Friday, May 31, 2013

Talk Topic 12: Reflections after having read the book.

Now that we have finished reading this w-o-n-d-e-r-ful professional resource, it's time to reflect!

This post will give us an opportunity to think about the learning from our book study with the following guiding questions:

What were some of the big ideas that you took away from the book "A Place for Wonder?"

How did you apply your new learning?

How has this learning impacted your teaching practice? 


  1. Big Ideas:

    -inquiry in the classroom is manageable
    -it is okay to start off small as your comfort with the whole inquiry process grows
    -it is so important to continue to install/re-instill that sense of wonder/curiosity in students, regardless of their age
    -I really liked all the research about non-fiction writing because I struggle with how to best teach that to my students

    Some great ideas/strategies/tasks/examples from the book are:

    -heart wonders-love that phrase!
    -one small square
    -discovery table and corresponding graphic organizer-a great send home letter as well
    -taking a listening walk
    -wonder of the week

  2. I found that often students are so used to being told what and how to think at school, that giving them a chance to "wonder" based on their own interests, not only is refreshing to them as students, but also to us as educators. To see students working at their full potential because they are engaged in their work as oppose to being forced to work on a topic based on what is requires is a phenomenon.

    When children are interested in something and given the opportunity to explore and wonder about it, they are motivated intrinsically to find out more detailed information on the topic and in turn produce works of art/written or drawn that are a true representation of their learning process.

  3. I thought the wonder journals were a great idea for the children to write their own wonders in a book, where they could write their own thoughts and wonders and try to answer them.

    The non-fiction wonder writing about getting started in choosing a wonder topic and using the chart was very informative. It is something I can do with the children in the class to organize their thoughts and wonders on a topic.

  4. Our wonder journey started with our students collecting pieces of nature with their reading buddies. We connected it to our living and non-living things unit. We accidentally collected a ladybug, and that's when our wondering adventures began. Our students came up with many questions such as "Why do ladybugs have spots?" and "Why do ladybugs fly?". The students came up with their own theories about their questions (example: ladybugs fly because they are scared of humans) After we were unable to find the answers in books, we used the computers for our reaseach, and answered our questions. We are currently working on our own personal wonders. This experience has taught us that our students are always thinking and processing information, and it is our job as teachers to help them fuel their interests by providing them the means and tools necessary to find the answers to what they seek to know.

  5. Things we learned:

    -how to authentically and meaningfully teach children to add detail to their writing by first teaching them to see detail, then describe what they see (ie. one small square, listening/looking nature walk, 5 senses sheet)

    -reminded us/reconnected us with the magic of the natural world-something that many of our students may be missing in their child life for one reason or another (e.g., latch-key kid, video games/technology overload, etc.)

    -implement/explicitly teach non-fiction reading/writing through wonder using gradual release model (as authors did with their ongoing hermit crab wonder example).

    -2 types of wonders: heart wonders, research wonders

    Things we used:

    -wonder wall-students post wonders and other students can post answers on sticky notes and share their thinking

    -observation window-little permanent fixture in our room with binoculars, pencils, and 3 types of paper I think... I see... I wonder...

    -discovery table-students began collecting rocks outside earlier this year, so it was a perfect fit to create a home for these treasures
    our discovery table has:
    -magnifying glasses
    -rocks, leaves
    -our plants
    -"wonder words" on the window nearby (e.g., what? when? who? why? how? where?)

    -we used the Discovery Table as part of our Daily 5 work on writing, where students write about what they see when looking closely at the rocks, leaves, etc.

    Things to share:

    -plant research book
    -discovery table writing
    -wonder wall
    -discovery table
    -wonder window

    Important Learning Piece:

    We realize how important the physical classroom environment is with respect to being conduces to this type of learning. We have master plans to rearrange for next year, and also structure our classroom "flow of the day" to be more flexible for spontaneous wonder and curiosity. Reading this book has clearly outlined the need for change in this respect.

  6. Reflection: I really enjoyed reading this book. It's the first time in a long time that I've read a professional book that made sense during the first read because it was written in plain English rather than teacher jargon, provided ideas that you could easily implement the very next day and at your finger tips were all the blackline masters that were referred to as examples in the book. Wow! Talk about WONDERful!

    A few key ideas that made me think...
    -we live in a 2-D world that is technology driven...thus the importance for us to provide an environment where children can explore their sense, investigate their wonders, as questions and explore ways to get answers
    -this approach is very CHILD driven which creates an intrinsic motivation for learning...they're invested in their learning because they're exploring their own interests
    -the book really helped to show how your room could be set up to create a world of wonder. It made me think that if I were in a homeroom class, it would be great to start right in September!
    -I guess I never really thought about it before, but I really liked how the wonders were divided...heart wonders vs. wonders that can be researched. Not every question needs to be researched and explored though outside research.
    -one of my favourite small square! As the author states, "children are lower to the ground so they often notice things that adults don't." How many times have we asked our students to add more detail to their writing, but have we really taught them how to do this? This is a great activity for exactly that!
    -Another favourite: The Listening Walk. I did this with L.G.'s class. It's amazing what you can hear outside. It would have been great to go back into the classroom and have done a writing activity as a follow-up.