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.