This is the latest in a series of blogs by a partnering cohort teacher.
By Christa Miller
If you have been around toddlers lately, you’ve undoubtedly noticed how many questions they ask! They are full of wonder and constantly seeking out answers to their endless lists of questions. In Warren Berger’s book, A More Beautiful Question, he tells us that between the ages of 2-5, toddlers ask about 40,000 questions. When children enter school, the number of questions they ask each day dramatically decreases. The school system seems to have a way of sucking the wonder out of kids. It’s time we inspire that wonder and keep our students operating at that high level of inquiry. What if we inspire wonder in our students?
I teach second grade, and by time students get to me, they have already started to lose their instinct to wonder. Instead of wondering and thinking on their own, they wish to have clear cut directions and simple definitive answers. It’s time to spark that wonder. It is time to show students the power of being curious. Let them know it is okay not to have all the answers. We need to make it clear that we, the teachers, do not have all the answers. Let students wonder and discover for themselves.
One of the driving values of the Fluency Project is agency. How can we develop agency in our students? I believe the answer is to let them wonder. Teach them to think. Teach them to wonder. Teach them to discover things for themselves.
I let wonder be a driving force in my class this year. I sparked that wonder with Passion Projects. Passion Projects start with the students thinking about things they love or are really curious about, and they end with students taking control of their learning, growing skills, knowledge, and confidence. My students come up with a question that leads their project. They then research a variety of resources and decide what they would like to create to share their information. With wonder being the force that guides us, and consistent help of our innovation coach, my students have discovered how to use Apple Keynote, iMovie, Google Slides, digital posters, and more. They have been able to discover so many things on their own that we never would have been able to as a whole class. But….the impact of our passion projects goes far beyond the tools that we use. The real reward is that my students have developed agency.
My students have rekindled that joy of wonder. They have learned the joy and power of questioning. They have taught themselves (with guidance) how to conduct research. They have learned how to put their research into a meaningful presentation. Most excitingly, they have created work that they are proud of and excited to share. They love presenting their projects with the class – it’s their chance to share their knowledge with the world (even if it’s just our class). They feel a sense of pride, accomplishment, empowerment. My students have found their voice; they are in the driver seat of their learning. They go even one step further by taking it on themselves to teach the other students how to use the tools that they just mastered. I have my very own Keynote and Google Slides experts that are thrilled to be able to show their classmates how create their own presentations using these tools. It’s a beautiful thing.
It all began with a simple idea…wonder. Wonder is a wonderful thing. Imagine where wonder can take your class.
Christa Miller graduated from West Liberty University in 2005 with a major in Elementary Education. She later pursued her masters from West Virginia University. After spending a few years as a substitute, teaching a wide variety of subjects and grade levels, she began her full-time career as a teacher at Warwood School in 2010, teaching 1st grade. Christa currently teaches 2nd grade. Christa is National Board Certified and constantly seeks out ways to learn and grow. Christa currently is a member of Cohort 4 of The Data and Technology Fluency Project with West Liberty University and the CREATE Lab (situated in Carnegie Mellon University). Christa’s special interests include traveling, running, and spending time with her family.