In an article that forms the basis of a new Exchange Reflections, "Nurturing Thinkers, Explorers and Innovators," Laura Mickley writes, "As a quality improvement specialist, I am privileged to be able to spend time in classrooms. While in these programs, I have noted that the day is often split between what is conceived as ‘play time’ and ‘learning time.’ The part of the day envisioned as learning time often involves a teacher standing in the front of a group of children with a calendar, weather chart and other pre-printed information adorning the wall behind them. The children, in rote fashion, count off numbers or repeat the days of the week..."
Mickley then describes a different kind of experience with a teacher (called Miss Trisha) who built on children’s curiosities to nurture a lively exploration about octopus brains:
"The children were curious and invested in learning. They engaged in brainstorming, prediction and planning. If Miss Trisha had simply provided information, much of that higher-order thinking would not have taken place. I observed how she inspired the children to think more, to search for answers on their own and with guidance. I witnessed how she stirred curiosity in them....Would singing the numbers on the calendar have had the same impact as contemplating octopus brains?...
How do we get classrooms to evolve into places where we allow the children’s curiosity about octopus brains and other fascinations to guide learning experiences?...Once you decide that your program needs to move to a child-centered, inquiry-based program in which educators challenge children to think and interact to expand learning, you will need to decide how you motivate your educators. Determining how they learn and how to build on their strengths will be an important part of your strategies. By keeping in mind parallel-process, you will work to fascinate your staff as you want them to fascinate children."
The Exchange Reflections invites deep discussions on ways to support educators in nurturing more innovative explorations with children.
Exchange Reflections are designed to help a team of people meet in-person or live online to think deeply together about a topic using an article from Exchange magazine as a guide. Included are discussion questions to help guide reflections, as well as a Making Commitments idea sheet to help prompt ideas into action. For your convenience, Exchange Reflections are available in PDF format and you can download immediately on your desktop.
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Your comment put a smile on MY face this morning :) thank you for reading ExchangeEveryDay.
I have been in the field of early childhood education for over 25 years.
The classrooms I remember are the ones that took off as thinkers on a owned interested. The year a group of active boys became scientist and set off volcanoes after making and researching all about them. The year the children's favorite story was Jack and the Beanstalk they grew beans in all kind of environment. The one hidden from light grew translucent and the one in water only sprouted. The year Cookie's Week set-off all kinds of children authored books about a curious cat and school ,the library the store and other locations. What fun this kind of learning generates and you sneak in the days of the week and counting to 30!! Thanks for the journey down memory lane it put a smile on my masked face this morning.