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We still look up to the skies

With thoughts of discovery or even inspiration, we still look skyward with awe. Clearly, there is still room for wonder and inquiry.

Photo credit: Mike Farringer, January 20, 2019

It hit me last night as I bundled myself up multiple times to go outside and see the super blood wolf moon. I looked into the sky to observe this natural phenomenon that I might not ever see again. And I wasn’t the only one. You can look at social media and see pictures and posts about the lunar eclipse. What hit me was the wonder so many of us still feel as adults - the wonder of nature, the wonder of the skies, and how cool it was if you got to experience that wonder with your children.

There is still that wonder in all of us. There is still that wonder in our students.

So how do we find that wonder in our classrooms? How do we spark discovery? How do we get them to inquire about the things that interest them? How do we get them to look skyward, metaphorically, in our classrooms?

Assess curiosity

First, it would be good to know what they are actually curious about. Survey the class. Observe what they read. Make notes of what they naturally start asking questions about. Ask. Ask. Ask. You need to wonder about what they wonder about.

Create a generative space

Get students to ask questions. Brainstorm questions. Have an open classroom where asking questions is a sought after skill. Students are so used to just having to answer questions, but they need to be able to ask questions, the right questions, for the task, as well. Make this a part of your lessons as often as possible.

Don’t give them all the answers

Sometimes when we read with students, we frontload everything. We give them all the answers before they even start reading. We take away their space to ask questions. Let them read and wonder. Ask them to develop questions as they read. Teach them how to annotate for that. Have students stop and discuss and they are wondering. This is also an important skill.

Give them space to explore

This can be anything from small research projects to answer those questions they developed while reading, to full-blown genius hour projects about a larger area of interest. Just make sure it’s student-centered. Give them the time and space to explore their curiosities. Guide them with the skills, organization, and process they need, but don’t get in the way of their discovery.

Show your wonder

Talk about what you’re curious about. Share what things you wonder about. Model asking questions. Look skyward yourself. Be that lifetime learner we want all of them to be. Check out that lunar eclipse.

So when you sit down to lesson plan this week, think about the wonder and curiosity of your class. Think about the questions they can ask. Think about what they can discover. And think about what you will learn about them through it all. Don’t ever stop wondering.

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