|Happy, our class pet, the inspiration behind all our wonders|
This summer many of us at the Think Tank read A Place for Wonder by Georgia Heard and Jennifer McDonough. We met a few times throughout the summer to share our ideas, reflections, and thoughts about the book. Jenny even started a wiki for us so we could collaborate there. (I admit I have been terrible about checking it once school started- but this summer I had the best of intentions.)
I finally got around to opening up the Wonder Center during reading workshop. Right now, since we're not doing reading groups yet in kindergarten (those start next week), the center is teacher led. This has been great because I've been able to sit with them, direct their attention, include interactive writing activities, and set the expectation that we're asking questions, looking at books to learn, and then writing. Next week when I start doing guided reading they'll be more independent (we hope).
|Observing the parts as a scientist|
I'm dividing the center into 3 different parts. First we start with interactive writing and coming up with a question about what we want to know about frogs (or our topic). I've been surprised that this is actually hard for my five year olds. They are so egocentric that they think they know the right answer, even if they don't. Every "question" is a statement. This is usually how our conversations go:
"Mrs. Lipstick, I have a question. Frogs eat lizards."
"Friend, do you want to know if frogs eat lizards?"
"No, I know frogs eat lizards."
"How do you know that?"
"In my brain"
"I wonder if all frogs eat lizards. Can I write, 'do frogs eat lizards?' ?"
"NO! I KNOW FROGS EAT LIZARDS. IT IS TRUE. MY MOM TOLD ME."
"I'm looking for a QUESTION. What do you want to know about frogs?"
We go on and on.
So I'm trying to start with one group initiated question. We do a quick interactive writing which plants vocabulary and gives them some literacy (F for frog) they use the rest of the center to label their pictures.
|I'm out of room in the classroom so our wonder wall is outside in the hallway|
|Our wonder center materials|
To be honest I was pretty unsure of how this would go, but I've been amazed. The kids LOVE looking at the books and then "writing" what they found. Every child seems to be able to access the center at their level. Last week I was working with a little one who has no English. Because he had the common vocabulary from our intro question, and because we'd done a quick "F" for frog, he was drawing lots of pictures of frogs and labeling "F". This prompted him and his friend to try to write other letters they could hear, and quickly their little index cards were full of strings of letters. It was the most literacy I'd seen out of either of them and to be honest, I was surprised.
Our next topic will be trees. I went back and forth between doing trees and dinosaurs and settled on trees because it's in our science curriculum. However, if it doesn't fill us with wonder the same way our frog did I'm going to disregard the science curriculum for this center and just develop it around what I notice they are interested in. After all, we have another opportunity for science. My real objective here is to get them asking questions, using books to get information, become inquisitive readers, and really (the main objective in kindergarten) practice their literacy skills.