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Learning Team Reflection

on May 9, 2011

“Children everywhere know that the secret of wisdom is to be curious about the world, to open up their senses and see, hear, taste, touch, and smell life’s treasures.  Giving children time to explore their world, ask questions, and pursue those questions that matter to them the most lets them know I value their curiosity outside the classroom as well as inside. My job is to continue to nurture their wonder and work to awaken my own.” pg. 135

Once we started our learning I began to read Debbie Miller’s book, Reading for Meaning. I adore this book, and I know it is one that I will read before every new school year. I was also recommended the book, A Place to Wonder by Georgia Hear & Jennifer McDonough. In that book there is an amazing quote that connects so well with reading nonfiction;

A Place for Wonder

” The secret of wisdom is to be curious – to take the time to look closely, to use all your sense to see, and touch and taster and smell and hear. To keep on wondering.”

In class we have been doing a lot of wondering! We have a wonder wall where the students and sometimes parents post their wonders. It is a great way to provide support to the students who are afraid to ask questions for fear of being wrong. It is a place to understand that not all wonders and questions need to be answered, but to be embraced and to take us to further wonderings.We use Wonderopolis, a great site for wonders of the day, I provide questions of the day for us to merely think about, and sometimes I show them little video clips about the wonders in the world. The students love these activities and continuously refer back to these lessons, making connections!

Over the year I have seen a huge growth in my students in their collaboration skills, their communicating skills, and their reading skills. But most important I have seen a growth in their understanding of their own learning. The students explain to me how they learned something, how they found an answer, and how they helped another student with a question. We have done many assignments around reading fiction and non-fiction. Many of the lessons have come from Debbie Miller and some have come from Adrienne Gear’s workshops.

Our latest assignment has to do with creating their own non-fiction book. Wow, the first day of research was an eye-opener! I instructed the students that in pairs they would work collaboratively with their partners to help research their Canadian animal. Immediately I noticed how well the students got to work and they were discussing what they were doing as they did it. Here are a few quotes I got from the students as they were researching;

What is good about researching together?

“So we can help other people ad express our ideas and then we have two people’s ideas to write down.” LT “Then I ger more work done quicker and I get more writing done too.” JB

“It helps you get it down faster, one person reads while the other writes.” TR  “It helps when you don’t know a word and if there is something not in the book and your partner knows they can tell you!” JC
Now these two I caught deliberating on where to look for something. Madisyn was trying to use the table of contents to find what type of food her animal, the eagle, eats. Well, the table of contents did not say food or eats and she was a little baffled. Her partner, Archie, says not I think it might be under prey, what do you think? This picture was taken while they were discussing this, these two worked so well together and they encouraged each other and thanked each other.
I have taught the reading strategies throughout the year using fiction and non-fiction with the students. I believe they have really understand the differences in reading both, but more importantly how to use the strategies while they read both fiction and non-fiction.  The students have been having conversations around what they are reading and learning. I hear them use the language that comes along with the reading strategies, and I have seen them all gain confidence in their own learning. They have shown that they are curious an now are not afraid to wonder why. I embrace the questions that I do not know, and I validate the student who can teach me. To model to the students that we too are learners open the students eyes to see that we do not always need to have the answers to the questions, but that we need to be open to dig deeper to find the answers even if that means more questions!
Back to Debbie Miller’s quote;
“Children everywhere know that the secret of wisdom is to be curious about the world, to open up their senses and see, hear, taste, touch, and smell life’s treasures.  Giving children time to explore their world, ask questions, and pursue those questions that matter to them the most lets them know I value their curiosity outside the classroom as well as inside. My job is to continue to nurture their wonder and work to awaken my own.” pg. 135
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