I blogged the other day about my #oneword2018 briefly talking about why I want curiosity to be my guide this year.
This whole curiosity topic has been sitting at the back of my mind a lot lately in how I can get my students to branch into the unknown and embrace their own wonderings. This past summer I had the serendipitous encounter with #g2great chats on twitter. I was new to the whole twitter chat and PLN scene. As I reflect back curiosity is what brought me to #g2great. The first chat I was at was honouring and discussing the book that changed my teaching mindset completely the Masterpiece that is Bob Probst and Kylene Beers Disrupting Thinking. Disrupting Thinking is about a lot of things but primarily it is about how we help our students approach what they are reading and what they are doing with the information they encounter. As a new teacher I often would want to try new ideas and was greeted with, “Is that best practice?” or “Well Brent that sounds like a nice idea but I think best practice would say…” These phrases are curiosity killers and you can image I am sure my reaction to this statement that I found in the book, “…if not for a willingness to move from now to next, to wonder what’s beyond yesterday’s best, we’d be stuck.” Without curiosity we would be stuck. That continues to stick out to me as I question and reflect on my daily practice. What am I doing to support my students curiosity about the world around them, how they learn best, what books appeal to them, their favourite way to write? Am I giving them choice or am I holding down the fort of “best practice” and closing the doors on curiosity? With those thoughts fuelling me I have tried to embrace more student Voice and Choice in class, I try to give as much choice as possible and explain when that is not as much of an option (report cards and percentage marks…but we are working on it). I explored student choice with my last assignment around Refugee and I had students explore different ideas they had or ideas they adapted to suggestions I provided. The variety of the work was fun to revisit this morning while I finally entered the classroom before heading back full time next week. Here are a few samples of their work.
If I limited their options and shut down their curiosity on how they could represent their knowledge I would have ended up with 50 papers or 50 dioramas. Instead I had the above, and poetry and songs (shared already and it was AMAZING) a skit and raps still being crafted. Curiosity is the fuel for really cool things.
For myself I have always been curious about the best ways to repair the damage that so many adolescent readers come up for elementary with regarding a passion to read. The scars of “zippy books”, take home reading minute logs, AR tests, mandatory book level reading and all the other best practices gone wrong (some times we know not what we do) really impact a kids desire to dive into a good book. My drive is to figure out how to reverse this damage. I have read awesome books and there are so many out there that help with skills and more that help with reading attitudes and some that look at both. I read these books and my curiosity increases, what strategies are best for my students? What combination is going to work to get those one time readers excited to pick up a book again?
This has lead to my desire to figure it out, I want to dive into good books, embed their teachings into my practice see what sticks and document it. I have a goal for myself to chronicle this learning journey, this pursuit of answers driven by curiosity. I don’t want to just follow what I am told is best practice, I want to discover it for myself, I want to ask questions and I want my students to ask them too. My end goal a book of my own, maybe just on my computer to check back on maybe printed out and stapled in my office and nowhere else but I have an idea and I want to explore it and curiosity is to thank for that. I figure these guys can give me a hand.
As a final note tonight if you happen to read the blog I would love for you to join me and my friends on the #g2great twitter chat discussing our “collective curiosity” we would love to have you. Here are the questions that are coming up at 6:30