Viewing 27 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.
    • Kimberly
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      kmichellehowell
      I encourage my students to research things they want to learn about through a project called Genius Hour. I can see taking it further and having students either tie their Genius Hour project to what they are learning in science and designing  their own investigation or investigating something they are curious about outside the school setting.
    • Ashley
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      ABloch01
      I try to find things that I think my students will find interesting.  It might not be something I find interesting, but if it captures the students' interest and relates to the concept I am trying to teach, the I will use that.  I I try to create an open classroom, where all feel comfortable in speaking with each other and we don't put others down.  This year, I plan to have students participate in gallery walks, where students will (respectfully) critique each other's work.  I am hoping that improves the collegiality of the classroom and teaches students that they are allowed to improve upon assignments and what they have produced already.
    • David
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      lumpydave84
      I have to admit I struggle with this discussion point... I spent most of my years in Chemistry with a high stakes test at the end of the year and that does not allow for a lot of time and creativity and teaching practices on my part.  Now in Environmental Science I need to do a lot more... reading everyone's input and moving through the course has inspired me.  Later in the course seeing the experiments and rubrics section really got me thinking what our students are capable of.  This discussion seems appropriate for the end of the year.  I aspire to do more work for my students having them grow their curiosity mainly using plants.  We now have a greenhouse and I have to get them in there and start dreaming.
    • Russell
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      rfriedman1212
      The best strategy I use to encourage curiosity is simply taking my learners outdoors into a natural setting. This immediately begins to inspire their curiosity as the natural space is constantly changing; there's always something new to be discovered. Allowing free, unstructured exploration time allows my students to spark their own curiosities and develop their own questions about the world around them. Much of the questions they pose can be quite simple and broad but a successful way to get them to think deeper is to pose more "in-depth" questions to them about what they are seeing. I find ways to make these simple observations connect to larger issues we may be experiencing regionally or globally.  I challenge them to make predictions solely on what they are observing and then push them to conduct further research and experiments.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      mgerhardt
      Allow time to wonder and observe is important. I liked the steps Jenny used for their projects, the peer feedback would be helpful for deeper observation and questions.
    • Lori
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      MPBirding
      One strategy that I use to promote deeper observational and experimental questions is to take my students outside. When students begin to look around they naturally have questions, especially if we go to an area of campus they haven't been to before. We have a garden club in our middle school and when we return to campus in the fall it typically looks wild and has very large plants and some vegetables still growing from the summer. It is really interesting to hear the students ask questions about this space and begin to question why it looks the way it does and what happens in this area. During our conversations other questions are asked and most go beyond reference questions. I hope to do more of this throughout the year and take advantage of the amazing outdoor space and trails that I have available to me.
      • Russell
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        rfriedman1212
        Bringing students outdoors I feel is the best way to get them to question the world around them. They can read about climate change and challenges that are faced on the other side of the world, but when you can bring learners outside and teach them about the changes we see right in our own back yard, well, that is an immediate connection they make that sometimes inspires them to want to make a difference.
    • Pam
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      pkevans
      These are areas that I usually struggle with getting the students to understand. I really like how it is laid out in this curriculum. I have completed I Wonder boards...or started them rather. Usually curriculum has the kids ask questions, but everything is already laid out so their questions are sometime mute points. I will use these lessons to see if we can dig deeper without me telling them what to look for. Many of my students are so used to being told what to do, they have a hard time coming up with creative ideas.
    • Elandriel
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      elandriellewis
      In our program we encourage lots of open-ended, hands-on experiences/explorations and the use of open-ended/higher-order questions.  We're a big fan of loose parts, providing random common objects (rocks, sticks, bottle caps, etc.) to allow the children to make their own narratives rather than just participating in proscribed activities.  I also encourage my teachers to turn questions back on the students by asking them "what do you think?" rather than just always giving them the answer.  I try to encourage them to focus on the process of exploration and curiosity than the finished product.
      • Kimberly
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        kmichellehowell
        Elandriel, I think that's a great way to get kids to think deeper by asking them why. I'll keep that in mind. Thanks!
    • Jenny
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      jambud
      In our second year program (grade 11/12) we have students come into the program with three project ideas. They just need to say why they think it is important, what the question is, and very roughly what they would do. Once the program starts we have students pick two ideas to focus on. Often they come up with new ones! They then pitch them to their peers. The peers ask questions and focus on discussing if it is interesting and feasible (resources, time commitment, skills needed). The students then complete a project proposal and get feedback from instructors. They do one more round of editing before completing the proposal for final submission. At that point, we are generally only concerned with safety and ethics. If there is a project that is not super well designed we believe in providing feedback but if the students really want to go ahead with it and there are no safety or ethics concerns then we let them. There are a lot of a-ha moments along the way and that is totally ok! The results are not what we focus on. It is being able to carry out the scientific method. In general, the practices we use are a lot of talking about our projects. By talking about your own plans and answering questions you better understand what you need to figure out before you start. Listening to other students' plans also helps students be more reflective about their own projects. We strongly encourage students to talk to us about their projects at any time. I love the idea of using the stories of scientists to help students see examples of curiosity. We started a book club this summer to test out reading about scientists with our teens. Next year, I hope to assign biographies of scientists for our students entering our second-year program to read, so that we can begin the year with a discussion of what curiosity and questioning looked like in the biographies.
      • Pam
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        pkevans
        I really like how this is all laid out. Students do learn a lot from talking about what they are going to do. Your focus is really the process, not the results. Good practice!
    • Amy
      Participant
      Chirps: 26
      AmySenn
      Encouraging curiosity and questions gets supported when students have something that they can have in their hands.  I find many of my students are very tactile in their approach to the world - having a hand lens helps focus their vision, having a sample that has an odor contained in a box, concentrates the smell; having something physical that they can touch or make a sound with helps give them more information that they can observe and wonder about. Inspiring deeper observational and experimental questions will be something I want to work on this year.  As I work to keep questions more open ended, and then follow up with "how could we find out" I am hoping that we will be able to move the thinking (mine & theirs) in a deeper direction!
      • Ashley
        Participant
        Chirps: 23
        ABloch01
        I totally agree - I really think that when students have instruments to work with, they feel like they are really doing science!
    • Sue
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      SueWatts
      I love the idea of open-ended questions. I have always liked to know the names of things and gain comfort and a sense of accomplishment from knowing. However, at a naturalist class that I took once, the teacher said that often when a thing is named the learning stops.  This so resonated with me There are so many possible open-ended questions that lead to deeper and deeper connections and other questions and so on. I have become interested in moths lately as I have begun to take more and more close-up pictures. I find moths beautiful and wondered why butterflies got more coverage than moths, especially since I found out moths out-number butterflies 15 to 1. This leads to all sorts of questions about diet, habitat, etc. etc. and ultimately human's perceptions of moths as pests vs. butterflies. If I had stopped with just identifying the moths I had discovered I would have denied myself an insight into the connections between the human and natural world (it's all politics) and learning more about moth's place in the ecology of the world. With our Junior Naturalists we try hard not to focus only on identification - although knowing the names of things creates familiarity and confidence. We always strive to move beyond to ask other deeper questions and to make connections.
      • Elandriel
        Participant
        Chirps: 21
        elandriellewis
        I love that concept of "when a thing is named the learning stops."  thanks for sharing!
      • Pam
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        pkevans
        That is an interesting perspective that I had not thought of!
    • Darlene
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      DarleneKehn
      I like the students to design KWL charts in their lab journals when introducing a new topic or watching a video.  Then, we have a discussion about their "I wonder" columns as a way to guide our plan for learning about the topic.  My students also present science news article presentations and the audience designs questions which provides the opportunity for discussion about science in general, science as an occupation, and inquiry.  During lab, I also encourage students to extend beyond what we are doing by asking questions and designing side experiments as a way to guide their own learning through curiosity.
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      binouser
      I promote curiosity by modeling asking questions and researching to find answers..  I share my thoughts about things we observe.  I encourage students to share their ideas and thoughts as well.   Open ended questions are also helpful to help promote curiosity.   I am looking forward to having an "I Wonder"  Board to help promote more questions and curiosity.  Students are more receptive to asking questions when they know it is okay and perfectly acceptable to not know everything about the questions.   Mistakes happen in my classroom and are encouraged as they are part of the learning process.
      • Darlene
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        DarleneKehn
        I also try to model mistakes and that it is okay and how we learn!
      • Amy
        Participant
        Chirps: 26
        AmySenn

        @Darlene I think that mistakes are amazing opportunities....I always try to model a relaxed attitude to my own mistakes to help students value the risk that they take with they try.

    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      Sci8Lilly
      I have used a variety of tools over the years to encourage curiosity and questions.  These include a designated journal, spiral notebook, individual sheets of paper to create a portfolio, composition notebook, Google Docs, and Google Science Journal app.  Students are more receptive to activities when they know that there aren't any right or wrong answers.  When they have the opportunity for discussion and brainstorming, it stimulates their creativity and generation of ideas.  Most of the time they are very effective and useful, but time constraints in the classroom is a huge limiting factor.  I agree with the comments of others that sometimes it is difficult to delve deeply into topics and allow extensions due to the teaching of required content.
    • Catia
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      catiawolff
      I encourage curiosity and questions by showing students video clips of various phenomenon.  I ask them what they want to know more about to facilitate discussions of new topics.  When students have shared their work with their classmates, the students that are listening to presentations are expected to complete a report that address the topic, three new things they learned and finally something they would want to research as a result of learning about their classmates' report.
    • Jon Javier
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      jagjavier
      Up to the period when lockdown and restrictions were put in place (March 2020) nature walks that I have organized for our students just involves either bird or tree identification accompanied with Did you know ... information about the species identified or observed. There is no post-activity processing done. I could only imagine the interesting outcomes of doing the activities like 'sound map' and 'I wonder ...' or 'I notice ...' to inspire deeper observational and experimental questions. I recall encountering a puzzle inside a vegetated area in our campus wherein I noticed that a cluster of flower litter (Pterospermum celebicum) were under a different tree that is about 20 meters away from the actual tree that produces the flowers. IMG_4890 Most of the flower litter have a sepal torn off and have punctured marks at the base. IMG_4892 I am longing for our return to the face-to-face mode of class and use the learned strategies from this virtual retreat. Alas, the next academic year (which will start on September) will still be done in remote learning mode.
      • Pam
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        pkevans
        I am sorry to hear that you will still be remote in the fall. We were in person last year and will continue to be this year. It makes it much harder.
    • Martha
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      Martha gardenbird
      Strategies and tools: Discrepant events are fun for students. You show and describe for them a lab set up and ask them to predict what will happen and they have all sorts of ideas. Then you show them the demo (or have them do it) and none of the predictions are correct. So we talk about being willing to change your mind and how that is a great character trait of a scientist. I also think discussing graphs from research especially if it involves teenage behavior can be fun (teen dating is down in the 21st century compared to when I was in school). Anything local and or otherwise personal is also interesting to the high school kids. Sometimes, I have students who find cool stuff for us to discuss and this isn't always my A students. My struggling students sometimes find the best new stuff for us to ask questions about. Trying to find a way for everyone to find some success is pretty important to building a culture of learning in the classroom. When it comes to designing an experiment, some students struggle with going deeper (especially, I imagine, after 18 months of pandemic learning). We do a lot of education espionage in my room--students work in groups but I encourage them to listen to each other (during class work time and during discussion) and borrow ideas. We compare inquiry questions before we plan the rest of the experiment so if kids are shallow question askers, they get to see the deeper (better) questions before proceeding on. It can help them change their minds (but not always)! I also think kids get better at this as the year progresses--I expect better questions/inquiry labs by the end of the year. The progress in learning is really what matters to me.
      • Catia
        Participant
        Chirps: 15
        catiawolff
        I think you involving students in formulating predictions on demo labs is a great way to keep students engaged so they can see if their ideas are on track with actual results.  Students like coming up with ideas on changing experiments so this can be a good activity for the student who is stuck coming up with their own plan from scratch.  I guess it is kind of like using a sentence starter as a tool for getting the student moving towards practicing and learning a new skill.
    • Bridget
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      BridgetL
      I don't teach a science class, but I like to incorporate this type of thinking into the subjects I do teach.  It is important for students to become deeper thinkers in all subject areas.  I try to inspire questioning and curiosity be asking open-ended questions and by turning questions back on the student.  Many are so eager for the 'correct response' that they are nervous about providing thoughts that they believe may not be correct.  Like others have mentioned in their posts, it is important to create and continue to foster an environment where curiosity, questioning, and unsuccessful attempts are celebrated.  When students are only given fill-in-the-blank or memorization type of assignments/assessments, it is very easy for them to shy away from thinking of things in a new or different way.
      • Martha
        Participant
        Chirps: 23
        Martha gardenbird
        Even my high school students struggle with wanting the correct response. It drives them nuts when I ask them each the same question and respond only with "That's interesting" or "That's brave. You gave a different answer compared to everyone else." In the long run, they appreciate knowing that with a lot of our work, grades depend not on what your choice of answer is, but how you argue it. I anticipate a lot of super nervous learners this year as they haven't been in class for so long.
      • David
        Participant
        Chirps: 18
        lumpydave84

        @Martha Haha that would drive me nuts too.  I think sometimes I am so caught up in keeping class moving I don't take time for multiple responses as much as I should.

      • Elandriel
        Participant
        Chirps: 21
        elandriellewis
        I love turning questions back on kids by asking "what do you think?"  they do often have an answer but are uncertain and afraid of being wrong.
    • Laura
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Laura Schofield
      Starting each science class with a video, audio clip or photo and having students answer the questions, "I notice, and "I wonder," helps students practice their skills of observation and curiosity. One of my classroom "rules" is to "Be curious." I also explicitly talk to students about critical comments that can "shut down" someone's curiosity.  That we want to question one another in a way that keeps us in the conversation. Some questions I use when responding to student observations are, "What makes you think that?" "What does it remind you of?" "What else are you noticing?"
      • Linda
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        Sci8Lilly
        I like the idea of using a photo, video, or audio clip to generate curiosity.  I have used photos and asked students to ask questions about what happened or what is going to happen.
      • Pam
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        pkevans
        I like this idea as a class opener!
    • Shelley
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      Shelley_Metcalf
      In our homeschool, I try to be as open as possible to answering questions when they arise and being willing to take us down a "rabbit trail" to find answers and explore topics in more depth when there is curiosity about something. We use journals to ask and answer questions (mostly for literature at this point) but as I mentioned before, I would like to use journals/science notebooks this year for science.  I also want to set up an I Wonder board, and I really like the idea of adding a Sit Spot to our nature study (as Austin mentioned.)  I need to practice asking more open-ended questions and continue to convey the idea of risk-taking in learning being rewarded and not penalized (as Stephanie mentioned.)
      • Laura
        Participant
        Chirps: 21
        Laura Schofield
        I also think the idea of "risk taking," is so important in science.  Coaching students to stay open to what their brain's notice and are curious about takes courage.
    • Rachel
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      restendahl
      I use open-ended questions with my students and try to encourage discussion and make connections to issues that the students care about. If they know the issue relates to them personally, they are more likely to engage with the topic and dig deeper into it. I make sure they practice their observational skills and give them lots of examples of experimental questions so that they can then come up with their own.
      • Linda
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        Sci8Lilly
        Students are definitely more interested and participate when they can personally relate to the topic.
    • Stephanie
      Participant
      Chirps: 33
      stephertan
      I think the biggest way we can encourage and foster curiosity and questioning in students is to set up our learning spaces as places where risk is rewarded and not penalized. So often we SAY we want kids to be curious learners but we have to plow ahead through a heavy curricular schedule and we don't build time into our day to allow for it. Classroom practices such as worksheet learning, closed questioning, and test prep focus can foster passive learning and rewards memorization and compliance rather than curiosity and risk taking.  By setting up a space where they are free to explore and question and by modeling that in the way we lead the class we can create spaces where kids are willing and eager to let their curiosity fly. I love the idea of the I Wonder boards but this needs to extend beyond science instruction. Inquiry has a place in ELA, math, social studies...all areas!
      • Shelley
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        Shelley_Metcalf
        I agree!  An I Wonder board would be a great addition to other subjects - especially ELA (while reading a story or novel.)
      • Bridget
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        BridgetL
        I completely agree with your comment regarding 'saying' we are open to students being curious learners but often fall short with the demands of the academics that "must" be covered.  It is also difficult to overcome when parents demand results of how well their child is doing for each and every assignment.
    • Kate
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      Mrs Studey
      I love using an 'I Wonder' board to encourage curiosity and questions. I always try to have some Post-It notes on each table for students to use during class. In the past, I have taken the questions from the board and had students practice sorting them into the different question types. Usually, we do this on large chart paper around the room and do a gallery walk. Typically, the questions all surround a specific phenomena that we were looking at during class. Students discuss why questions fit in certain categories, and they also see if they agree or disagree with the placement of specific questions. This opens up lots of opportunities for great analysis and gets them thinking more about the types of questions they ask. It's also great practice for English Language Learners to write questions!
      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37
        I haven't used the I Wonder board yet, but I am excited to try it out in the future.
    • Kristin
      Participant
      Chirps: 28
      KristinBlack829
      I try to have my students do a lot of sketching, such as sketching a leaf or flower they observe up close or something they observe under a microscope. Some enjoy it more than others, but it requires them to focus and pay attention to the little details. They can then look at their own sketch (and the details they noticed because of it) to begin asking questions. To get them beyond the general "What is it?" types of questions, I might have them compare their sketch to a real image of something similar but different, or an image of something we've already discussed in class so they can try to make connections and develop deeper questions this way.
      • Kate
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        Mrs Studey
        I am planning on doing a lot more journaling with my students this next year. Nature journaling using pictures, words, and numbers is so powerful to help student understanding. John Muir Laws has a great site with lots of resources for teachers on nature journaling.
      • Stephanie
        Participant
        Chirps: 33
        stephertan

        @Kate I teach Sketchnoting as a notetaking skill to my 5th grade early in the year. Some choose to use it and other do not but this sounds very similar to what you're talking about.

      • Kristin
        Participant
        Chirps: 28
        KristinBlack829

        @Kate Thanks for sharing that resource Kate!

      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37
        I really like your idea of using sketching to help students pay attention to details and ask questions.  I have done this with students when we have observed onion cells under the microscope while studying mitosis, but I would like to incorporate more sketching in class.
      • David
        Participant
        Chirps: 18
        lumpydave84

        @Maria (Dede) @Kristen @Kate thank you for this idea and the website... as we develop on a new course about native ecology we want students to be able to draw from their other skill sets and drawing on their artistic minds in this way is a great idea thank you!

    • Austin
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      austinkennedy612
      Over the years we have developed a program that allows students to be alright without getting an answer right away. Nature itself is our biggest tool to teach the skills that allow students to learn about patience, curiosity and empowerment. We have a few "core routines" that we do weekly with students that we think bridges this gap. One of the most effective tools we use is one of our core routines called "Sit Spots". We guide them to find a place in nature (on our organizations property) where they can just sit and 'be'. It becomes personal to each individual because it is their spot and they notice the changes in phenology because their scope becomes smaller. We sit for 15 minutes in silence and then we convene to talk about what we saw. In the 15 minutes of sitting in one spot they can tell me more details about what they witnessed then they could about the rest of the 7 hours with us for the day. It's all about getting to know one biome, one community of soils and plants, the animals that call it home and so on really well. The sit spot becomes the home base from exploration outwards. The students are always excited to visit again and see what has changed or if things have shifted.
      • Stephanie
        Participant
        Chirps: 33
        stephertan
        I think the idea of "sit spots" could translate to your ELA instruction as well. Think of the poetry and art that could come from these observations! If you don't already have a cross curricular unit going with the art/ELA teachers then you should absolutely consider doing so.
      • Shelley
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        Shelley_Metcalf
        I love the idea of a "sit spot!"  We do a lot of hiking and exploring but don't take the time to do a lot of quiet observation.  This idea would help us build our observation skills for sure.
    • Lauren
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      laurenscull
      I utilize open ended questions to encourage curiosity, as well expanding upon the questions they are already asking, much like the monarch example above. Like anything, practicing and modeling these questions inspire students to ask similar ones. The more students hear questions and observations like these, the more likely they are to follow along.
      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37
        "Open ended questions" are important.  Practice is also key.
      • Stephanie
        Participant
        Chirps: 33
        stephertan
        I think that's the key really, practice... kids need to see how this works mostly because in our schools up to now so much of what they are asked to do is sit and listen. Questions are not always encouraged. As with anything we learn, we have to practice how to do it before we can become proficient.
    • Maria (Dede)
      Participant
      Chirps: 74
      dpander37
      I have used the animal tracks Power Point slides that show tracks moving toward each other in the first slide, and they are different sized animal tracks.  In the next slide, the tracks are mixed up in one area.  The next slide shows just one set of tracks, (the larger ones), moving away from the area.  After viewing each slide, I ask the students to think about what they observed and come up with some inferences about what is going on.  Then, I ask them to share their inferences with the class.  We look at the next slide, and follow the same procedure. After we have seen all the slides and listened to all of the observations and inferences, we discuss the plausibility of each inference.  The class talks about how they could find out what really happened through data collection and experimentation such as soil samples, knowing the date each image was taken, and understanding the species of animal whose tracks we were viewing.
      • Kristin
        Participant
        Chirps: 28
        KristinBlack829
        This is a neat idea Dede!  Thanks for sharing!
      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37

        @Kristin Thank you.  I cannot take credit for the PowerPoint or lesson.  It was created by some anonymous teacher out there and got passed on to me.  However, I have found that this is a great lesson and loads of fun.  It also breaks the ice so students start talking and laughing together. So thanks to whomever made it.

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