Friday, 24 August 2012

Wandering and Wondering

One of the challenges of starting a brand new unit after the overseas orders have been done is lack of resources. Our library has not had time to order new items for August and currently there are 12 books about the brain or books with chapters about the brain.....  hardly enough for 3 classes of 20 students! Middle School library has lent us another 14 books. Still....

When we check our list on the wall (generated by a small group brainstorming activity) there are other avenues. 

We  will make use of other teachers and we might have a group of high school students interested in seeing how they can help but they are at least an hour away. Realistically - most of the information that's readily available is from the Internet. I used to use iKeepBookmarks to use with students but now finding LiveBinders ideal for our purposes.

Students were emailed this LiveBinder: Learning and the Brain

The first page reminds students of our focus. They also get a reminder of what they should be doing while browsing. 

Gathering websites which have already been pre-chosen, means that students:
1. aren't spending a lot of time surfing the net,
2. aren't having to evaluate the usefulness of sites like they would if they were using a search engine,
3. aren't reading material that has no relevance.
4. aren't reading material that is beyond the "just-right" of a good (but not necessarily the best) reader.

Having said that, these are important skills. This is a short unit and it is the start of the year. (See post "So many Starts!" ) We'll spend longer teaching those skills later. But we will talk about the sites given and their usefulness and why they were chosen.

Students are asked to note anything they find particularly interesting. They are asked to make note of wonderings and questions that they have as they are browsing.  I can see that they are not used to jotting down questions. 

 Oh dear!

I suspect that they will have had experience of asking questions during Reader's Workshop but haven't realised that this is a way of thinking and learning which is not confined to reading. (there's another blog post)

As I gather these bits of information about they way I see students approach this unit, I start to think of which of the many inquiry skills I should focus on next.  Articulating your wonderings and generating questions seems to be a main one!

Photos are my own.

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