For a culture of kindness to truly grow in our school, we need to constantly nourish and discuss it. After all, if we limit the discussion to the occasional anti-bullying assembly we can’t really expect students to thoroughly catch the vision of what it really looks like, and to feel comfortable speaking up for kindness. If your class is in need of a recharge, please use any or all of these resources to inquire into what it means to be caring!
Resource #1: “Give a Little Love, Get A Little Love” Kritovatka
Resource #2: Kind is…Radical Hospitality by Soul Pancake
Resource #3: The Gnomist: A Great Big Beautiful Act of Kindness by Great Big Story (this is a longer video at 17 minutes, but if you happen to be able to make the time, I promise it’s worthwhile. Here’s the trailer, too!)
Resource #4: “Those Shoes” by Maribeth Boelts and Noah Z. Jones
What does it mean to be caring?
What is people’s responsibility to be caring?
What are the different perspectives in a community when it comes to public acts of kindness?
What are some obstacles that sometimes stand in the way of expressing caring?
What can we do to overcome obstacles that sometimes stand in the way of being caring?
I wrote a post as recently as just a few weeks ago about the need to prioritize relationships over content. But, of course, that does not mean that content does not have its own essential place. This week’s provocation is about being knowledgeable, and why that matters.
Sleep is universal in the animal kingdom, but each species slumbers in a different — and often mysterious — way. Some animals snooze with half their brain, while others only sleep for two hours a day (without even suffering sleep deprivation!). Ed Yong guides us through the latest research on how creatures catch their z’s.
“Timelapse is an example that illustrates the power of Earth Engine’s cloud-computing model, which enables users such as scientists, researchers, and journalists to detect changes, map trends, and quantify differences on the Earth’s surface using Google’s computational infrastructure and the multi-petabyte Earth Engine data catalog.”
Resource #4: If Picasso Painted A Snowman, by Amy and Greg Newbold
How does knowledge impact our actions?
How does knowledge impact our ability to relate to people and events around us?
What is the relationship between knowledge and curiosity?
What is our responsibility to be knowledgeable, especially if we have Google to help us answer so many questions?
In college, I took a course called “The History of Creativity and Innovation.” It was a fascinating review of the entire history of mankind from the perspective of creativity, innovation, and curiosity. So it’s an interesting paradox that though curiosity has ever been pivotal in the advancement of our species, we still tend to still prioritize status-quo-preservation. This week’s provocation is meant to encourage that very curiosity that has brought us the wheel, the compass, the printing press, and the Internet.
Resource #1: Tweet from Astronaut Randy Bresnik:
A fidget spinner in space! How long does it spin? I’m not sure, but it’s a great way to experiment with Newton’s laws of motion! pic.twitter.com/5xIJDs2544
We understand the power of empathy. It can help us find a sense of belonging. It can help us cross boundaries in reaching those around us. It can help us process our past pain and understand the struggles of others.
Surely, such a powerful attitude should never be taken for granted where our students are concerned. Here are resources to help them investigate it.
Resource #1: Scarlett, by the STUDIO NYC
Resource #2: The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
Resource #3: If We Could See Inside Others’ Hearts
Resource #4: Empathy by Brene Brown
What is empathy like?
What is empathy not like?
What is the relationship between empathy and connection?
What are the different perspectives on a empathy?
How does a person’s ability to feel empathy change?
There’s a reason that our first lessons on bringing detail into our writing often revolve around the 5 senses. There’s a rich, visceral connection we all make with our senses of touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell.
In this way, this week’s provocation can be a wonderful application for a writing unit, or else perhaps for science concepts such as adaptation, human development, etc.
I remember receiving a box of laminated cut-outs to display in my classroom which were intended to help remind us about our goals as teachers and learners using the International Baccalaureate (IB) PYP Programme — specifically, the 5 Essential Elements of the PYP.
Use of these cutouts went about as well as my feeble attempts to use Key Concepts questions (read that story here — fortunately, it does have happy ending).
In retrospect, I realize that my mind was in such a frenzy trying to “get it together” as a new teacher, I never had the quiet time necessary to sit and process in its entirety this more subtle approach to teaching and learning.
As I’ve continued to reflect on my experiences at a PYP school, and on inquiry in general, I’ve come to better glimpse how and why all five of these elements truly are essential. This week’s provocation is intended as an investigation on where they come into play for learners. (I will also plan on designing additional provocations based on individual essential elements in the future!)
Resource #1: The Potter, video by Josh Burton
Resource #2: Soar by Alyce Tzue via The CGBros
What is the connection between a growth mindset and these essential elements?
Why are concepts, skills, knowledge, attitudes, and action necessary for learning? What would happen if one element was missing?
This week, I had the privilege to volunteer at my old school as one of the trainers for professional development day. I was asked to focus one of the workshops on inquiry planning and concept-based instruction in science and social studies. But the more I prepared, the more I realized that when it comes to inquiry, it’s not so much WHAT we do, as much as HOW we APPROACH.
So instead of spending our hour discussing science/social studies-specific ideas, we started off with a personal inquiry inventory, adapted from a couple posts by Kath Murdoch.
Next, participants used their inventory responses to determine which area of inquiry they wanted to investigate more.
As participants researched, they were also on the hunt for a sentence-phrase-word that helped them determine the difference between the same science/social studies activity used in a traditional teacher-driven classroom vs. an inquiry, concept-driven classroom.
I loved hearing the conversations, and engaging with participants as their research prompted new wonderings.
As everyone shared their Sentence-Phrase-Words, it led to more fabulous, thought-provoking discussions, such as…
…the fact that it’s a sacred trust to protect and cultivate the natural curiosity of our young charges — to not allow “the game of school” to drain that from them.
…the fact that everyone is on a different trajectory when it comes to adopting an inquiry approach — it’s not so much about how much of your day is dedicated to an inquiry-based instruction, but rather how consistently.
But by far my favorite part of our workshop was finishing up with “I used to think…Now I know…” sticky notes.
In case you can’t quite read them all in the above photo, I’ll list out the content here, too:
I used to think that students need to be taught. Now I know that they need to be guided.
I used to think the teacher had to give all the instruction using books, videos, etc. to teach about other cultures and countries. Now I know we can connect with other places in the world and talk with REAL people about their culture and country through technology.
I used to think that giving students agency can be scary. Now I know that with the right tools, it isn’t.
I used to think that joining curriculum and student-driven inquiry was too difficult to join in the classroom. Now I know it’s possible here as it is anywhere & not as hard as we convince ourselves.
I used to think that inquiry was complicated. Now I know we are making it complicated.
I used to think that questions were used solely at the beginning of a unit to drive the inquiry. Now I know questions can be a result of the inquiry and lead to more exploration.
I used to think inquiry was more work on the teacher. Now I know I need to lend it over to the kids — let them be kids.
I used to think that you had to fit everything in your lessons. Now I know that student driven lessons are more effective and fun.
I used to think that I always had to have an answer. Now I know that I don’t. Students can discover their answers through their own research.
I should add that thanks to the discussion during this workshop, as well as my continued online learning with teachers around the world, I need to add my own:
I used to think that to be an inquiry teacher, we must have students directing the learning 100% of the time. Now I know that it’s more about working toward creating a culture of ownership and curiosity, which can be present even during explicit teacher instruction.
Here are the links to all the research I shared with participants. Thank you so much to the many educators who so freely share their thinking and learning. I learn so much every day because of you! Kath Murdoch, Edna Sackson, Taryn BondClegg, Richard Wells, Sonya Terborg, Aviva Dunsinger, Sam Sherratt, and more.