Sunday, October 17, 2010

Don't Stop Questioning!

While scrolling through my very full Google Reader I came across another David Warlick post that made me stop and think.  10+ Ways to Promote a Learning Culture in Your School.  I loved #7 "Plant around the school and especially in the library curious questions that might spark a desire in learners (How many steps does a centipede have to take to travel a foot?  Who was the youngest person to sail around the world?)."  

Our 5th and 6th grade teachers decided to stop giving homework this year.  Yes you read that correctly.  There were many reasons that went in to the decision.  Anyway, instead of homework I've been talking to students and parents about ways to promote learning outside of school and for students during times when they want to ask the famous question "I'm done what do I do now?"

For my students: 
In their writer's notebooks they created a page that listed their curiosities.  I was intrigued to watch the process.  Some students finished a whole page of ideas while others couldn't even think of five things they were curious about.  

I plan to incorporate #9 from Warlick's list:  devote one classroom bulletin board to what they are learning, related or unrelated to the classroom.  I plan not only to display my own learning but ask that the students have a spot  in the room to display what they learn as well.

For parents, I sent an email with the following information:  
1.  Practice math facts!  or other Math Skills!  There are a TON of fun websites to help students do this. 

2.  Reading
     *  Find a magazine your child likes and give him/her a subscription
     *  Encourage curiosity!  Talk to your student about things they wonder about and encourage them to learn more-- I would love for  them to learn something on their own and then come in and teach the class!
     *  Read a book WITH them.
     *  Encourage them to visit online sites: , , ,  NOTE:  Please check out the sites listed BEFORE suggesting them to your child to make sure YOU feel they are appropriate.

3.  Science
      *  Perform experiments together or encourage them to foster their curiosity of the world.  They can always come in and share what they learned.
      *  Visit science websites geared for kids: , , ,   NOTE:  Please check out the sites listed BEFORE suggesting them to your child to make sure YOU feel they are appropriate.


1.  Visit the Denver Art Museum
2.  Visit the Museum of Nature and Science
3.  Visit the Children's Museum
4.  Go for a hike and talk about the things you see on the trail (rocks, plants, animals...)
5.  Take a class at the Home Depot with your child (or sign him/her up for one)
6.  Make a stop motion video
7.  Take pictures and then have fun editing them in (or another image editing site)
8.  Make cookies together and take them to a Senior Citizens center
9.  Go on a picnic together and plan the meal using the Food Guide Pyramid
10. Challenge your child or family using some Minute to Win it games:
11. Challenge your child to build something out of household materials  (example:  using 20 toothpicks and 20 marshmallows build the sturdiest bridge possible)

The possibilities are limitless!  The key is to promote CREATIVITY!!

What do you do in your classroom and life to promote and foster curiosity?