Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram
wonder
Bringing Inquiry Into Your Classroom
3 Aug, 2015. 7 Comments. A Day In First Grade, Back to School, First Grade, First Grade Science, Kindergarten, Kindergarten Science, Preschool, Preschool Science. Posted By: Kristen Smith

wonder

This summer I have done a lot of research on bringing inquiry and exploration into my classroom. I have been reading books, articles, and blogs about the Reggio method of teaching and I am so excited to incorporate some of these philosophies and ideals into my day. As many of you know, I love “hands-on activities.” I enjoy teaching my students about the world that they live in and love the excitement and joy that it brings into the classroom.

This year, I want to adjust how I teach my students. As many of these ideas are new to me, I can only share with you what I WANT to do and we will enter this journey together. I am so very excited and can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

Here are some of my ideas and inspirations. I hope that you will join me in some of them!

1. Tackling the Classroom Environment

Like many of you, I have spent a lot of my summer reading blogs, educational books, and looking at Pinterest. This year, I decided that I am moving away from a teacher created learning environment and leaning more in the direction of child co-created environment. This will look a little bit different than most of the pictures on Pinterest and what you see in the hallways of your school but I am EXCITED to start this process. This year, we once again will complete 26 days of “alphabet boot camp.” For this, we teach one letter a day. We follow the sequence of Handwriting Without Tears. This allows us to teach each letter and their formation in a sequence that makes sense to their form.

During this time, my students will also help me in creating a “kid alphabet.” We will display both my “Real Life Alphabet” that I made as well as the one that they create. My students will use a variety of materials to create this project. Each day we will add the new letter to our wall. I am excited to see the beautiful creation that they come up with and share it along the way. My hope is that in giving them ownership of creating the alphabet, they will be more apt to learn their letters and sounds.

I have to give credit where credit is due so I must say this idea comes from a variety of Reggio inspired blogs.

I am hoping our alphabet comes out as beautiful as Joanne’s from http://myclassroomtransformation.blogspot.com. If you have not checked out her blog, you simply must! It is amazing!!

circle

{Click on her picture to get taken to her blog!}

My students will also help me in creating the calendar numbers. You’ll notice that right now, they are blank.

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal-24

This is intentional. Each day, my calendar helper will be in charge of creating the calendar number. They will write the number and draw a picture for the day. I then will scribe three of their favorite things about the day on the underside of the card. (At the end of the day.)This idea came from Fairy Dust Teaching’s blog. 

IMG_4340

Another idea that I came across was also from Joanne’s blog. (Transforming Our Space) In her classroom, Joanne created a space on her wall where students hang their best writing. The pictures on her blog include images of her sweet children with their names on them, so I will let you head over to her blog to check them out. You must go visit the link that I provide so you can see this idea in action. In my classroom, I set up a space for this!

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal-16

During our Meet The Teacher time this Friday I am going to have each of my students write their name on a dry erase board and then hold it while I take their picture. I will then add their pictures to the square that will proudly display their writing throughout the year.

You can see Joanne’s in action here!

2. Instruction

Another aspect of Reggio that I will be adding to my blog this year is including more inquiry-based instruction. What this means is I am going to let my students’ wonders lead our units of study (and the length of them). I (of course) have some units that HAVE to be taught based on standards; however, I am going to allow for more flex time in how long they will last. For example, one of our themes in the first quarter that I already have planned is our “(temperate deciduous) Forest theme.” I currently have two weeks allotted to this unit and have standards that I must teach while we are studying it. However, if my group of students is really into learning about the trees, we will spend more time there. If they are into animal’s homes, we will go down that road. By listening to their wonders and thoughts I will be able to help them explore these topics of interest and set out activities that they can engage in. Also, I will be slower to give an answer and instead, help my students find the answers (with my help). We will create many “I see, I think, I wonder” charts to help us in this process. (I like this better than the K-W-L that I used to use because it encourages the students to really LOOK at a picture or object/Then THINK about that item/ and then verbalize what they WONDER about the item.) Throughout this process my students will get better at writing, reading, making connections, and using scientific inquiry.

A really cool idea from the Reggio method is that the child has 100 languages. There is a poem that goes like this:

The Hundred Languages

No way. The hundred is there.

The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.

A hundred always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.

The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.

They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

-Loris Malaguzzi (translated by Lella Gandini)
Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach

Generally speaking, when I plan an activity, I normally think in terms of ‘is this helping my auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners?’. Now, I am going to add to this in thinking through if I am allowing my students to create in all of their “languages.”

Just look at what some Reggio kids have created when given the opportunity:

blogger-image--2054180248

These students were learning about space and “showed what they learned” in this visual representation. This child is drawing how the Earth orbits the sun. You can read more about this activity here!

(Source:http://mrsmyerskindergarten.blogspot.com/2015/05/our-sky-inquiry.html)

Other Reggio kids have created structures to understand if shadows are always black:

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 7.57.15 AM

(Source: http://reggiokids.blogspot.com/2011/04/is-shadow-always-black.html)

I’m so excited to partake on this aspect of the journey to see where my students will take us this year and also what they create!

3. Documentation

Another aspect of the Reggio method that I will be using this year is the art of documentation. In most Reggio classrooms they document their learning (visually) in the classroom. Teachers display student work, student thoughts, and pictures of them working and thinking to make the learning that is happening in the classroom visual. Teachers also create portfolios for each of their students so that they can add their work to it as the year progresses. Their portfolios include everything from their writing to art to thoughts and scribed conversations. I think parents will love to have a binder of their child’s learning throughout their kinder year! What a great keepsake!

I created a board in my classroom where we will document the learning that is happening in our classroom!

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal-14

To read more about documenting, you can do so here. (These is even a blog post on her site that gives you apps to use throughout the documentation process!! I bookmarked that page! (you can find it here for quick access))

4. Provocations

The last part of the Reggio method that I will incorporate more into our classroom this year is having provocations. A provocation is something set out for students to engage with. It is an invitation for the child to look closer and to use without a desired outcome. I started doing this last year and it truly was a great way for my students to explore.

The first provocation that I have set up in my classroom is a still life. I want to teach my students that they can look closer at objects and create representations of these objects in a variety of ways. As this is our first one, I have colored pencils set out. However, as the year progress, I will add water colors, acrylic paints, clay, and other items.

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal-2
Kindergarten Classroom Reveal-3

Last year, here are two examples of provocations that I set out. The first one was during our color mixing unit and the other one was during our rocks and minerals unit.

A Day In First Grade-60Hands-on kindergarten lessons-64

You might be asking yourself… when are you going to have time to do all of this?! Haha– great question!! I set aside 45 minutes of uninterrupted exploration at the end of every day in my classroom. I am going to use this time to dig deep into my student’s inquiries and wonders and also, of course, integrate them in throughout our day!

If you were interested in seeing more of my classroom set up for this year, here is a quick video that I created to give you a feel for how everything is set up! I am going to try to add more videos as the year progresses!

Enjoy! :)

Related Post

Tags:
, , ,
7 Comments
  1. I love following your blog. I started adding Reggio inspired activities to my classroom two years ago. It will be exciting to watch you incorporate this into your classroom. Thank you for sharing!!

  2. Our school also uses HWT and we love it! Do you introduce both the upper case and lower case letters on the same day since you do letter bootcamp? I would love to see your curriculum map. Letter sounds, word families, etc. I have a major as a Reading Specialist and love your Guided Reading and Math units. I have everything printed, just have to laminate!

  3. SueG -

    I am curious when you set up your provocations for the 45 mins do all the students go to the table to do just one or do you have multiple differing provocations set up. I notice you have a small class and that might work. I have 20 students in my 4 year old class and so would not be able to do that, do you have any helpful suggestions. I would really appreciate a response if you have the chance. I am trying to add more science into our daily routine. Thank you for your help.
    Sue

    • Sue-
      I have 5 baskets underneath my sensory table that hold the current inquiries. The sensory table, light table, art table, and other activities are also available. My students can go anywhere they want as long as the station/activity is not full. (2-3 kids) I only have 11 this year; however I know many teachers who have 20-30 students who also use an inquiry model. I hope that you can incorporate it into your day! :)

  4. Amanda -

    I am so glad I found your blog today! I’ve been trying to implement some Reggio in my public school classroom but haven’t foud a lot of examples to help me along the way. I love what you’re doing!

  5. Love this, thank you. Where can I find the treasure book and what music were you playing in the background?

  6. I love to have a glance at your daily schedule! Jut wondering how all of these components are put together within your instructional hours. Thank you for sharing your experiences – your vision of education and respect to the children are an example to be followed!

7 Comments

  • I love following your blog. I started adding Reggio inspired activities to my classroom two years ago. It will be exciting to watch you incorporate this into your classroom. Thank you for sharing!!

  • Our school also uses HWT and we love it! Do you introduce both the upper case and lower case letters on the same day since you do letter bootcamp? I would love to see your curriculum map. Letter sounds, word families, etc. I have a major as a Reading Specialist and love your Guided Reading and Math units. I have everything printed, just have to laminate!

  • SueG -

    I am curious when you set up your provocations for the 45 mins do all the students go to the table to do just one or do you have multiple differing provocations set up. I notice you have a small class and that might work. I have 20 students in my 4 year old class and so would not be able to do that, do you have any helpful suggestions. I would really appreciate a response if you have the chance. I am trying to add more science into our daily routine. Thank you for your help.
    Sue

    • Sue-
      I have 5 baskets underneath my sensory table that hold the current inquiries. The sensory table, light table, art table, and other activities are also available. My students can go anywhere they want as long as the station/activity is not full. (2-3 kids) I only have 11 this year; however I know many teachers who have 20-30 students who also use an inquiry model. I hope that you can incorporate it into your day! :)

  • Amanda -

    I am so glad I found your blog today! I’ve been trying to implement some Reggio in my public school classroom but haven’t foud a lot of examples to help me along the way. I love what you’re doing!

  • Love this, thank you. Where can I find the treasure book and what music were you playing in the background?

  • I love to have a glance at your daily schedule! Jut wondering how all of these components are put together within your instructional hours. Thank you for sharing your experiences – your vision of education and respect to the children are an example to be followed!

  • Leave a Comment