After attending our own in-school educamp last Friday I have a burning question and interest in inquiry. A colleague of mine, a kindergarten teacher, was sharing how her topics in class are student driven.
Over the years I have been aware of the importance of knowing your students, and finding ways to use their interests in the classroom. I recently started doing an Expert Hour in my classroom. The way it looks is students take on the role of teacher on a Friday, and they teach the class about an interest or passion of their own. The goal is to allow my grade 1s and 2s an opportunity to share their passions, and also to take on a leadership role. Thus far I find this endeavor to be very successful!
On Friday when I was visiting the Kindergarten classroom I was introduced to a completely different way to have student interests in the classroom. My colleague runs centers in her classroom that include Math, Writing, Reading, Science and more. I think to myself…. YUP I run centers too. But, what was different about hers?? Her centers are completely theme based around a student driven topic. HOW COOL! Upon more discussion I found out that she has the class generate a theme, and they vote on which topic they would like to learn about next (ie. Space, Gardening)
Hearing about this way of doing things in the classroom I had a lot of questions. I was intrigued on how this could look in my classroom, yet scared about the unknown. How would this work with my Daily 5 Literacy program? How would this work if I am running daily math centers? How would this work with the science topics in the curriculum? I have so many questions that I do not have the answers to yet. What I do know is that I am interested and motivated to find the answers!
One of my big goals as a teacher is to always make learning engaging and exciting for the students. When I think about student centered inquiry in the way that my colleague has approached it, I think that this is a great way to engage students.
Looking forward to the last two months of school, and to the rest of my career, I am wondering how to make the shift to a student driven inquiry within my classroom. I know I wont be the first and I definitely wont be the last. But what I do know is if I spend some time connecting and researching I will be able to find the answers to my questions.