Today’s post is less about how we did something and more about how things felt today. And things felt really nice.
We are in a Social Studies unit on Native Americans right now (don’t worry–I’ll tell you all about it this weekend!) which has required my students to do a lot of digging into a piece of text and pulling out the important pieces. They read a section alone or with a partner, and underline important points. Then we discuss as a class what we marked; a project then follows related to each important point.
But like I said, this post is not about the project we’re working on, or how they know what’s important and what’s interesting, this one’s about what came after the discussion. Towards the end of our discussion today, Aiden noticed that there was nothing on our list related to music or dancing with the Cahokians; his background knowledge of Native Americans had music/chants and dance as an important part. I suggested that we could dig into that topic as homework tonight, searching for evidence elsewhere that may give ideas about how music and dance were included in the culture of the Cahokians. After that, we moved on to adding things to our list about how chunkey stones were found in many burial sites, but we couldn’t find in the text why that was: it is a coincidence (like some proposed) or on purpose (related to status, as some predicted). Again, the suggestion was made to dig a little with that idea at home. Once more after that, Don made a suggestion plan part of their project at home in order to more effectively use their time during our project work time tomorrow. It worked for him yesterday, and our class took notice.
Ok, so what? I asked them questions and gave them homework. Well not really. I didn’t ever say anyone had to do any of that. But because of the culture of curiousity and inquiry that I believe I am fostering in my classroom, I believe that many will do it anyway. They will do it because they want to know the answer, not because I told them to. They’ll plan their project because they want to, not because I told them to. That feels pretty good. There really is no better evidence of powerful learning than when a student investigates a topic that’s interesting to them with the knowledge as the “prize,” not a grade or gold star or sucker.
After that conversation, I had to leave to go to a district meeting for the afternoon. The great thing about that? I didn’t worry one bit about leaving my class with a sub, because I knew that they would have the same fabulous afternoon with her as they would if I was there. They’ve proved to me over and over again during the last month that they know what to do, and do it! They are definitely respectful and responsible learners and show that in their words and actions. Believe me, having that peace of mind while I am away is priceless.
Here’s to another fabulous day tomorrow. And the next day and the next. 🙂
Go ahead…you can call it FABULOUS fifth grade! Excited for you AND your kiddos!
First, I love the blog.
Second, Zoe wanted me to tell you that I just visited Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Fort Harrod, which has been reconstructed, was built in 1774 and was the first permanent settlement of the area now known as the State of Kentucky. The link below illustrates the struggle between pioneers and indigenous Native Americans.
Faith in the students in your class and in the natural curiosity of children to find more about things of interest never goes astray when we have provided them with the opportunities and the knowledge we trust them in their efforts. This faith not only makes them confident learners, it helps us learn as they discover what we may not know. We guide them and, in the process, join them in their learning.
I think it has been my experiences as a teacher of young children for many years that provided me with a legacy of curiosity for the world around me. My interests are many and my enthusiasm for commenting on blogs is merely a reflection of the gift of curiosity the children have left me.
Teacher (retired), N.S.W., Australia