A Place of Wonder

Jun 16, 2014 | by Janice Smith

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In thinking about student investment, I love thinking about the 3R’s, and the role they each play.  They originally came from the International Center for Leadership in Education in 1997, and last week’s Video of the Week featuring Brett Noble did a great job of discussing pieces the rigor piece (specifically thinking about how much of the work our students are doing).  So this week I’m excited to continue thinking about investment, but this time moving to the second R: Relevance.  Take a look at what Keith Starr, Dean of Instruction at KIPP Pride High School has to say on relevance in his High School Physics classroom, and then stay tuned for a great lower elementary example of it in action.

We love how Ketih builds on what Brett had to say last week, thinking more about the importance of genuine application.  Do our kids know why they’re learning what they’re learning?  Do they understand the context around the content?  That others around the country (and world) at all levels are still asking themselves the same questions and working towards finding the answers in the same ways they are?  That some questions don’t have a definitive answer, and require constant thought and reflection?  All of these things make the content more engaging, and help to invest students in both the immediate lesson as well as the long-term impact.

So this is all great in theory.  And for each of our classes we can think about what this can and should look like.  But I can’t resist sharing at least one example of a teacher who does this really well with some of our youngest scholars.  Ms. Trapani is an incredible second grade teacher at Maureen Joy Charter School, and one of her big goals for her students is generating a love of reading.  Here we see how she uses their interests and curiosity to help build that context, and encourage independent exploration of topics that are of interest to them.  Take a look…

Ms. Trapani acknowledges in this clip the reality that there’s never enough time to answer all the questions her students have, but also understands that these questions are a window into their interests.  So she builds a physical space to collect them, sending the message to students that 1) asking questions is important, and 2) she cares what it is that is most interesting to each of them.  From there she builds time into their weeks in which they can explore the topics and answers in their own book groups, encouraging the curiosity and empowering them to use books and reading as a tool to learn independently.

We would love to hear more examples of how you do this in your classrooms at all grade levels and in all content areas!



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