Tuning In to Sharing the Planet


Looking for provocation for your next unit of inquiry? Try using a "mystery box". Read on to see how we just started our Sharing the Planet unit!

Tuning In to Sharing the Planet, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

Ok, so I spoiled the surprise! Yes, there was a turtle, a real LIVE turtle, in our mystery box! Let me back up a bit....

The central idea of our unit is:
People's actions  produce change in the natural environment.  (I've higlighted concepts that we plan to unpack trhoughout the unit, starting with "natural environment").

Our lines of inquiry:
Change- The positive and negative impact on the environment as a result of human actions  
Causation- The reasons why some animals are endangered 
Responsibility- The responsibilities humans have for the environment

So, what makes up the natural environment? Living things. At the first grade level, we are considering humans, plants and animals. What is more fun and interesting to kids than animals? It was easy to incorporate that idea into our hyrbid Provocation/Tuning In experience. (Luckily, our grade 1 assistant keep a turtle tank in her office!)

This lesson was co-taught with my amazing friend and colleague, Connie. I was taking photos, so you'll see Connie in some of the pictures.

FIRST, we started with a simple game of questions. For our purposes, we called it "Guess My Animal."
  1. Students gather in a circle.
  2. One student thinks of an animal and sits in the center of the circle. (you will want them to whisper it in your ear first before starting the game!)
  3. Other students ask YES/NO questions to try to figure out which animal it is.
  4. Whoever guesses correctly then becomes the child sitting in the center.
Tuning In to Sharing the Planet, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
Simple, right?  Yes, but it also scaffolds students' thinking from lower to higher levels. In the beginning, students struggle to ask YES/NO questions and they have to learn how to think their question through so that they are phrased correctly.

They also transition from asking simple to more complex question as they learn to consider an animal's various characteristics. From, "Is it big?" to "Can it breathe underwater?"

We played 4 rounds and the questions asked during each one was more thoughtful than the one before. Yes! We love that! At the end, we reflected as a group, and discussed how students' thinking changed. Connie and I were able to introduce the word, characteristic, in a meaningful way.

SECOND, we brought out the "mystery box"! Now that students were warmed up and thinking about animal characteristics, they were ready to quess what was in the box.

Tuning In to Sharing the Planet, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

  1. Connie presented the mystery box, explaining that there was something inside. Immediately, the students thought that it couldn't be real. "It's a plastic animal!"
  2. We had showed slides with guiding clues and asked students to make predictions. They recorded their predictions (pictures and words) on the chart paper.
  3. Finally, Connie revealed what was inside- the turtle, which they had correctly guessed!
 
Tuning In to Sharing the Planet, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
 
What followed was simply aweome! Every child was totally entralled by that turtle! We explained that we could do what all inquirers and scientist do, OBSERVE. Mr. Wu Gui (oo gway; Mr. Turtle) crawled right across our chart!

Tuning In to Sharing the Planet, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

Students then recorded their observations in their (blank) unit journals and held the turtle if they wanted. 
They noticed how his neck would expand, his skin stretching... 
"Why is that happening?"
"Because he's breathing."
"How could you record that in your notes?"
Tuning In to Sharing the Planet, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
This is one of many fabulous renderings of Mr. Turtle. The squiggly line is actually the basking rock from his tank!

We also had the opportunity to talk about treating caring for Mr. Wu Gui, and treating him with respect. We will also look to foster a sense of appreciation for the natural environment in students. (Learner profile attributes and attitudes. We will explore this more deeply throuout the unit.)

Tuning In to Sharing the Planet, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

Do you have ideas for using the "mystery box" in your classroom? Or possibly the questioning game? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!


No comments

I love to connect through comments!
Please email me directly at creatingathoughfulclassroom@gmail.com if you would like to ensure that I receive your message.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your ideas!

Powered by Blogger.

Follow by Email

Back to Top