What are they thinkin’?
Well, they are thinkin’ a lot. And often. And I don’t know if you have really talked to one lately, but if you can stop them from talking about Fortnite, they are pretty amazing creatures.
Educators, please, please, for this reason: don’t skip out on a wonder wall.
Kids are filled with so much wonder. So much positivity and hope. They are fully convinced that they can change the world. My students and I spend time on the IUCN red list, and every time we do one of my kids is ready to ship off to Madagascar to save a frog. They would too if they could. And I’d let them (I’d go too. Contract shmontract)
The thing is somewhere along the way this changes. These are not kids that expect you to hand them anything, these guys want to help EVERYONE and wonder about EVERYTHING. When we are learning together and someone asks an off-the-wall but not-to-be-funny sort of question, I have a choice. I can acknowledge her thinking or dismiss it. “Hmm…good question, you should look that up…” (DISMISSED!) or “That’s interesting, but we can talk about that later…” (Nope. DISMISSED!)
That’s where this comes in. Make it a part of your classroom culture. Let them wonder. “Ooo! Good question…put that on the wonder wall!” (That is important to me. Let’s keep it.) The student who really wants to know will write the question on a sticky note for all to see. The one who was messing around won’t. The whole community now has interest piqued. This becomes our question. In upper grades, let a kid research and report back. I would write some answers, stick them back up and spend a couple of minutes going over the answers. This took maybe five minutes, but the value! Oh my goodness! And to make it, I just put the words “I wonder” on a piece of chart paper and laminated it! Since I buy so many school supplies, I have plenty of Super Stickies for the job. The question is still there, literally hanging out, until it is answered. Not forgotten.
Kids today believe they can change the world. They are hopeful. They want to soak up knowledge and wonder about everything. Yes, they ask why. Yes, they get you off topic. Yes, some of those questions may be weird or nothing you were even talking about. But none of those questions, or the kids, are dismissed. If you want to create an environment of wonder and curiosity, don’t dismiss–let those questions fly (to the sticky notes).