Science is a subject so open to questions, observations, and discovery. When we have hatched eggs in an incubator in the past, I would try to get different colors and sizes of eggs to bring up questions. Adding a turkey egg also encourages discussion. Once a student found a robin egg on the ground, so we added it to the incubator and discussed many questions about that. I think modeling questions and discussions is the best catalyst for observations and wonder. It allows everyone to think about the topic and contribute their curiosity. The "I Wonder" board and journaling helps to keep the questions alive as topics to address as students learn and observe more. When students are encouraged to ask questions without worrying about "right" and "wrong" actions, they are allowed to do what comes naturally to them. Then we can discuss ways to figure out how to answer their curiosities.
    • Kristen Mae
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      kmaecarpenter
      My organization takes students out into the field. I have found that if the teachers are excited about going out into the field, the students feed off that excitement. On the other hand, I have sadly had teachers that have said "we're not outdoors people" and complained about being outside. This negative attitude was quickly reflected in the students as well. Even students that were initially enthusiastic and excited, changed course when they saw the reaction of their teacher. Having a curious, open-minded attitude encourages students to also have this same attitude.
      • Laura
        Participant
        Chirps: 25
        Curious621
        I have not taken my students outside much for various reasons but think this will be my year.  Good social distancing is enabled and I am feeling more confident in my abilities to use different apps and instructional techniques to maintain focus AND fun.
    • Edna
      Participant
      Chirps: 26
      wvteacher87
      As an educator, I can be a catalyst for my students by providing them opportunities.  I love field trips.  Our field trip to the wetlands always encourages students to be in an investigative mode.  Students record what they see and hear (sketching, words, ...).  I like the idea of post-it notes to record "I Wonder" questions.  The use of the Seek app will be motivational.  Each child has an iPad, but team work seems to produce more results.  With safety as an issue at this point, just simply using our playground (trees, flowers, and other plants) will provide a place for observation and I will provide time for Wonder questions.  Also, I like the resources available on the Internet.  Our WVU Extension office has partnered up with Energy Express and is posting daily half hour recordings for students.  Yesterday, 7/14 the topic was bird banding.  I learned a lot about this process while at home.  Success will be utilizing the outdoors for observations and wonderings, but if I am limited on location I will use the Internet and books to enrich my lessons.
    • Alana
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      C.cyaneus
      We need to be non-judgmental and opening to all observations. We need to encourage that not knowing the answer is a good thing. One of my favourite things to say is "I don't know", why don't we try to figure that out together! We need to help students to think in terms of theories and hypothesis vs only right and wrong. We need to expose them to the wonders of nature (as cheesy as that sounds! ;-)).
      • Edna
        Participant
        Chirps: 26
        wvteacher87
        I completely agree with you in let's try to figure out the answer together.  Students then see the teacher as a resource versus the person who "knows it all."   Nature is has many unknowns for children.  As an elementary teacher, it amazes me how little students independently seek nonfiction books about plants, birds, and other things that surround us in our daily lives.  Yes, we give students opportunities to discover their surroundings.
    • Phanh
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      phanhnguyen
      T0 be catalysts for students to observe and wonder, we can:
      • Take them outside, where there are a lot of things to observe and ask questions about
      • Create a safe environment for asking questions
      • Model by being curious and asking questions ourselves, being a co-learner, willing to say "I don't know"....
      • Guide students to help them be familiar with asking open-ended questions, in order to further the discussion and inquiry process.
    • Nini
      Participant
      Chirps: 32
      Ninich
      I think Jennifer said it so well, that by asking questions that empower a person to make observations that contribute to a theory without making the person feel stupid for not knowing a particular answer. This has changed the way I walk in the woods or other natural setting with kids.  I realized that when I named a particular animal or plant, it sort of stopped the learning process that could happen if time were allowed to make observations and share them. One of the most important things to learn when first encountering  something new  is simply to observe it and its relationship with other things with the fresh mind of a beginner. The mindset of wondering allows for creative thoughts about what you see and can open up thoughts in ways that naming it as either  'right or wrong'  can shut down the process of curiosity.   In my own learning, I am often timid in offering answers because I am afraid of being wrong, but leading a conversation with 'I wonder' statements allows for ideas that may be proven wrong upon further investigation, to flow and be shared and stretched to grow further learning.
      • Mark
        Participant
        Chirps: 25
        maroberts64
        I like your observation that it is hard for us as adults to not share our knowledge right away! Holding back allows students to make observations and try to figure things out, while we provide tools along the way. I am guilty and will work to improve on this task!
    • Robin
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      Salthouser
      I believe, especially after reading several other posts, is that being an enthusiastic model is important to have students observe and wonder. Due to students current experiences; living in an urban/suburban area, tight schedules with after school activities  or spending a lot of time in front of screens, it may be something that has to be developed over time. Children don't have the opportunities to explore in nature like many of us did growing up.
    • Kathy Nerdy Birdies
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      kbalman
      I think getting them excited about learning and peaking their curiosity is step one. Let them explore their passions and interests and make the learning applicable to their lives and place. After that making sure they know their opinions and thoughts are important and valued and that no question or thought is a dumb one. I think students are often worried that they won't say the right thing or get the right answer. But in inquiry based learning there may not be a cut and dry answer and their investigation is what will lead them to the answer. Lastly modeling for the students. If they see that the teacher is excited and that being curious is a life-long skill they too will be excited. It is also ok for the teacher to say they don't have or know the answer. This shows students that even adults don't know everything and often have to do inquiry as well, to find the answer.
    • Sara
      Participant
      Chirps: 30
      SaraPi
      I agree that learners must feel comfortable and safe in the classroom setting in order to be vunerable and learn that 'I don't know' is a perfectly acceptable answer. Modeling this behavior by also showing that there are many discoveries for us (educators) to explore can help students understand learning is a life-long process. Encouraging observation and acknowledging the contributions of all learners, through the 'I Wonder' board, is a great way to practice this in the "classroom". Repetition seems key too - learners have to see this process over and over to really develop a critically thinking mind. As an educator, I must learn to provide great follow up questions to help students expand upon their initial observations, guiding the curiosity into the process of open-inquiry.
      • Nini
        Participant
        Chirps: 32
        Ninich
        I think your point about repeating the process to further hone the inquiry process is really important and I like that you are challenging yourself to provide great follow up questions and guide their curiosity.
    • Smriti
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      Smriti Safaya
      What students have taught me over the years:
      • the energy that teachers bring into the room is a powerful source to draw from, especially when they are tired or not intrinsically interested in what the topic/activity/question that day is.
      • the way teachers welcome or respond to a particular observation, question or contribution will determine the emotional reaction and teach students what is acceptable or not; and students pick up on response patterns that build open or closed class atmospheres
      • taking some ordinary and making it extraordinary is a profound way to open minds (e.g. beach sand is partly made up of fish poop from underwater rocks they nibbled on earlier!! - this is a great one to reveal after spending some time doing a beach clean-up, or using sand for constructing shapes, during a coastal fieldtrip, etc., which prompts LOTS of great questions.  And having a giggle is always a good thing too!)
      • recognize that observations and questioning can happen anywhere: yes, taking students outdoors is always great, but if you can't take them out, use the campus, the classroom, the playground - doing I WONDER or I NOTICE or "WHAT, WHERE, WHY THERE, WHY CARE?" activities can be universally applied.
      • Robin
        Participant
        Chirps: 12
        Salthouser
        These are great tips for both formal and informal educators. So many of us were educated in an era when making mistakes, and having the wrong answer was seen as failure. Using your tips, and making sure participants understand that failure, and learning from those experiences is probably more important than getting an answer right away.
    • Kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 41
      Acorn Woodpecker
      How can educators be catalysts for students to observe and wonder? Educators are tasked to introduce students to knowledge and expand their horizons?  This is a tremendous responsibility that can further society and community depending on the approach. As discussed initially in this class,  the learning environment needs to be  welcoming, safe and comfortable for kids to learn.   A place where they can make mistakes and grow from these experiences. When kids feel safe to learn and explore, then there are numerous opportunities to encourage students to observe and wonder.  One of the best places to observe and wonder is the GREAT outdoors.  The possibilities to observe natural phenomena are endless. No matter where you live there is always something to see and learn outdoors.  The outdoor classroom is a gateway for exploration.   It is a perfect place for educators  to spark learning and get students excited about it.   It is not easy to learn in the outdoors.  Educators need to plan and utilize the practices and frameworks offered thus far in the class.  Using the I wonder board will help keep safe some of the questions that the students want to know.  In addition, asking open ended questions is an important consideration.  For me, this will take practice to develop this habit.  Teachers also need to act excited to be excited - curiosity and excitement are contagious.  By teachers modeling the learning behaviors that they want students to emulate, this will begin a new classroom culture. Also, it is important to engage partners like parents and local organizations that can provide expertise or even equipment.
    • Kinta High School
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      KintaZoology
      Sometimes "I don't know" may be the best teacher answer.  Then follow up with, "I wonder if we can figure out how best to find the answer".
    • Amy
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      amyeroche1
      I agree that taking kids out to experience nature first-hand is a fantastic way to support wondering and questioning. This reminds me very much of some of the professional development I've done around working with primary sources and also VTS (visual thinking strategies).  I admit that I do struggle with this in science, however.  Since there is pressure to "cover material" and get through several science and social studies units in a year, I think I sometimes don't allow enough time for this kind of open-ended questioning in science.  Also, I sometimes struggle with the I Wonder board.  It usually fills up pretty quickly and then can become unruly.  Some of the questions we come back to or do lead to student investigations, but a lot of times they just stay up there indefinitely.  Do people change out their I Wonder boards with each unit?  How do you keep them fresh and meaningful for students?
    • Veronica
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      vhorton
      I agree that taking children outdoors is probably one of the best ways to get students motivated and encourage them to observe and wonder. I also think teachers and adults in general can provide other opportunities for children to explore and mess about with things.  We must in some settings let children know that they can just explore. Inviting exploration and play in unstructured situations can lead to inquiry. Setting out various natural objects and materials can start children to wondering what has been done and what else can be done with those objects and materials. Just setting out pine cones and other tree seeds can lead to inquiry and investigations about trees. In addition questions to extend learning can be interjected as children explore. The open ended questions are most useful because they lead children to understand that we don't always need a hard and fast answer and often questions are there to help us look at things in new ways therefore stretching our thinking towards other possibilities.
    • Kandis
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      Kandis+1
      One of the after-school programs that I offer is for 5 and 6 grade students.  The program is broken up into 4 in-school sessions and 1 day in the field.  The 4 sessions are teaching youth how to use a plant identification book, looking at animal skins, scats and prints, identifying parts of a flower by dissecting it and identifying trees during different times of the year.   The field day is spent at a local nature preserve called the Dwass Kill and Usher’s Road State Forest, we invite local scientists to help students along the way and talk about their research.  Students can observe the hemlock forests and how that is different to the Deciduous Forest, find signs of animals being present in the forest, find new plants to identify and much more.  Students start a notebook in school that they carry with them, along with a pencil and hand lens on the field trip. I would agree that getting the youth outside is where the real questions begin to form and concepts that they have learned in school start to make more sense.  Kids work together to identify what they are seeing and hearing, they begin asking real scientist thoughtful questions about their findings.  They make drawings, take leaf imprints, and write questions down to look into when they return to school. I wonder what this program would look like reversed, the field trip first and then giving youth 4 weeks to do research on what they found interesting and had more questions about.
      • Alana
        Participant
        Chirps: 18
        C.cyaneus
        This sounds like a wonderful program!
    • Annette
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      AnnetteSteele
      I believe there needs to be a culture within the classroom where students are able to ask questions about things they are curious about.  Often, students look towards the teacher as the individual who knows all the answers and is going to divulge all the information they are ever going to need. This style of teaching does not encourage students to think that their own questions are worthy or even valid.  When teachers ask open ended questions, value student ideas and have those ideas help to drive lessons it can make a huge impact on the learning of students. It helps them believe that their ideas are valid and worth investigating. providing time for observations, integrating the I wonder boards can help teacher become facilitators and partners in learning, rather than the professor that knows it all.
      • Mark
        Participant
        Chirps: 25
        maroberts64
        I agree with your idea of creating a class culture where questioning guides instruction. Students learn that their voice is an important part of the learning process, and they learn to develop those observation and investigation skills through practice. :)
    • Dianne
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      dhaley1
      I believe the first step for educators to be catalysts for students is to get them out of their seats, observing and wondering.  We must constantly be thinking of innovative ways to to spark our students 'Inquiry'.  We need to provide a focused platform by providing open-ended questions for them to ponder and wonder, and then an area to explore. Students through exploration will develop their own questions and 'I Wonder' moments.  Sometimes I feel we are so driven by curriculum and time that we do not take time (or have time) for students to just explore.  Our students are the scientists of tomorrow and they need time and a place to explore.
    • Antoinette
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      ahatzop
      I have found that the more time the students spend outside, the more they naturally learn to observe and wonder.  They spot birds' nests camouflaged, follow sounds to discover a woodpecker making a home in a tree, wonder why a hawk is flying around, why a flock of birds fly on the ground and then into a tree and do it again, why birds flock to our grounds after a rainy day, and which plants attract butterflies and bees in our own garden of native plants.  These are all great experiences to ask the important open-ended questions to encourage thinking and learning.
      • Dianne
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        dhaley1
        Antoinette, I wholeheartedly agree!  Our students need more time outside to explore, observe and wonder.  They need to be more driven by their own 'Inquiry' and less driven by curriculum.  Thanks for sharing.
    • Michelle
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      michelle_quezada
      As educators we can provide the space and the time for students to make observations and share their questions. If we provide positive feedback and model how we make observations and freely share our questions we encourage our students to do the same. In my experience, recognizing a student's questions as a positive can help encourage them to continue and possibly create their own investigation to help them answer their question. Sharing observations and questions with peers can also encourage students to join in.
    • Vanessa
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      CPAWS-Education
      We can expose them to a variety of circumstances and topics which would be foreign to them. Or perhaps prompt them with inquiry learning to look at familiar situations differently. We can help them by practicing observation and I wonder questions (in a nature journal, on a board or in a sharing circle).
    • Amy
      Participant
      Chirps: 24
      alrichardson
      I believe that we can be catalysts for our students by modeling.  Sometimes students don't understand how to ask a question.  As educators we want them to feel confident in what they ask.  The observations and thoughts that they wonder about are important to them.  It's essential that we accept the ideas and questions that they present.  I think the "I Wonder" board is such a powerful way to show that all questions are valued.  When teaching students about the "I Wonder" board it's important in the beginning to model the difference between open-ended questions and closed questions.  The open-ended questions will lead in turn lead to a richer discussion and will make it easier for children to conduct investigations and research about the topic being studied.  In order for questions to occur we need to provide our students with experiences that allow them to observe and wonder about the world around them.  Outdoor activities, nature walks, and watching video clips about a particular topic are things that educators can do to with their students.  The more time and opportunities students are allowed to ask questions, the more experience they will have with asking open-ended questions.
      • Dianne
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        dhaley1
        Amy, Thanks for sharing; you have a very interesting point in that we are catalyst by modeling!  You are so right!  It is our responsibility as teachers to model and encourage the 'Inquiry' of wonder, explore and observe. Thanks.
      • Kathleen
        Participant
        Chirps: 41
        Acorn Woodpecker
        Amy- agreed.  Great input.
    • Johanna
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      jdelwood
      It is important for teachers to establish and nurture a class environment in which all students know that they are valued participants.  This is crucial for students to feel comfortable in sharing their thoughts and questions during activities.  As a teacher, I have always been aware of the questions that I ask when I am trying to generate discussion and bring about deeper thought on the part of my students.  There are occasions where I slip back into the simple, closed-ended questions.  I recognize that these questions are not generating the thought processes in my students that I am trying to achieve.  Sometimes, it helps to think in advance about some of the questions to ask to generate discussion.  Teachers might also write key phrases in advance to help word open-ended questions so that in a moment of quick discovery or an unexpected event, we do not reduce the event to a closed-ended question.
      • Michelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 17
        michelle_quezada
        I also have to think about questions in advance so I don't fall into the trap of closed ended questions. I find that throughout the year I also find students using open ended questions during discussions.
    • Laura
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      LauraYoung
      I think one important way we can be catalysts for students to observe and wonder is by giving them good opportunities -- for example, both the bird video we watched and pictures in the presentation were all really interesting. We can also both model asking and encourage asking open-ended questions. We can also make these  opportunities a regular part of the classroom, such as with the ?I wonder" board, so that students can develop these skills.
    • Elisabeth
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      evhartman
      One way we can be catalysts for students to observe and wonder, I think, is by making learning a "we" process. Like I mentioned in an earlier reply, the idea of being a co-learner fosters children's confidence, their willingness to participate. Open-ended questions go hand in hand with acting as a co-learner, and providing space for interpretation, not just simple yes or no answers that can create boredom or children not participating for fear of not having the -right- answer.
    • Taylor
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      TSimon95
      I think that taking students outside and letting them ask questions without the "closed questions" mentioned in the video is a great start, as it gets students generating their questions without prompts. I also think that the "I Wonder" board or a variation of it is also a great way to get students to observe and wonder in their local environment.
    • Nancy
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      NRGregory
      Throughout the school year I try to take my informal educ. groups outside to observe or discover class topics. One way to enhance that process would be for me to slow down and make a habit of asking more open-ended questions. I like the tip from the video of pointing out the bird drinking with a question rather than the statement "Look at that bird drinking water." Sometimes I feel like I am helping their discovery by pointing out cool nature, I can see how I may be shutting down higher level/independent thinking. Children have an innate sense of wonder and curiosity, I just need to step aside a bit to let that shine.
      • Sara
        Participant
        Chirps: 30
        SaraPi
        Nancy I totally relate with your comment! The time management loop with large groups certainly inhibits how much time is spent on observation - at least with the structure of our largest programs (school groups). As a guide I want to show them how cool nature is and I tend to point out animals in the beginning of the program and allow the group/student to take over this role near the end of the experience. I've started purposely avoiding telling all the answers and flipping that to provide prompts that lead to their discovery. For example, I ran into guests that were exploring our trails and they asked the most common question on campus - "what can I see here?" A lot of our wildlife are small and secretive in our mangrove forest so visitors have to slow down, learn to blend in, and hone their observation skills. When asked this question I responded by hinting at what they might see, look for something on the tree branches, with claws, etc. I think this course will certainly help me develop a habitat of more open ended inquiry, and I'm so thankful for the experience to learn from fellow classmates like you!
    • Carlos Eduardo
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      jumabita
      Carry out activities outside the classroom to motivate the students to ask questions based on what they observed, no matter the type of question, the idea is that the questions asked can be answered later in the classroom and those that by time or some other aspect that cannot be answered is left as a consultation of themselves to resolve their concerns and thus motivate them to continue learning while observing.
      • Elisabeth
        Participant
        Chirps: 23
        evhartman
        With outside activities, I agree there is carryover for sure, questions outside can lead to more questions inside, particularly as time goes on. It can also be a source of inspiration later, when outside time isn't feasible or possible. Like "remember when...." scenarios.
    • Liz
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      lsiepker
      In my classroom, I always model the behaviors I would like for my students to do. This is as simple as pushing in my chair when I get up to asking good questions (the What? the Why? the How?) on a daily basis. Students need structure and routine so by modeling behaviors that scientists engage in on a daily basis, students can begin to see these behaviors in action and hopefully begin to do them themselves. I also think that we can give students activities that are more guided and open inquiry. Designing activities in this manner will help students to build up their confidence in making observations and coming up with questions for an "I wonder" board.  One final thought here, I see the value in open inquiry activities but you must build students up to be able to perform open inquiry investigations so they don't get frustrated and give up.
      • Amy
        Participant
        Chirps: 24
        alrichardson
        Liz, I completely agree with the last statement you made in your discussion post.  Open-ended questions have great value but those young children will need the modeling and guidance from their teachers to avoid frustration.  A child's confidence can go down very quickly when they don't feel they are doing something right or don't understand what is being asked of them.  You also mentioned that we teach routines continually in class so why not connect that to science!  I agree when children understand the structure and routine that scientists engage in they will be more likely to follow that same procedure.  Great thoughts!
      • Sara
        Participant
        Chirps: 30
        SaraPi

        @Amy This is a great reminder for us all to remain curious! When educators participate in the learning process students begin to understand that we're all learners, learning and discovery are FUN, and it's completely normal to not have all the answers! Totally agree that we have to model that behavior and enthusiasm for inquriy so students see the process repeatedly.

    • Holly
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      hrdevault
      It needs to be a priority to take them outside often, so they have the opportunity to make these observations. Encourage talking and asking questions by asking open ended questions. Give each student post-it-notes to write their own questions to add to the I Wonder board. Treat each of their questions as relevant and part of the learning process.
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