Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Explanation Game - Reduce Reuse Recycle

After using this thinking routine in our last study on clothes, the ECE team concluded this was a meaningful routine worth trying again for our upcoming unit on Reduce Reuse Recycle. However, whereas in the clothes study we used the explanation game at the end of our study to determine understandings of the purpose of clothes, I felt the picture we had chosen for our Reduce Reuse Recycle Study lended itself better within the study to focus on our essential question...How does trash and garbage affect our community?

What I did:
I first asked my students to look at a photograph of a garbage truck dumping trash at the dump.

I then asked them not to speak and to only look at the picture for a minute. Only then did I ask them to share what they saw. As expected, they listed items. What I found interesting however is the detail they found. They saw the whole picture and noticed things I had not necessarily thought individual parts of the truck. I was so focused on the trash and the big ideas, I expected this is what they would focus on as well. But they saw so much more. They even commented on what they didn't see which I also thought compelling. This happened right away when a child mentioned there were not any trees. This was a great noticing and comment on which to transition into what they were thinking and for their explanations.
I then asked them to make comments and/or explanations. We talked for a good 25 minutes before they finally began to dig deeper about the water and the birds. We had struggled a bit to go beyond what they were seeing. However, when I asked them to use their 5 senses and imagine they were there...what then? Well this sparked a great deal of conversation around it smelling, being dirty, disgusting and unhealthy for us which then led to explanations about the birds and how birds would also not want to be there.

I'm not sure why it always surprises me...but once again "wait time" is a big aha. The children spent a great deal of time looking at this picture...much more than I would have expected for 4 year olds. As a result, we cracked some deeper level thinking that only came in the last few mintues of our discussion. I admit I was frustrated and discouraged thinking they would only scratch surface observations. However with some guidance and support considering their limited background schema, they discovered and discussed so much more finally making those bigger conections. In some ways, I felt like I was cheating by intervening with questioning. In the end though I think it proved the right way to go since they gained so much more as a result. For young children who are still so egocentric, this turned out to be critical because it activated their schema and allowed them to make personal connections. I was impressed by their ability to go beyond themselves and consider the wider impacts of garbage on our community and other living things. So that extra time and further questioning turned out to be a good thing leading us back to our essential question and understanding.

As we have gone further into how garbage can affect our community, we have refered back to this photograph several times. I definitely think they now have a better understanding of the negative impact of trash on our community as a result of this picture and discussion.
In the past, we have used the See Think Wonder most frequently. However what I found more useful about the Explanation game is its flexibility. Considering our youngest students have a challenging time deciphering between thinking and wondering, this routine doesn't distinguish. It allows the discussion to flow. Children share their noticings and then dig deeper to share their explanations. The conversation in the end has more freedom and therefore feels more genuine as opposed to the See Think Wonder where I am trying to fit their comments into specific sections.

No comments:

Post a Comment