See, Think, Wonder as an Invitation to Learning

Now that summer is in full swing, I can catch up on some of the posts that I have wanted to share, but just didn't have time!! Here's something we did this past spring when we started a new unit.......

How do you usually get  your students interested in new units or topics?

In college, many of us learned about the "anticipatory set" part of the lesson, or the "hook" that would increase students' curiosity and draw them in. In PYP circles, this may be referred to as the "provocation" or an "invitation". My use of See, Think, Wonder here was more an invitation to learning, something to get my students curious and excited!

Whatever you call it, intentional choices about how you introduce new topics and concepts to your students can make a lasting impression on them and a positive impact on their learning and what they remember long after the unit is done. Today I'm sharing how I used the visible thinking strategy, See Think Wonder, to get my students interested in the rainforest!

If you follow this blog, you know that I teach at a PYP school; for our Sharing the Planet unit, our focus was on ecosystems. Our central idea was: Ecosystems require a balance for survival. We wanted to teach students about the interdependence of living things and our responsibility in that relationship.

My teammates and I decided to each pick an ecosystem to research as a class, that way our students would have a knowledge base from which they could make connections. My class would study the rainforest, so I asked our school gardener to make a terrarium for us.

(I know! I am incredibly lucky to have a "school gardener"!!! But, you can actually make your own without a lot of trouble).

I set it up after school and planned to surprise my students with it the next day. We had just begun to explore the topic of ecosystems. Here's their reaction....

My hope was that it would ignite some questions, and that it did! They had a lot of great thoughts to share.

They had class pets on the brain because another class was planning on getting turtles! There was actually no creature in there, but they were convinced there was! Most of them got over the idea of getting a class pet, and were able to make a connection to ecosystems.

Once the excitement calmed down a little bit, we followed the See, Think, Wonder routine using different colored post-it notes.
Some of my friends didn't even want to unpack because they were so intrigued by the terrarium!
(The others had already started on their morning warm-up!)
For this thinking routine, just ask your students to answer the three questions. Each one frames their thinking in a slightly different way and sets up the group to have a great discussion.

I like using this routine because it's very simple and need not take a long time At this point in the year(April) my firsties could write really well, but you can also have students draw. You could even do it as a whole class by asking students to just turn and talk with a partner- no writing needed! Some of my colleagues use this routine in PK and K with these modifications; the whole point is to get your students thinking and talking!

See: what objects, colors do you see? (literal)

Think: what do these things make you think? (inferring)

Wonder: what do you wonder about these things? (questions, connections)

I was really pleased in the way that the terrarium "provoked" my students' curiosity. If I could change something, I'd like to include some living things to make the experience richer, and on-going through out the unit, however, it's hard to get access to live animals/pets in Bangladesh- we can't just order science kits because of the time it would take to ship. Maybe next year I will do so plant-related experiments to add some more scientific discovery to the unit.

In the least, the terrariurm got my kids excited about the topic. While we can't always have special projects with each unit, I think it's really important to remember to engage students with shared experiences. These kinds of provocations don't need to be extravagant or costly, they just need to be interesting!

How do you get your kids excited about learning?

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