Viewing 31 reply threads
    • 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.
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    • Kimberly
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      kmichellehowell
      I think we can be catalysts for students to obsserve and wonder by first modeling our own wonderings. Start with, "Hey, everyone! I saw this _________ yesterday and it made me wonder __________." Then ask them to share about things they see each day that make them wonder. If there is a student who never has anything to share, perhaps you could invite them to make observatiosn at recess and then share any wonderings from there.
    • Ashley
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      ABloch01
      As educators, we are the biggest determining factor of the mood and "vibe" of the classroom.  If we aren't excited about the material or content, there is absolutely no way our students will be excited about it.  As a result, I'm not only a content expert and guide, but I am a motivator, or "hype-woman" as well.  Each day, I need to find ways to switch the material up and excited the students into getting the work done. Students also will want to be involved more with the content and material when they feel they are part of the process. When they ask questions and they we follow up with investigations that seek answers to their questions and what they wonder about, they are more willing the do the work when it is something that I put together.
    • Amy
      Participant
      Chirps: 26
      AmySenn
      I think that an educator's willingness to be a co-learner and model for students can help students see how they too can observe and wonder.  The educator's willingness to not be the expert and instead to ponder questions that they do not have the answers to creates a safe environment for students to do the same.  We are all so used to needing to have (or find) the answer that we have forgotten the importance of taking the time to observe and then formulate questions without an attachment to how they will be answered.
      • Kimberly
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        kmichellehowell
        Amy, your response makes me think of something that I heard a while ago. Something along the lines of rather than being the sage on the stage, we should be willing to be the meddler in the middle. That way our students come to see us as life-long learners.
    • Jenny
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      jambud
      This is something I have not done very much of. This was a surprising realization. For example, I used to do a fermentation with yeast and had students repeat it while changing a variable of their choosing. I left students to think of these variables on their own as homework, and when they couldn't I would often list off possible variables for them to choose from. I was very focused on them learning the laboratory techniques and the scientific writing components of the project rather than the idea generation, observation, and wonder part. Thinking about this now we could have spent much more time making observations about our results from the first experiment, generating wonder statements and then thinking of questions/ variables to test.
      • Laura
        Participant
        Chirps: 21
        Laura Schofield
        Hello Jenny, I am currently trying to write a curriculum unit for the other 6th grade teachers in my city. I have had a lot of experience having students do guided or open ended science inquiry.  However, most of the 6th grade teachers in our district do not have that experience because most of our 6th grade science teachers are also the 6th grade math teachers. The focus for our district has been on math, the math curriculum is very prescribed and takes up 70% of the teachers school day. Also, all PD offered for the 6th grade math/science teachers has had a math focus. So I have struggled with creating a curriculum that has higher inquiry experiences without overwhelming the other teachers who will get very little support or resources to do this curriculum. Your post reminded me that starting with activities students already do, and redesigning the activity to push to the structured or guided level. This may be a place that will help my fellow teachers with implementing the more inquiry based curriculum.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      mgerhardt
      Being outside and allowing time will encourage observation. Younger children are usually curious. I think we stifle that  as they age. Probably by as the earlier article stated by rewarding the "right"  answer the questions, rather than by being able to ask good questions. I need to continue to ask what do you notice? what do you wonder?
      • Amy
        Participant
        Chirps: 26
        AmySenn
        Outside always provides a lot of things to wonder about.  Having some tools like magnifying glasses and digital cameras sometimes helps my student look at things more closely and stimulates more observations and "wondering".
    • Elandriel
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      elandriellewis
      I think educators can be catalysts for students to observe and wonder by allowing space for open-ended exploration of areas and materials.  Modeling curiosity with "I wonder" and open ended questions is also important. One of my favorite practices in early childhood is the practice of providing provocations to children to help determine the next course of study.  In doing this, the teacher provides many objects and potential experiences to students and encourages their open explorations of what has been provided.  In watching and recording student questions, explorations, and time spent in play with certain items or experiences, the teacher then knows what activities will best engage their student's curiosity and wonder as they go about learning their literacy, math, etc. standards.
    • Todd
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      CoreCyclones
      We as educators can be catalysts for students to observe and wonder by tapping into their interests from the start. Although I don't consider myself one, I think master educators are able to read the room and introduce concepts/topics that would appeal to their students. Having students fill out a survey on where their interests lie can help an educator tap into a nerve for students to make their learning more personable and dynamic.
    • Lori
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      MPBirding
      I think going outside is an awesome way to get students questioning their environment. I think it is also important to provide time and space to have students observe and wonder. I know that is always something I struggle with because it feels like we are always on a tight timeline. One goal for this upcoming school year is to slow down and explore. My school encourages this so it is important that I take advantage of it! In MS I think it is also important to help students learn how to ask open ended questions and know that sometimes there will not be an immediate answer provided. I hope this is a process that I can do along side my students and they can also watch me model these behaviors.
      • Todd
        Participant
        Chirps: 18
        CoreCyclones
        I agree, taking students outside is very influential in heightening their senses and overall experience in learning.
      • Elandriel
        Participant
        Chirps: 21
        elandriellewis
        I agree, giving children opportunities to experience things outside their normal day-to-day (and sadly being outdoors isn't normal for a lot of kids) is important to build knowledge and curiosity.
    • Darlene
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      DarleneKehn
      I think that bringing them outside regularly and showing them images of the natural world in their local environment can help students take ownership of their learning.  Starting the "I Wonder" board would be a great kick-0ff activity for the school year after bringing them outside.  Asking them to bring a field journal or post it notes as they walk around the school grounds and their own homes is a great way to get their questions down on paper and promote discussion back in the classroom.  From there, this can open doors to volunteer opportunities in their community as well as citizen science projects where they will learn even more about their surroundings through investigation and deeper thinking.
    • Russell
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      rfriedman1212
      Simply being present can set up educators as the best possibly catalyst for their learners. As humans, we re already naturally curious. We ask questions and challenge everything around us. An educator's presence can push learners to ask deeper questions about their curiosities. We can provide specialized environments to spark wonder and we can be a guide as they follow their own path to answers. We may not always have the answer as educators but we are always learning as well. Ensuring students know that you are there as a resource and guide can be beneficial to them pursuing their curiosities. For many of our programs we run we end with a "story of the day" where learners will simply share 3 words that described their experiences of the day. This helps them reflect on their wonders of the day and what they have taken away from the programming as well.
      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37
        The "Story of the day" is a great idea to foster reflection and help memories stick.
    • David
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      lumpydave84
      Not having all the answers is important, so "wondering" along with students is important to and allows for a journey of discovery together or as a class.  Getting students to relate material to their own lives if my way of making open ended questions.  Whatever we might be covering asking students why should you care about this? or how does this apply to you or your family?  I find students are now more open to realizing what is around them in their own homes and to bring it up in class at a later point.  For my High School students I want them to observe the adults in their life and wonder about what type of person they aspire to be.
    • April
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      AprilWhitehead
      I think modelling wonder for students is important - having unstructured time to notice, question, and record your thoughts is not prioritized as soon as students are old enough for standardized state testing. I love the idea of a Wonder board, and I plan on adding one to my classroom.
    • Shelley
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      Shelley_Metcalf
      I really like the idea of having a "Notice" or "I wonder" of the day.  I also really want to incorporate an I Wonder board this year. I agree that one of the most important parts of leading our students to observe and wonder is for us to model those things ourselves.  I need more practice with asking more open ended questions and not always leading them to the answer based on my response. I have to be honest and say that I don't agree with the quote at the end of the presentation although I understand what it is trying to say.  I want to emphasize that school (whether formal or informal) shouldn't make us "periods" at the end but should leave us continuing to be "question marks."  Ideally, questions should lead to questions infinitely.
      • Elandriel
        Participant
        Chirps: 21
        elandriellewis
        I really like this idea too and think it would work great for early childhood as well as incorporating SEL strategies in the classroom.  The SEL connection comes in because noticing and curiosity require suspension of judgement and can be used in intra- and inter-personal relations.
      • Ashley
        Participant
        Chirps: 23
        ABloch01
        I've used the wonderboard - the students really do like it.
    • Jon Javier
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      jagjavier
      The part of the video on "Inspiring Inquiry through Open-ended Questions" in which the subject is on approaches to observations (with the photo of a pigeon drinking water from a spout) reminds me of the insertions (breaker or time-out) that I do in my computer programming classes before the pandemic, wherein to break routine and boredom and spark curiosity among my eight-grade students I would show some photo or video documentations of interesting field observations I had in the campus grounds (a wild bird, a plant, or even invasive Finlayson's squirrel). The brief activity insertion is effective in the sense of just achieving the very limited purpose that I mentioned earlier. The shown photo / video documentation will stir students' curiosity and wonder, but verily short-lived. I never framed the subjects shown to my classes using open-ended questions that will spark authentic learner's curiosity and wonder that will increase the likelihood that they will pursue answering their questions through scientific investigations (that they are learning through their natural science subjects like Integrated Science and Earth Science). Haha. I think I should resume doing these insertions (version 2.0) in the forthcoming second year remote learning setup of ours this September.
    • Nancy
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      pricenj
      Taking students outdoors to learn about their local environment is so important.  I know it feels difficult, particularly in an urban environment.  But there are things in every community that can inspire questions and interest in students.
      • Darlene
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        DarleneKehn
        I agree! I have learned that my students really don't know what their local environment has to offer, so going out in their backyard is great way to promote wonderment and curiosity so they may begin to understand the habitat.  I think that it also promotes environmental stewardship.
    • Laura
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Laura Schofield
      The quotes from the video that resonate with me are, "Want students to pursue their own curiosity," and “Building a positive classroom culture by showing students that you trust them to have good ideas, think for themselves, and to contribute in valuable ways.” In order for students to feel "safe" to share their observations and wonders; I need to model both these skills, give students ample practice opportunities and identify hurdles which are making a lot of students answer "IDK, I don't know" when asked, "What do you notice? What do you wonder?" Not answering their wonders, but praising them for their question and asking a follow up "I wonder," question. For example, showing students a 2 minute video of the bluebird box in my backyard, where I model my observations and wonders. Having students practice the "I notice, I wonder" questions as the opening of 2-3 classes a week. For students who answer, IDK," asking them privately, "What do you see? What do you hear?" And respond, "YES!! Good observation." to encourage them, that yes, their observations are valid. One benefit to reaching my whole class remotely, during the first 5 minutes of class students would respond to a video or photo by answering "I notice, I wonder," on a daily basis. I was able to go through student's observations and wonders and reading them aloud to the class and answering a few, which would elicit follow up "I wonder" questions. It also gave students who were reluctant an opportunity to hear more modeling of observations and wonders. I also love answering students questions with open ended questions.
    • Pam
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      pkevans
      This summer I taught science one day a week at summer school to K-8 students. I normally teach middle schoolers. The first day we just went on a scavenger hunt. I loved the pure joy the little students had! The were so mesmerized by the different pine cones we looked at. Another day we went to the prairie on our school grounds. They were so excited to go there, like it was a park! I do find myself being a guide and explaining to them what they see instead of asking them questions about what they see. I will work on that this fall with my middle school students.
      • Martha
        Participant
        Chirps: 23
        Martha gardenbird
        I too tend to fall into the guide trap a lot. However, sometimes it is totally appropriate. The trick seems to be finding the right balance between the 2 roles that we can have.
    • Catia
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      catiawolff
      When students share their experiences, sometimes their peers become intrigued.  I have noticed that there seems to be a couple of students in each class that really show great interest and their excitement usually captivates their classmates.  Along with students sharing their experiences, it is important to continuously use any outdoor opportunity available to promote students experiencing the natural world.
      • Austin
        Participant
        Chirps: 17
        austinkennedy612
        I appreciate that you talked about the peer to peer relationship when it comes to getting students excited, it is so important for them to see that it's ok to be excited with their peers!
    • Lauren
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      laurenscull
      I would agree with below comments that it's very difficult to get both kids and adults alike to just slow down and observe. Even when I take kids on hikes, I have to remind them to look up instead of staring at the ground as they walk. As educators, looking and observing ourselves sets a model for kids. Using comments like, "I noticed ___" and "I wonder". I also think that being really excited and enthusiastic about a topic gets kids psyched up for a program as well. I like to set aside time during hikes for exploration of a specific area with boundaries.
    • Sue
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      SueWatts
      I think for all of us slowing down and observing is a challenge.  Even in our Junior Naturalists, there is an impetus to walk and discover - not stop and discover. Building in moments where we all stop and observe phenomena that maybe we wouldn't normally - a bird sound map, observations in the butterfly garden, prairie, woodlands where we just stop for 5 minutes and sit still would be an excellent practice and habit to develop.
      • Sue
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        SueWatts
        Somehow I lost the rest of what I wrote - perhaps kitty editing. Since I am passionate about nature and learning, I don't find it hard to be catalysts for students to observe and wonder. As a naturalist, I always relate to the students as co-learners since I am not a scientist or expert in anything! marmalade
      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37

        @Sue Your kitten looks just like my cat Trillian did when she was a kitten.  Does your kitty like to chew on wires too?  :-)

    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      Sci8Lilly
      One of the best ways to motivate students is through your own appreciation and excitement for something.  I don’t contain my love and excitement for birds when I introduce Project FeederWatch.  I can’t help but be enthusiastic and passionate about birds!  Students realize that it is just fine to be excited about science.  When it comes to questions and discussions about random topics, I will ask them what they think first and steer them to find out for themselves.  Since my students have 1 to 1 devices, I will turn it over to the class and it becomes a competition as to who can find the answers first.  This always leads to more questions and opens the door for discussing how to navigate the Internet and evaluate what they find.  
      • Pam
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        pkevans
        I tend to get overly excited about science as well!
      • Kristin
        Participant
        Chirps: 28
        KristinBlack829
        Enthusiasm and excitement go a long way!  When we are outside exploring and someone tells me they see a grasshopper or even a fungus, I'm like "WHERE????  I WANT TO SEE!!!!!!". They look at me like I'm crazy at first, but then before you know it, they are taking pictures of insects or fungus or animal tracks at their house and can't wait to show me.  :)
    • Stephanie
      Participant
      Chirps: 33
      stephertan
      I think it begins with modeling how we observe and wonder about the world and by ensuring our classrooms are places where risks are encouraged and not penalized. Ideally if we could go gradeless for this part of the day it would likely lead to less inhibition about wondering and risk taking. It would also help if we could slow down the pace a bit. When you only have 15 min for the science activity, that isn't very conducive to observation. We have to build time into the day and really carve out a space so that observation and wonder can take place.
      • Pam
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        pkevans
        They are so conditioned to asking if this will be graded. Some don't want to think if they don't get a grade for it. Sad.
      • Shelley
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        Shelley_Metcalf
        Grades really do tend to get students thinking about what the right answer is rather than wondering and discovering. They tend to just want to know if it's going to be on the test, especially older students.
    • Martha
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      Martha gardenbird
      Isn't this the direction that the newer science standards are heading us towards? The newer standards are about observing phenomenon/a and then asking and answering questions about them. I teach high school students so an "I Wonder Board" might not be to their liking--however, we still do plenty of wondering. I use discrepant phenomena when I can. We discuss graphs (teenage behavior being a favorite source of food for thought) and do plenty of wondering around those. We even look for things that the Internet has wrong and get lots of wonderings done! The teacher has to both model that innate sense of curiosity and provide lessons that students find interesting (note: not all students find all lessons interesting--I aim for most students on any one day).
      • Pam
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        pkevans
        Haha!! It is hard to get everyone's buy in every day!
      • Jenny
        Participant
        Chirps: 10
        jambud
        I have heard of "surprise journals" being used in medical schools. Something a little different from a wonder board.  As it was explained to me you describe experiences in which you were surprised, as a way of uncovering biases you may have as a doctor working with patients. I have often thought of doing something like this as an exercise for our students to generate questions about the world. If I frame something as an activity done in med school my super keen science students pay really close attention!
    • Rachel
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      restendahl
      We can provide the students with interesting videos, curriculums, activities and field experiences to engage with. More variety in activities can spark student interests. Then modeling observing and wondering for your students. Show them that you are also always observing, wondering and learning. Students really respond to enthusiastic teachers. And making sure that students are comfortable sharing their thoughts in the classroom.
    • Bridget
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      BridgetL
      We can be catalysts for students to observe and wonder by modeling observing and wondering ourselves!  It is important to support and guide students to question and wonder.  With a tendency to have them spend time in school with memorization drills, read and regurgitate, etc. it can be unnerving for students to be 'let loose'.  Although it can seem like such an easy thing to do, students do need to be guided in how to observe, and to enjoy the beauty of observation.
      • David
        Participant
        Chirps: 18
        lumpydave84
        I constantly go down the rabbit hole on new interests or ideas I have and try to take time in class and share it with them.  Sometimes its a new plant I am interested in or chasing down a new life bird or even planning an outdoorsy vacation for my family.
    • Austin
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      austinkennedy612
      We can be a catalyst for observation and wondering through mimicking inquiry based learning and practice our passions and own curiosity alongside our students. I have found that the lessons that seem to stick with our students the best, are the ones my team and I are most passionate about. We can be catalysts by allowing ourselves to step back and let nature teach the students with our guidance and encouragement. Allowing a brave and safe culture to share thoughts and questions, without fear of mocking or being looked down upon. Offering students a place both publicly and privately to share their wonderings as they build confidence in their wondering skills. We can be catalysts if we model the workshops and create an environment that allows growth
      • Bridget
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        BridgetL
        The passion of the teacher always has the biggest impact on students and their ability to connect with the subject matter.  It is always a good reminder to step back and let the students take the lead.
    • Kristin
      Participant
      Chirps: 28
      KristinBlack829
      We can be catalysts by modeling this concept of observe and wonder and by showing our enthusiasm for different types of observations and questions. We can also be that catalyst through our feedback, either orally or in written form. I start (almost) every class each day with a "What Do You Notice?  What Do You Wonder?" prompt. I display a picture or video on my ViewSonic board (similar to a SmartBoard). The picture/video was always of something in the natural world. I created a digital document with three columns: one for the date, one for notices, and one for wonders. As kids came into my class, they were expected to open their Chromebooks (we are one-to-one) and complete their Notice/Wonder for the day. We then shared and discussed some of them as a class. I always praised and thanked those who are willing to share, especially if they made a connection in their notice/wonder to a topic we studied in class, provided a lot of detail in their recordings, when someone made a "not so obvious" observation, such as something they noticed in the background, or asked a complex or open-ended question. I'd also periodically provide private, written feedback on their document. It's fun to see their skills grow over the year.
      • Pam
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        pkevans
        I like this idea for a bell ringer.
      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37
        I really like that you mentioned we have to "show our enthusiasm".  Students are often not motivated but if a teacher is enthusiastic about a lessor or activity, it often helps students find their own enthusiasm.
      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37
        I agree that modeling the behavior for students is important.  I like using images also to spark wonder in students.
    • Kate
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      Mrs Studey
      I think it's important for us to do lots of modeling of how to observe and ask questions. Also, make sure that students realize that there are no wrong questions - just different types of questions (closed vs open) - and explain the differences. If students feel comfortable asking questions they will be more likely to do that. If we give them different ways to ask their questions, they may be more likely to ask - provide private and public ways for them to share their questions both verbally and in writing. I do an 'I wonder...' board, but I also let students know that they can give their questions directly to me, too. I find that as students build their confidence in asking questions, they will transition to posting them on the public board eventually.
      • Martha
        Participant
        Chirps: 23
        Martha gardenbird
        I like your no wrong questions idea and your support for quieter students who eventually decide to go public with their questions. What a great way to keep them trying.
      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37
        "Modeling" the behavior we expect is always important, so yes, I agree that modeling "asking questions and making observations" is vital.
    • Maria (Dede)
      Participant
      Chirps: 74
      dpander37
      It is also important to give students opportunities to observe either in an image, or at a museum, or outside.  Offering students a wonder board as a place to ask questions is a great idea.
      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37
        Giving students "opportunities to observe" is very important, and I agree with you on this.  Our days are so rushed and the requirements for curriculum are well defined.  However, taking a few minutes here and there and on field trips and outings for observation is very important.
    • Maria (Dede)
      Participant
      Chirps: 74
      dpander37
      As educators we can be catalysts for students to observe and wonder by asking students questions and helping them to find the answers.
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      binouser
      One way to be a catalyst is to create a classroom that allows students to share their thoughts safely without fear of ridicule.   I encourage students to share their opinions publicly and or privately.  I like to model creating a list of questions.  This past year my 3rd grade students were eating breakfast in the classroom,  due to Covid restrictions that closed the cafeteria.  We ate outside and observed the field near my classroom.   We were able to watch the birds on the ground and in the air.  We were able to watch the gophers pop up. Our observations gave us a common topic that we could discuss together.  I would like to be able to provide that time again this next school year.   An "I Wonder" board would be a good supplement to this practice.
      • Kate
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        Mrs Studey
        What a great way to start each day! It's interesting that while dealing with Covid restrictions, you found something new to do with your kids that you might not have discovered otherwise.
      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37
        That sounds like you created a great opportunity for learning.
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