"Looks sooooo cool!"
"This is great!"
"OMG, it's my drawing."
All of these comments are made by middle school students on their art teacher's Instagram account. Photos posed to art_in_the_middle have multiple likes and emojiis like crazy!
At the beginning of the school year I went to the art teachers, recommending to them to use Instgram to document their art happenings in the classroom. Our middle school art teacher took this challenge and ran with it. The result? Students followed it, commented, and talked about it all the time.
The thought with an Instagram account to showcase work came from the fact that many projects are lengthy and students can't take them home immediately. By posting online, students can show parents their art, explain projects to them, and see what is going on in other hours they are not a part of during the day. It is another audience for students to showcase their work to. In an age where we want students to think of a global audience, Instagram gives them this opportunity.
She really let the kids be involved. Often, she would take a photo of artwork and then let the student choose the filter. Sometimes the students would take the photo and post it. Another thing it did was it allowed the students a little window into their teacher's life. She posted images from home during winter break, showing what she was up to. Artwork that she was working on was documented so the students were able to see their art teacher practicing what she taught, which I thought was really neat.
"Inquiry provides a framework for learning"
After 10 years of teaching, I can say that I fully agree with this belief. As a teacher, we would be doing a disservice to students, and ourselves, if we did not teach students the learning skills, how to use them, the responsibilities that come with it, and how to self-assess.
Doing this four things creates a learner that is able to critically evaluate their situations not only in the classroom, but in life. They are the complex thinkers that can tell right from wrong, know that searching for evidence is important, and can know the right avenue to learn more about a topic.
As a library media specialist, it is my job to teach students how to be responsible inquirers and where they can go to nurture their learning. Kids have curious minds and they need to know where they can go to look for information. It is then important to go through the self-assessment of checking whether the information is credible. In an age where there is information at our fingertips, changing all the time, and published by many, we have a responsibility to educate students about how to be quality learners.
Ways to Foster Inquiry-Based Learning
There are so many great ways to enrich your lessons for this level of thinking. The great thing is that it is put on the students' shoulders. I feel like it gets away from the "song-and-dance" method we are used to doing all the time. Granted, we still have to put on a show every once in awhile, but we also get to put the ownership on the students, which is so key to them getting more out of their learning. Here are some thoughts (Click on blue text links for more information!):
Remember, students want to feel their thoughts are valid and are always looking for approval. They all learn differently and the projects above really let students tap into their own way of research and presentation. All of this feeds into their framework for learning during their entire life!
Reading can take you anywhere. No matter where you are sitting, you can be transported to a school for wizards, a time in the past, or way in the future. Reading can not only take you to places in your mind, but it can take you so many places in life.
When a person says, "reading is the window to the world", it can take on a number of meanings. Some people take it to mean that a reader can be transported anywhere in the world, learning about places they may never travel. Others believe that it means that reading opens doors for you in your life. I feel both are true.
Opening Doors...and Windows
As teachers, it is our job to bring our students to the window. Not all students easily find their way. Some of them are content to sit in their house, without ever drawing the shades.
One thing I found difficult in the beginning of teaching was understanding how a students could DISLIKE reading. I have always loved picking up a book, getting lost in it for hours. Not everyone feels that way, by the way. For some students, it was like pulling teeth to get them to read.
I discovered it was okay if not all students were reading the same types of books, chapter books, or nonfiction. Like with all other areas of life, people can enjoy different things. I had one student who really loved nonfiction books about extreme sports, a girl in love with horse stories, a few that listened to books, a boy who was more interested in magazine articles. I finally figured out, it doesn't matter which window you are looking out, as long as you are looking.
Ideas for Opening Windows
In order to foster a love of reading, it can take some persuading on our part. Here are some ideas to help grow a love of reading in students:
Fifth grade teacher in a 1:1 iPad classroom, sharing my journey with technology in the classroom