Sunday, March 10, 2013
Connect: In ECE, I am trying to use the See Think Wonder Chart as a basis for starting every unit with my students. It is very developmentally appropriate for this age group as a way to document their thinking and drive deeper level thinking. My hope was that by showing the children pictures with items they were familiar with, they would make their own connections.
What I did: To start our unit on Winter, I selected 2 pictures and my para and I each worked a group on our own separate charts. The first picture is of a person walking down the street with a shovel; the other a person walking on the sidewalk with a sled. The big idea was to hopefully get the children to recognize the pros and cons of winter. Shoveling is hard work while sledding is fun. Winter brings both challenge and great fun all in one. The "See" part went smoothly as the children labeled what they say in the picture. The "Think" and "Wonder" parts of the routine were more difficult because I think my children struggled between the difference in the "think" and the "wonder" part.
Extend: My goal using the routine this way was to try to introduce a unit beyond just reading a book about winter and asking teacher directed questions about what they think about winter. I wanted to use the pictures to see if they would come to these pros and cons about winter on their own.
Challenges: Honestly, I found this lesson disappointing. The children were so literal in what they saw and had difficulty thinking and wondering beyond..."I think he is going to shovel the street" or "I wonder if she went sledding". One child even thought the person was going to find a bear. We did however have a deep conversation after one child said "I think he is going to the beach." Another child responded by saying, "That's impossible". When I asked him to explain his thinking he shared that the beach is too far away to walk. We then talked about how the beach is somewhere where it is warm and if the person is in snow that must mean it is winter and they are faraway from a warm place. In the end, what seemed like a rather silly comment turned out to provoke the deepest thought. I also realize I may have actually learned more about the routine because of how poorly it went. It was a lesson for me for several reasons. One is that I now remind myself these routines are to be used as guides rather than rigid structures. I need to be flexible and not be so hard on myself when it doesn't turn out the way I expect. Perhaps these routines are best approached not predicting the outcome. The importance is in the process. Also, the items or photographs presented are probably best when more ambiguous. Preschool age children are so literal and because this is still a fairly new routine for us, it was hard for them to move beyond the obvious. I had also enlarged the photos too much and believe the fuzziness made it hard for them to see the actual item each person was handling. Next time I will try to be more intentional and careful with the photos or items I choose.
Color - symbol - Image
Connect - I attempted this thinking strategy with eighth graders during our chemistry unit. We had previously learned about the structure of an atom and were ready to study the elements in the periodic table. I like to use a lesson called "adopt an element" to have students make connection to an element and a use in their everyday life. I modified this lessons to include "color, symbol, and image."
Extend- For the symbol part, I asked students to use the standard symbol that they would find on the periodic table, which includes the abbreviation, atomic number, and atomic mass. For color, I asked students to come up with a color that is reflective of that symbol. I encourage students to challenge their thinking and not be so literal. For example, most elements are metals, and was hoping that they would not simply use gray or silver for their color. Then I asked students to draw an image reflective of their element. To take their thinking a step further, I asked students to come up with a slogan about their element.
Challenge - I was overall a little disappointed with the results of this lesson. I was expecting students to stretch their thinking and turn in some amazing stuff. Most students chose to be literal with their color choices- grey and silver for metals, "clear" color for gases. The images produced were more literal than I was hoping - like a drawing of a chunk of metal, rather than its applications. There were some students, however, that produced some surprising results. One example, shown above, was exactly what I was looking for. His element is radon, a clear toxic gas. He chose the color red to symbolize danger and drew an image of person with lung cancer. His slogan was spot on too, and it actually rhymed: Radon is a radioactive gas in the fresh air. But be aware in can also cause lung cancer, so be aware. I will use this as an exemplar for future years.