Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Smith / Willett 2nd Grade: Chalk-Talk

Smith / Willett        2nd Grade
Thinking Routine:   Chalk-Talk with Non-Fiction Unit
Connect:  CHALK TALK involves looking at the topic or question written on the chart paper and involves kids in the thinking questions below:
·         What ideas come to mind when you consider this idea, question, or problem?
·         What connections can you make to others’ responses?
·         What questions arise as you think about the ideas and consider the responses and comments of others?
Often, as teachers we instruct but rarely ask the kids why they think we should learn the material being presented.  This routine offers up a safe environment for kids to express their thoughts.
The purpose of this routine is to ask students to think about ideas, questions, or problems by silently responding in writing both to the prompt and to the thoughts of others.  All students can participate in the open-ended and exploratory nature of the routine.
What I did:
Kids were presented with the Chalk Talk question, “Why Study Non-Fiction?”  Kids were asked to think about that question for about 5 minutes and write some of their thinking down in their personal notebooks.  Then kids were asked to choose one thinking to write down on a sticky note and place that on the chart paper along with their name.

Once kids finished placing their notes on the chart, I called them over in small groups of 6 to go over what they wrote in a small contained setting and asked kids to give each student speaking 1 connection thought, 1 compliment, or 1 question in regards to the student’s note.  This way, it makes room for all learners to have a voice and makes learning visible by focusing on reactions, connections, and questions.
CHALK TALK can be used to encourage reflective thinking.   The next day, we met as a whole group and I went over what was written and shared regarding our guiding question of, “Why study Non-Fiction.”  I noticed that a large amount of kids wrote about being prepared for 3rd grade.  I wanted to make sure to address those thoughts with a deeper intention on why we teach NF in 2nd grade and it is not just to get kids ready for 3rd.  After having the discussion, I had kids write in their personal notebooks on how their thinking might have changed from the day before and what they would write today about our guiding question.

Smith / Willett Sentence-Phrase-Word with Leaf Creatures and Sensory Word Exploration

Smith / Willett        2nd Grade
Thinking Routine:   Sentence-Phrase-Word Using Leaf-Creatures and Sensory Words
Connect:  “Sentence-Phrase-Word,” is a routine that is text based and used for capturing the essence of the reading as well as identifying themes.  Kids were deeply involved in sensory word exploration and how to use words to enhance their writing.  I took an activity that was initially just a creative experience and took it to a new level with adding in the Sentence-Phrase-Word routine established with the Non-Fiction project.  It was a great synthesis idea as well as extension to meet my own best practices.  In studying Making Thinking Visible, we were taught to tweak the routines to make it meaningful for your methodology.  I took that to heart this time and had a great turnout.
What I did:
Kids were given a blue sensory words sheet that showed through icons and lists words that meet the categories of see, taste, touch, hear, and smell.  Kids were also given a variety of leaves in differing color, shape, size, and texture to investigate using scientific investigative language taught in both Literacy and Science content areas.  Kids made a list of words that applied to each set of leaves.  Then kids were given a creative opportunity to create a picture of a living creature using only the leaves.  Kids worked independently on this activity and each created a living creature by gluing the leaves onto paper and using some extra tissue paper and markers to help complete the picture.  Then kids were asked to use the blue sensory word sheet and their list from the earlier investigation to create Sentence-Phrase-Word collages on the art created.  Words chosen should be representative of the creature created. 

Once kids finished the activity and labeling work, I laminated the art to keep the leaves in place.  The kids were given the laminated art and were able to share among their table mates and discuss their creature, their words, their sentences, and their phrases and what they learned in the process. 

I think using the Sentence-Phrase-Word routine was a great way to incorporate language exploration in a fun art activity that involved an extreme level of deeper thought and planning.  Kids had to make conscious choices the entire length of the activity and had a good amount of ownership in the product and word choice.  I would love to have kids challenge this activity in the future by putting a star next to words or phrases that really jumped out to them as an important part of the creature.
This student was new to English language learning and was just developing his speaking, listening, and writing skills.  This project was a great way to help him with language development.

Smith / Willett 2nd Grade Sentence-Phrase-Word Thinking Routine

Smith / Willett        2nd Grade
Thinking Routine:   Sentence-Phrase-Word
Connect:  “Sentence-Phrase-Word,” is a routine that is text based and used for capturing the essence of the reading as well as identifying themes.  Kids were deeply engrossed in their Non-Fiction research projects and were reading a ton of NF informative articles based on a topic of interest chosen individually.  The kids were in the technical aspect of learning and were digging through information they could use to help them answer their essential questions for their project.  Having a ton of information at the forefront of the mind for weeks upon weeks, I decided to try to mix things up a bit by using the Sentence-Phrase-Word thinking routine.  I thought it would really define the core information each child was gaining from their research.  It was a great synthesis idea as well as evaluative for me as an educator.
What I did:
Kids were given about a week to investigate NF text articles based on a specific topic of interest.  They spent time reading, evaluating, and coding tracks of their thinking on sticky notes inside the articles.  They shared some of their learnings and discoveries with peers in the class throughout the week.  Then, I had the kids come together as a group and asked them to draw a picture of something that really excites them about their topic. After the drawings were completed, students were asked to identify:   a sentence that is meaningful to them or captures the heart of the reading; a phrase that spoke to them in some way; or a word that captured their attention or was powerful in some way or that connects the picture to the writing and the readings done prior.  The power of this routine is in the justification, either through writing or discussion, about why the children chose the way they did.  Kids placed the sticky notes on the back of their drawing and shared their thoughts with kids at their working tables.  Kids described their pictures and why they chose the details in their drawings as well as shared their S-P-W.  It was a very insightful thinking activity that allowed me as an educator to evaluate how the NF research was going for the kids and which kids might need some extra instruction.  I could also collaborate with my partner teacher to have the kids practice this same routine in the weekly Scholastic News in Science and Social Studies.

Student's word choice

Student's thoughts on why he chose his drawing and why he connected his word / phrase.


After the initial activity with the S-P-W, I thought it would be a great idea to have the kids do another drawing at the end of the NF research project to see how their thinking might have changed.  The kids worked on their drawings with the instruction of “Show your thoughts through careful picture choices and details in order to connect with your new S-P-W.  I decided to use both pictures and writings as the front and back covers to the kids’ projects.  Interestingly enough, most of the kids showed dramatically deeper level thinking when it came to the pictures and thoughts.  Kids skills increased and their meaningful connections were extremely strong the 2nd time around.

I think this routine was a creative way to include art and thought into one activity.  Students struggled at first with the thought behind their choices, but over time they began to use words like:  "When I read this part I was worried..." or "This word excites me because..." or "This phrase makes me think... or What I learned most was… or Something important about my research was…"  I plan on considering using this routine to deepen comprehension for read alouds, content area reading, as well as fiction and even poetry.
I added another spin on this activity using leaf art created by the students and had them include the S-P-W on the front of the art to help connect to this routine on a higher level with a lot of choice words instead of just one. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Smith / Willett        2nd Grade
Thinking Routine:   Zoom In
Connect:  “Zoom In,” is one way of introducing a topic using portions of a photograph or picture to draw student thinking out.  It uses description, inference and interpretation at the start of a lesson or to further explore ideas.   This was one of the first routines I chose to try with the kids in order to help them connect to something known on a much deeper level.  Students would need to activate prior knowledge and prior vocabulary and connect them to new skills gained with practicing sensory word usage and identification as well as new scientific exploration vocabulary.  This routine was going to help make a solid link between the Literacy content and Science content.
What I did:
   Prior to the lesson I carefully selected some photos of things I found in my house that would be a familiar item to the kids, but would have a solid “Zoom In” quality about them when the picture was taken in a specific way.  I wanted the kids to struggle with what the item could be and really activate their deeper level thinking skills to try to figure out what the picture is showing them, what can they access in their background knowledge to help them, and what new words learned either in Science or Literacy could help them in describing the picture and eventually figuring out the item I wanted to reveal.  I chose a clock, a 10 lb. weight, and a running shoe.  I took zoomed in pictures of each and then a zoomed out picture of each.  I also wrote clues for each item using specific sensory vocabulary to help the kids try to figure out the item.  The picture was shown first, then the kids could guess, then I would reveal one clue, then another, and another, till eventually showing the last clue.  Kids would write their guess on a post it note to discuss with a peer. 
Peers would use the Accountable Talk questions such as: 
     What Makes You Say That?
     Say More About That
     Do You Agree or Disagree
     What Makes You Say That
Once each peer showed their post it, I revealed the zoomed out picture.  I was conscious about leaving the central figure to be shown last as we wanted students to spend "think time" posing their theories about what the image was and how it made them feel. After each piece was reveled we asked them if their thinking about the image had changed. 

Zoom In:  The hands of a clock shown to students during mini-                                                                        lesson                                                                                                                    
Example Clue: “I spin around and around and never stop.”

Zoom In:  The number 10 on a dumbell shown during mini-lesson
       Example Clue:  “I can go up and down when you move me.”

After doing this mini-lesson on the “Zoom In” images, I thought it would be a great idea to integrate the DPS curriculum writing lesson on artifacts with this routine.  Instead of the kids just writing about their artifact, I had them do their own Zoom In pictures of their artifact and write their own clues.  Kids got to choose where the camera image was taken on their artifact item.  I wanted the kids to have the power of choice and to be able to evaluate whether or not their picture image was a true “Zoom In” or not and what choices they would make differently if they could do this again.  The kids also participated in a full-image picture of them with their artifact item.  We stapled the picture of the full image and a label on the back of the zoomed in image and clue writing.  The “Zoom In” work was placed in the hallway and post it notes were provided for other kids and adults to come by and write their guess on the item and place it on the child’s work.  Kids loved this interactive writing activity and would check daily to see who was guessing on their item and if they got it right.

Student-chosen front zoomed image of the helmet with student clue writing, a student response from another grade level, and the back picture of the student with his helmet and label.  Student reflected on the activity and told me he would have chosen to just zoom in on the holes on the helmet to make it harder to guess next time. 

Student used sensory words and clues to describe the item and chose to zoom in on the knot on the front of the bow. 

He liked his picture
and thought that his clues should have included more words to help people guess his item because it was a harder zoom image.

I think this routine was a great way to integrate two content areas and I would like to integrate that more in my curriculum choices next year.  It would be a great idea to incorporate the Zoom In routine when Science is doing the Plant Unit and I am doing Poetry.  We could use the camera again and create zoomed images of plants and create poetry clues to go along with them.  It would be a much deeper level writing and thinking activity for the kids after having the experience with the artifacts early on.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

See-Think-Wonder:  Main Idea- Learned- Wonder. 
Connect:    Used as a Thinking Routine for reading periodicals such as Weekly Scholastic News     
I was looking for a routine to get the students to do more than just read their Scholastic News.  I wanted them to look critically at the information and become deeper level thinkers.  Initially I used the See-Think-Wonder Routine hoping that it would give them a strategy to use each week.  I wanted them to know that they were going to be accountable for the information in their periodical.   See-Think-Wonder did not quite fit the bill.  Some entries looked like this: I see a picture- I think it is cute- I wonder if the artist made more pictures.   Not exactly what I was looking for.  I was about to abandon this routine until I had a conversation with one of my teammates and she told me how she had changed the routine to fit the activity.
What I did:  This is the adapted routine I call Main Idea-Learned-Wonder.   Each week the 2nd graders get a Scholastic News.  Half of the students get one edition and the other half gets a different edition.  I give them 10 minutes to read silently.  Then I pass out post-it notes to each table.  The students know that they are to write 3 entries to post on the chart paper for their topic. The three posts include Main Idea, I learned and Wonderings.    They are to write in complete sentences, use correct conventions and write legibly.  Then I pair them up with a student that had a different magazine and they share their post with each other for about 7 minutes.  It is a bit like a jig-saw routine.  Then we come back together as a group and spend another 10 minutes reading over the posts. 
At a separate time, I show the digital version of each newspaper to the whole group.  We all get a chance to read the newspaper, watch the accompanying video and answer the game questions together.    In the past, Scholastic News was sometimes used as more of a filler.    Now it is used as an important learning tool.

Extend:  What I like about this routine is that now the students know exactly what is expected from them and they are meeting the expectations.  I’ve seen their thinking become much more sophisticated over the weeks as they have seen what their peers have written and made evaluations about the entries.   I see them using this strategy seamlessly with other content area reading assignments.   
Challenge:  The challenge with all these routines is getting students to internalize them and use them in other contexts in or out of class.   If my goal is getting students to become thinkers, then that is a skill that should cross all content areas and become a part of who they are as human beings.    These are fun and routine, but I want students to see them as tools to navigate through life.   In the information age, we need to be able to question, prioritize, evaluate and synthesize all the material we are presented with each day.   

Willett/Smith      Tug of War:  Used with Flat Stanley Project

Connect:  Second graders tend to be very literal.  They are looking for the right answer.  We have had great conversations about different ways to look at or approach a situation, then at the end of the discussion I will hear someone say, “Yes, but what is it the right answer?”   I wanted to find a routine that we could use on a regular basis that would encourage my students to look deeply at a dilemma or topic, consider the different sides of the issue and use this information to form an opinion based on sound reasoning and informed thought. 
The purpose of Tug of War is to show a visual representation of thinking or exploring an issue or idea that presents a dilemma or idea that can be considered from multiple perspectives.    It encourages students to take a stand and be able to support their stance with sound reasoning.   It introduces the students to an understanding of the deeper complexities of decisions that are made that impact our every day in life.

What I did:  The book Flat Stanley written by Jeff Brown is about a boy named Stanley Lambchop.  One night while he is sleeping a bulletin board falls on him and in the morning he discovers that he is flat.    The author tells us about Stanley’s many adventures, some good and some not so good.    As one of our Social Studies Units, I read the book to the class and then we participated in the Flat Stanley Project.  We discussed the kinds of activities that Stanley could do that we aren’t able to do, such as fly like a kite and get mailed to another state in an envelope.  We also considered the problems that it caused him such as needing new clothes and being teased by others.  
 I wanted to introduce a strategy for making informed choices, so I used the Tug of War Routine as a strategy to make our thinking visible and record our thoughts.   After reading the book and discussing the events in the story we asked the question,  “Is it better to be round like we are or would it be better to be flat like Stanley?”  Each student wrote their choice on a post-it note.   I gave them the sentence stem I choose-----because-----.   Students were instructed to give sound reasons for their choice.  I reminded students that a tug of war is a game where participants hold on to opposite ends of a rope and then try to pull the rope closer to their side.   I told them that we will use a similar activity, but we were going to tug the rope with our thinking.   I created a two sided chart and across the top I strung a rope with a paper flag in the middle.   Students could vote for being flat like Stanley or choose being 3d like typical students.  In order to post their note on either side, they had to give sound reasons for their choice.   As they read their note and posted their choice on the chart,  they got to literally tug on the rope.  We watched the little red flag go back and forth across the paper.   Students were cheering for their side just like you might do during a real tug of war.  Any time second graders can actively participate in something, it has more meaning for them.    They had fun and the activity made them think more deeply about the story and how decisions impact our lives.    

Extend:  The Flat Stanley question was a great way to introduce the Tug of War Routine.   However, although enjoyable, this topic didn’t accomplish my goal of helping students to realize that there are important decisions being made that impact their lives.   I want them to understand, care about and make their voices heard in decisions that are important to them.  My next steps are to look for opportunities within our curriculum or community to use this routine for more relevant topics.    I’ve decided to use this routine for several topics including a discussion about our school’s plan to implement a policy of students bein required to wear uniforms for the next school year.  We will use this routine to think about the pros and cons of this decision.   

Challenge:  I used this routine last year when our class was faced with a decision about whether we should get another fish or not.  Some students thought our one fish was lonely and we should get more fish.  Some students thought that new fish would attack the one that was left.   There were definitely two opposing camps and both sides cared passionately about the outcome.    I thought it was a great way for both side to have their concerns heard and be more accepting of the final decision.  This routine worked perfectly and I wanted to add it to my list of go to thinking routines.
However, my dilemma is determining appropriate content for use of this routine in a 2nd grade classroom.  .   There are many obvious topics that come to mind such as fracking, gmo’s, fiscal cliff…  However, I am looking for topics that are specifically important to 2nd graders.  I am also looking for ways to incorporate this routine into my math lessons.   I feel that developing the ability to look at an issue, topic or problem from multiple perspectives and make informed decision is a critical skill for life.

Willett/ Smith

Thinking Routine:   Headlines

Connect:  Headlines is a thinking routine that can be used to help students focus on the big ideas or important themes in what you have been learning.   Headline routines call for synthesis of all the learning that took place.  It can be useful at the end of a unit of study or after a single activity such as a field trip, reading a book, or watching a movie.   To set up the routine after a learning experience, the teacher asks the students to write a short headline for the study that captures important ideas and summarizes the learning that took place.   Ask students to think about the core, central ideas that are at the heart of the learning.   We successfully used this routine after a Field Trip to the Botanic Gardens on Plant Day.

What I did:

Each year the Botanic Gardens present a series of plant day exploration field trips for students from schools around the metro area.  The staff at the Gardens set up 11 different learning stations where students get to try hands-on activities.   As the study of plants is one of the 2nd grade Tracks Science Units of Study and this activity aligns perfectly with our standards, we try to participate every year.  It is only available a few days a year and we have to sign up for it well in advance.   This year we were scheduled to attend on April 18th, the day after one of our big April snowstorms.  It turned out to be an amazing day!  The information stations were relocated inside the Mitchell Building so we did not have to contend with the snow and cold temperatures that were outside.   By mid- morning most small groups had completed their rounds at the stations and the temperatures outside had warmed up to tolerable levels.  We were able to walk around the mostly snow covered grounds.   The sun and snow created a beautiful, picture postcard Colorado scene with glistening white snow blanketing the plants that were just peeking their heads out of the ground, ice covered ponds and snowy puffs perched on the tree branches.    

When we returned from the Field Trip, we were looking for a way to sum up the experiences of the day.    We gathered students on the rug for a de-briefing.   They were all feeling very excited about what they had learned at the informative stations.  Each person got a chance to talk about what they learned and which stations they enjoyed the most.   Most students agreed that the treasure hunt for food items in the conservatory, the interactive biosphere exhibit, seed sorting and of course, the pea seed planting station made a lasting impression.  After everyone got a turn to share, I reminded the students of the Headlines Routine that we had used before and instructed them that we were going to use this routine to summarize and record our thinking about the big ideas and important learning that had happened during our field trip.  Because we had done this routine before, I had to give a just a quick model and explanation of what a headline is and how it is used as a text feature.   The students were given a rough draft paper and a piece of sentence strip for the final version.   They were able to share and try out their ideas with their teammates at their table.   When they were satisfied with their idea, they wrote and illustrated it on a sentence strip.  We collected and assembled their headlines to create a giant poster.   All together it shows a complete picture of the day, including poisonous dart frogs.  The posters record the students thinking and will help to remind them of what we learned.


This routine worked beautifully as a way to synthesize all the learning that took place on our field trip to the Botanic Gardens.  Some students addressed small moments of the day and others capsulized the whole event in their headline.   The combination of all the Headlines truly gives a complete picture of the field trip.   It helped us to see and record the in depth learning that took place.    I will definitely use this routine over and over to capture the essences of learning events such as field trips, Junior Achievement, assemblies…


I originally tried this routine in October as a way to synthesis information gleaned from Scholastic News.    I was looking for a routine that we could use on a regular basis to get students to read, analyze and make connections to the information in our Weekly Scholastic News Articles.   The October issue was all about Christopher Columbus as an explorer.  The students enjoyed the routine and came up with a variety of thoughtful, clever and summarizing ideas.  It served as an introduction to the routine, but did not fully address what I was trying to accomplish with the Scholastic News Articles.   I decided use this routine could be used again, but for different purposes. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Think, Puzzle, Explore

Connect: Last year, when I first read the book, I was so excited to try all of the routines.  It was interesting but it didn't develope any routines for the students.  This year, I have concentrated on a few and actually made them into routines for the students. This is a more recent sample, after they have had several other experiences with this routine. I especially like that instead of "What do you know?" , the question is "What do you think you know?" I think that it frees them to think. Two of the students had some experience with this topic, while two did not.  The wording for the first column allows for them to be on equal ground.

Extend:  I have found that as the students are given more experiences to establish a particular routine, the thinking flows more readily.  Their energy and concentration is not on the routine, rather on the thinking. 

Challenge: Personally, my challenge has been to fully exercise the EXPLORE.  I have been interrupted by various testing situations.  Once my classes resume, I have felt that too much time has passed and we should begin our next unit of study.  I will have loaded more, useful apps onto the iPads in order to facilitate their explorations.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Letter to the Editor

Connect - During our evolution I tried a lesson that is not included in the book, but still makes thinking quite visible. Students need to demonstrated that they can support a claim that the theory of evolution is supported with evidence. Their task was to refute an erroneous article claiming that evolution could not have happened.

Extend - This was also a good way to connect to the Common Core Science Standards where students need to communicate their claims with supporting evidence in a written format.

Challenge - I found that many students felt that a written letter is a very informal way of writing.  Many students did not complete requirements of explaining with the forms of evidence meant. Instead they just mentioned the forms of evidence.  Another challenge was grading all 53 of these letters!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Connect: Shannon Umberger and I decided to spice up our Nonfiction Fridays. Instead of doing the Red Light-Yellow Light routine, we decided to try the Headline routine this week.

What I did: Shannon and I got all our students together, and we led them in discussion about what a headline is. I was surprised by how little schema about headlines the students had. We discussed the headlines in a previous week’s Time for Kids. We also had the kids do a turn and talk to brainstorm what a headline would be for the previous day’s fieldtrip. We split the classes up into two groups. This week, all the boys went to my classroom and the girls went to Shannon’s room. From there, we let them pick partners or triads and they read the week’s issue of Time for Kids. Their job was to come up with a new headline that could be used on the cover of the issue.

Extend: I can see a definite connection between being able to determine the main idea of an article and this routine, and I plan on using it more.

I was quite unimpressed with the majority of the responses from the boys (the girls in Shannon’s room had much better results). Most of the boys just made mild adaptations to the existing headline. I do think, however, that with more instruction they could become much better at this.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Step Inside

Jamie and I used this routine called, "Step Inside" as a culminating activity following the kids' study of Native Americans.  We wanted them to produce a piece of writing, but wanted it to be fairly straight forward because we are still only part way through our study of Colorado History.  This was an excellent choice that Sarah Gasamis had used with her students.

What I did:  Prior to this routine, students had done the routine, "I used to think, Now I think" to tap into their prior knowledge.  They explored pictures of Native American culture and did a "See, Think, Wonder."  And they studied images and text on a website called Doing History and took notes on what they read.  Now, students were asked to think like they were Native American.   They wrote, "I am" and could make up their own Native American Name.  They indicated where they lived, then answered the following prompts:
  • What do I see, observe, notice?
  • What do I know, understand, hold true or believe?
  • What do I care deeply about?
  • What do I wonder or question?
They wrote in the form of a narrative and were given a checklist of what good writing should look like.  They could add an illustration when their writing was complete.

Connect:  I would connect this to other failed attempts to have students meaningfully reflect on their learning in writing.  Something about this routine worked for kids.  I was so impressed with the depth of students' writing.  Students wrote very touching work that indicated that their research helped them to come to a better understanding of Native Americans in Colorado.  One of the topics that students had no prior knowledge about was reservations.  After doing the research, many students chose to write about life on the reservation.  Their writing indicated that they had a much better understanding of what it must have been like for a Native American to be forced to move on to a reservation.

Extend:   I am anxious to use this routine again, and in other contexts.  I think that if we continue to use this routine for other aspects of Colorado History, it could be put together as a larger project to show students' understanding of the whole unit.  Our plan is to have students do a research project on a person, place or event in Colorado.  I could see a student taking this writing and expanding it into a research project on Native American communities, reservation life, or food, clothing and shelter.

Challenge:  I think the challenge is always how to keep this routine meaningful.  I agree that it is important to make these into routines so that the understanding can go deeper, but I think the challenge is that students will often cruise through a routine like this one because they perceive that it is too easy, or they will do similar work that they did previously, or they simply get bored with it.


See Think Wonder (Farms)

Connect: Once again, I chose the See Think Wonder routine as a way to introduce our Unit on Farms because it seems the most developmentally appropriate routine for preschool age children. We used to use KWL charts but the thinking and wondering aspect of this routine seems more valuable because it makes their thinking transparent. They begin to understand how their thinking works and how it is valued. It's also incredibly important for them to understand that their learning is driven by their wonderings.

Extend: While we have continued to use this routine so that it becomes exactly that...routine, I changed what was being presented to the children. Instead of using pictures like I had in several other cases, this time we did the routine as part of an introductory inquiry circle using realia and actual farm products.

What I did: This time I used the routine to help introduce our unit on farming. Some of the big ideas for this unit are farms are places where we grow things that help us survive and also there are different types of farms that produce different types of products. In my inquiry circle, there were pictures of different types of farm and equipment and everything from pretend egg to a milk carton, honey, flowers, fruits, veggies, sugar, flour, bread and a cotton shirt. The children sat around the items and I asked them to share exactly what they saw and then what it made them think and wonder. Many children immediately stated they thought these were all things you find at home or buy at a store. At this point in the unit, they did not particularly connect that all of these things came from farms but they were able to connect certain products like honey or milk to the animals that produce them.One child was able to share the basic process of how milk comes from the cow and then is put in a carton to go to the store. Most of the wonderings were where these things came from. One child even pondered how veggies were canned. One picture of a cotton farm generated many wonderings. First they wondered what in fact the white stuff was. Most thought it snow. They also wondered if it snows on farms opening a whole study on seasons and how seasons affect farms and what is grown on them. I could not have scripted the inquiry circle better to help drive what I believe will be a very rich unit for learning. I hope to repeatedly go back to this chart to remind them what they asked and help propel the lessons forward in this unit.

Challenges: The challenge during this lesson was to record everything coming out of their mouths. Because I had so many items for them to look at on the floor, they were excited to jump in and share and we could not keep up with the writing on the chart. In retrospect, it probably would have made sense to record this lesson and then write it on a chart later rather than try to keep up with the writing at the time. As a result, I think we missed a lot of the discussion. Overall however, I was incredibly impressed with what the children had to say. They clearly had a better idea of how the routine worked because we had now done it several times and I modeled my thinking of the difference between what they think and what they wonder. There were also so many items for them to think and wonder about, it generated a great deal of discussion. My plan is to go back to the chart and review their wonderings as we progress through the unit so they remember what those wonderings were and see how their questions drive what they are learning.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


What I Did: I showed my classes a picture of the indoor tropical exhibit at the gardens without comment. I asked them to share first what they see, then what they think, and finally what they wonder. With my morning class, I then had the students write their thoughts on a worksheet, with a spot for “What did I learn?” that they will fill out after the fieldtrip. Lacy Smith and I got our afternoon classes together for this routine. After sharing out loud, the students each wrote what they saw, thought, and wondered on stickies and put them on appropriate charts.

Extend: Although this routine is pretty simple, I the students were so into it! I loved that it required them to look at a new image in three different ways. Some of the responses, like “I wonder if they have to water in there or if the water cycle does it naturally?” impressed me. Other responses, like "I think this is at the Botanic Gardens” were less impressive, although still valid. Next time, if I add a learn section again, I will make sure the students connect it to their thoughts or wonderings.

Challenge: This routine, specifically the wondering part, made me think of the wondering part of the weekly Red-Yellow Light routine Mrs. Umberger and I do weekly. Some of the responses were very surface. I think with more time and instruction, the students would be able to express deeper wonderings.