Getting Your Students Curious
How great would it be to encourage students to take learning in their own hands outside of school. To give them the tools and opportunity for independent investigation of a question, problem, or project related to their interest. If there is one thing I am passionate about it is getting kids passionate about learning. Any kind of learning if it is their choice and their own interest.
The best way to help them learn outside of school is to give them explicit thinking and learning skills tools inside of school. We need to teach students to learn and that is one of my main purposes is reaching as many students as I can to
1) Believe that they can learn
2) Equip them with the skills and tools to learn.
I am planning to write many “Learning to Learn” blog posts because this topic excites me like no other! Conjuring curiosity and excitement about a topic. Learning first starts with curiosity and the urge to learn more and explore a topic. One important fact a teacher or parent needs to understand is we CANNOT force curiosity to happen, nope, we can’t even if we badly want too… It must come from within… But there is hope… We oversee their environment so let’s make it is conducive to learning and safe exploration. The goal of our classroom is a true student centered one that is aligned with common core standards where kids are excited and involved in the learning.
We want curious learners. We need to keep the brain in mind. The brain is aroused by novelty, music, color, closed shapes, etc. When a concept it taught, it is extremely important to hook it on prior knowledge. As teachers, we need to think about all possible misconceptions students may have and how we can help guide their thinking without giving answers. I have written about how to introduce concepts and ideas before using anticipatory sets that activate prior knowledge and whet their appetite. But after grabbing their attention, the next step is helping them to wonder and question. This is where you must allow the student to feel free to take risks and let their minds toy with the topic. The wonder may lead to interdisciplinary connections and that is ok. We can only anticipate HOW we are going to teach a topic, the student should lead the other through discovery and questioning.
After you present your anticipatory set and get the kids interested… now you want to sustain that interest and turn it into a burning curiosity.
Let them think about the topic. Yup, simple as that. But if we ask kids to think about the topic will they know how to do that. Maybe, but let’s make sure they know by guiding them. Here are some ideas:
One way to start a new topic is by using one of the following tools:
What do you think you know about this topic?
What questions or puzzles do you have about this topic?
How might you explore the puzzles we have around this topic?
What do you know about this topic?
What do you want to learn about this topic?
What have you learned? ((Use this prompt after you have completed the unit/lesson))
SEE-THINK-WONDER (For Visual prompts)
What do you see?
What do you think about that?
What does it make you wonder?
The difference between THINK-PUZZLE-XPLORE and K-W-L is the language used. In TPE the student is asked what they think they know rather than what they know, the difference in language suggests possibilities and openness rather than absolutes. You can ALWAYS integrate the two routines, sometimes starting what they students know and then prompting them to also talk about what they think they know as well. Emphasizing and using the phrase “I think” allows room for risks which is what you want. It also allows students to realize that learning exploration is a journey takes you to the truth.
A person’s ability to think and wonder about a topic is the first step to curiosity. Allow your students ample time to think and wonder about a topic and plan of exploration. Setting the stage of curiosity and wonder is just as important as receiving the information to satisfy the thirst.