Summer, that rejuvenating expanse of time that captures ideas, piles them in the dust bin and allows hints of thoughts to resurface in November. By sketching out some ideas here, I hope to create a platform to starting next year. Moving forwards!
- Kick-off the year with this project. Students come in fresh from summer and have plenty of ideas. (Do they lose ideas as the year progresses or does the glitter of a new year tarnish with time?) Tap into their questions. Use the questions to build discussions and a strong classroom community.
- Round-table brainstorms – other groups provide input and help one group problem solve
- Spend time building questions and helping students develop good questions. Solid questions at the beginning help students get into observations with a better feel of what they are doing.
- More days for the inquiry project but less time at each session. This year, I gave a class period (block schedule) a month to the project. Feedback highly encouraged more data collection days. Give it to them. I might have to give a half block twice a month but send them outside more often.
- Scheduled meeting times – I need to spend more time with groups. I’ve leaned towards chats in the field while students are collecting data. The conversations give me a good understanding of student progress but I don’t think it pushed student thinking far enough. (No kidding – they were focused on data collection and I was a distraction). Towards the end this year, I scheduled 10 minute sit-downs. The questions poured out and directed conversations about ideas and observations took place.
- Quarterly PechaKucha-style presentations. Scale down the time frame but have students give quick, interactive project updates.
- Keep sharing – students need to talk and share their ideas a lot more.