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Posts tagged ‘project questions’

Brad’s Visit

During each project, we ask an expert to come in or we go visit them in their work place.  We pick these experts very carefully and we talk to them about project work so they are prepared for what we will be doing, asking, and participating in when we are with them. We begin the process of finding an expert by asking our families first!   Often times the best expert or connection is made through our families!!  As we start a project, we start to think of possibilities or avenues we can go down to find an expert or a place to visit.  This is unlike the “traditional” field trip that is seen in the upper elementary schools.  We prepare the expert by offering them the questions we have created, tell them about what our children have already learned and their age group, offer them an overview of project work, and what a typical expert visit looks like.  This would include explaining that we want the children to ask questions, create sketches of their materials, and use child friendly language.  We ask the expert to join us in the traditional clothing of the specific job if possible.

Brad Visits the Leapfrogs

Brad was a parent of one of our children.  He had gone to school to study horticulture and was excited and willingly to share his knowledge!  He began by introducing himself and telling children about his passion.  He then began to answer questions of the children.  We helped get the children started by going over our web of questions that we had prepared previously. The children then began to be more comfortable and started to ask more questions!  We asked each question off the web and the answer was documented directly off the web.  Brad was apprehensive to bring in his tools as they were dangerous for our age group.  He decided to sketch a picture of each of the tools he used based on the children’s questions.  Typically, we would ask the “expert” to bring in any clothing and items that he would use to perform his job.  We would then take the opportunity to sketch the items that the expert brought in. 

With two teachers in the room, Kara and I split up tasks during this time.  We are supporting children by using tracking statements to support their learning , encouraging children by talking about what they see, helping children label or document their thoughts, and taking TONS of pictures.  Often times, we like to video a speaker so we can return to the information later.  When Kara and I are photographing, we are making sure to photograph picture of the children engaged in their work, taking pictures of the actual objects being shown (vest, sheers, saw), and the speaker.  We are then able to go back to these pictures to create more sketching, label the items in the pictures, and to form representations of the objects that we had seen with materials in our treasure chest.

In Brad’s visit, he began with introducing himself.  He then answered all of our questions from our question web.  As the children took in his information and thought of more questions, he spent some time sharing what he had brought.  He also showed us several pictures of trees including Evergreen Trees, Oak Trees, and Maple Trees.   He also showed us the biggest trees in the United States, different types of pine cones, and drew us pictures of the tools he used.

Later that day, we spent time going over each question that we had on our web and answering based on our interview of our expert.  Several children spent time making representations from his visit including sketches, labeled drawings, and three-dimensional representations made in clay, with recycled materials, and in model magic.

Grace sketches how a tree grows.

In a classroom setting or a home-school setting, taking time to visit the expert or the facility in which you are studying is important!  It offers children the opportunity and empowers the children to ask questions and learn!  They are able to take a front seat to their learning which as an adult, I learn so much more when I am in the driver’s seat and not stuck along for the ride! 

Enjoy the ride!

-AIH

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Question Web

After creating our Knowledge Web, we begin to create our Question Web.  This is an opportunity for the children to feel empowered.  We are able to listen to their questions and by doing this we are telling them that their feelings are important to us, spend some one on one time as we write the question together, and begin to think of ways we could find our answer.  When the child asks a question, we ask if we can add it to the web.  The child and the teacher then walk over to the web and document their questions right away.  Our web’s are positioned at the height of the child and in group so that we can continue to reference it.  We spend time sounding out and identifying the letters in the question.  We often times talk about the grammatical structure of our question (the children are motivated during this time and exposure during motivation is so important!).  Sometimes during the creation of our Knowledge Web and during our personal stories that the children share, we begin to think of questions as well.  Even the youngest children can have questions about the project, but may not be able to pose in a question format.  For example, a young child may be very interested in a bird they see in a tree every day when they go outside.  One day the child may ask the teacher to look at the bird.  This may then produce some dialogue between the child and the teacher.  The teacher may say, based on her observations and the dialogue she/he may have shared with the child during this time period, “You were really interested in that bird!  Maybe you want to find out if birds live in trees? What birds eat?”  If the child is verbal enough to answer yes and no, they will tell you if you are on the right track!  If not, continue to observe and restate another question based on these observations.   In our classroom and with this project, we added our questions to our Weeping Willow Tree. 

We do set time aside for the children to ask the pressing questions that they have days after working on the knowledge web, but the question web will become the children’s working document.  They, with practice and modeling, will begin to ask to add questions on during play.  This will happen days and weeks after the initial creation.  As teachers, we have questions, too!  We add our questions on there as well. 

How can you start one in your classroom?

  • Start with a large piece of paper
  • Start small
  • Model the behavior
  • Use terminology during their play such as, “I wonder how the leaves fall off trees…”  or “I see squirrels in trees, but I wonder if they live there.”
  • As you write the question, as the child for help!
  • Encourage the children to document their own questions

As you begin your own webs, feel free to post questions here!  Don’t be shy!  I am sure someone out there has the same question or has been through the situation and is willingly to give you insight!  We are a team here! 

Everyone, everything, everyone has potential. -Claire Warden

Until next time-

AIH

Resources

Once we have determined a project, we begin to bring in materials for the children so that they can investigate and learn from there own experiences.  (Many of us learn best when we are able to manipulate something!)  As children were waiting for group to begin, several began to look though a book about trees and the rainforest.  They began asking each other questions such as:

  • Do different kinds of birds live in trees?
  • What animals live in trees?
  • What kind of  trees are in the book? 

 Children who were able to answer based on their experiences or from the story would, while others would encourage children to write it down on our questions we had already logged!

Inspire your children!  Support them!  Offer them the tools to succeed!  

Learning and growing as a team through the text.

You can do this in your room by adding the below materials based on your project:

  • books
  • website
  • photography
  • props

Until next time-

AIH

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