Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January Post

My inquiry group is called the Strategizer Bunnies, and we are focusing our learning on the thinking strategies.  Our beautiful question is:  How do we encourage kids to naturally use the thinking strategy vocabulary throughout all content areas?

I brought my students map inquiry folders to PLC on Friday.  Last week we were in the thick of researching our map questions and facts.  The students were having guided groups with me around their own inquiry questions.  While they were not meeting with me, the students were discovering their own facts about maps (these did not have to revolve around their question) or marking any questions or wonderings they were having (using sticky notes in books).  At the end of the morning we would share something new we learned and share questions we had and an expert in the classroom (sometimes me and sometimes another student) try to answer the questions.  Today we are  in the final product stage/going public.  The students are creating wonder bubbles to share their learning.  The students will then present them to small peer groups.

I THINK (really know) I know that my student and I are using the thinking strategies all day long.  What PUZZLES me is using the language throughout all content areas and classroom rituals/routines  naturally.  I don't want the thinking strategies to be "token" words I use randomly.  If I am going to use them I want to commit to them and use them throughout the day.  I believe that if I am using them naturally throughout the day, my kindergarten students will begin to experiment with the words and also use them (eventually using them correctly).  I also struggle with using them naturally.  Right now I am not totally comfortable with them so it feels unnatural.  I want it to be a natural part of my vernacular throughout the day.  I have been EXPLORING with mainly the language in my classroom.  I started towards the beginning of the year to teach each thinking strategy explicitly.  In my class you can find a huge anchor chart with each thinking strategy with a definition and visual cue to help the students remember what it means.  This process took the first half of the year.  Now I am TRYING to use all the language throughout the day.  I check for understanding and remind students of the vocabulary by using the anchor charts when needed.  Also part of my EXPLORE is observing other classrooms.  I am just listening for more examples of natural use of the language by teachers and, of course, it is always amazing to hear the students using it naturally.

1 comment:

  1. Jackie, I love the work you are doing in Kindergarten with Inquiry! I think it is so brave to jump in and muddle through right along with the kiddos... and look at the payoff! Amazing what these little guys, with 5-6 years of experience on earth, can come up with!! I get your puzzle with making the thinking strategy vocabulary part of your regular vernacular. I am still making the shift myself, and often times self-correct out loud: "use your background knowledge... um... schema...." I guess that is just modeling for the kids that we adults, too, have to shift our own thinking sometimes... or, um... synthesize our new learning. :) Just remember not to get frustrated if you don't hear the transference right away. Sometimes it takes LOTS of time before kiddos approximate or successfully use what we are modeling. But I have no doubt the payoff will be great and that you will get a chance to see it in action!