Showing posts from February, 2016

Good Questions

(also posted at THE LEAD LEARNER, staff blog of Kyoto International School)

Before making a transition to snack, or outside play, or lunch, we gather the children on the mat. We ask them to ask us GOOD question about 'something' (usually the first thing that pops into our heads, clouds, alligators, mountains, etc). When they ask a GOOD question, they can go.

So, what is a GOOD question? And how does an 5 year old know what a GOOD question is?
To support this, we are using this visual metaphor:

A small fish question is a question that you already know the answer to (or one that doesn't really make sense)

A medium fish question is a question that you can probably figure out if you think about it

A big fish question is a question that you don't know the answer to, but you really want to

We have noticed in the several weeks we have started doing this quick little daily activity:

the questions are becoming progressively more BIG FISH orientedthe children are proud when they ask a…

Catching the Big Fish

We have been using this simple metaphor with our Early Learning 3 students for the last week or so.

It is a simple visual metaphor meant to encourage students to go a little deeper with their thinking. We used it explicitly while we were making collage all about me.

The little fish were the surface ideas. Simple and to the point. Ideas like, "I put a picture of ice cream, because I like ice cream."

The medium sized fish were adding a little detail on top of the idea, making it represent something more about who we are. "I put a picture of ice cream because ice cream is sweet, and I like sweet things."

The BIG FISH were personal connections, memories that we cherish. They were things that are important to who we are as people. "I put a picture of ice cream because it reminds me of going to the park with my grandparents. We get ice cream and sit in the grass."

What mathematics should we teach?

CLAIM: Until about Primary 5 or 6 (age 10-11), we should teach nothing but Number Sense, Problem Solving, and Patterns. No Measurement, no Shape and Space, no Data Management, nothing. Just conceptual understanding of Number, and skill with composing and de-composing numbers (by number I mean number in all its iterations, fractions, percents, decimals, etc). By the time children get to Primary 5 or 6, they are agile with numbers, breaking them down, using operations, putting them back together, using mental math and written strategies, and solving problems.

SUPPORT: Which type of children excel in mathematics? The children that have number sense. The children who see the patterns. The children who are agile with numbers.

QUESTION: Would students be missing out on anything if we stopped teaching Measurement, Shape and Space, or Data Management? Would a stronger foundation in Number sense actually help support these strands?

(I'm not sure I actually believe any of this, just trying to…

Using Thinking Verbs to Reflect on Inquiry

I helped a teacher to reflect on a very rich UOI. The children were inquiring into the concept of EXCHANGE. They created their own businesses, made a business plan, worked out expenses/profit, pitched the idea and applied for a loan, did market research, executed the plan, reflected, tried again, paid back the loan. 

We decided to document this process using thinking verbs and simple pictures that tell a story.