The day I let go of my lesson plan....
As part of my daily routine, I start the day with 2nd graders. From the first week of school, I start class with "What are you Wondering" to get their minds activated and thinking. It's super fun to watch them create questions from another person's questions, and their minds expand. Sometimes we dig into a question or two- sometimes the kids just want to check out books on their topic.
Friday was different. You see, on Thursday the class I was seeing had been on a field trip to a local historic park. I asked the students to tell me what they did there, and what they learned. But then, I asked, "What are you still wondering about that if you could go back and ask, you would?" I was so not ready for lots of eager voices stepping on one another to get their questions out.
After these questions came out, I asked the students if they noticed a pattern? Was there one topic they were interested in more than others? Someone pointed out Boll Weevils, and then- the teaching began.
I tossed my lesson plan out the window. In that moment, nothing was more important than capitalizing on their desire for answers. And so- we began the 2nd phase of our research model: investigate. I looked up boll weevils in the catalog and found 1 book- a poetry book. We read the poem. When I asked if it helped- one student said , "We know the boll weevil is a beetle!" So then, we looked up books about beetles. When I asked how would we then look for information- someone suggested the table of contents- another the index. We looked in both, and went to read what it gave us.
While some of the answers were there, not all were.
Me: "Why is the boll weevil so important?"
S: "Because it destroyed cotton crops."
Me: "So if we can't find info in beetle books, where else might we look?"
SS: Loudly and excitedly, "In books about cotton!"
Back to the catalog. Back to the books on cotton- more answers found. Time running out.
As I look back to that day, I smile. There is absolutely no way that I could have introduced them to researching in a more authentic way than going into a wonder in the way we did. There is no lesson plan that can prepare you for going off script and just being in the moment of teaching. It's a risk, but one worth taking.
Remember, it's about the kids. What they want and need. In their way. In their time. Let them drive the learning and it will be the best ever!