Just last week, I shared with you the wonderful story of my students tweeting with surgeons during heart surgery. We just finished our Science inquiry unit on the human body, and this seemed like the perfect conclusion. But then a wonderful thing happened. I heard from Alexis from Sunnybrook Hospital, and she said that Dr. Cohen (the surgeon that live tweeted heart surgery last week) would be willing to Skype with us and answer any additional questions. Was I interested? Absolutely!
We’ve been emailing back and forth since I received Alexis’ blog post comment, and then yesterday, she mentioned that Dr. Cohen could Skype with us at noon today. Right now, we’re just getting started on our new Social Studies unit on Government and Responsible Citizenship, and as always, time is precious, but how could I say no? I asked the students, and they were thrilled with the idea, so we moved our schedule around and happily accepted this amazing invitation.
It was interesting, as we haven’t been discussing the human body in over a week now, but the students remembered what they learned and they remembered the tweeting experience from last week. Many of the students spoke to their parents last night about this Skyping opportunity, and some students even came into class today with some questions. Then they wrote and edited additional questions this morning, and we were ready. We also found out the incredible news that CTV News was going to come and record a story on this. The students were thrilled!
And as they asked the questions, they learned a lot of new information, and even reflected on this in their writing, through their discussions, and in their tweets. In the past, the pressure of “not having enough time,” would have probably prevented me from even having the students tweet last week let alone Skype this week. But sometimes it’s worth revisiting a unit of study, especially if we can make this learning experience richer. In this case, I think that Skyping with Dr. Cohen increased student knowledge about the human body and disease prevention. This is an experience that the class will remember well past today, and it was one that was well worth some additional Science time. (Just look at our student learning in our Storify Story from today.)
When have you chosen to revisit some previous learning? How did you feel about your decision to do so? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
P.S. As an aside, I found it hard to stifle a giggle during my part of the interview segment when I was asked if any students found the heart surgery gross. 🙂 Ewww … that’s gross was how our human body unit started. Thank goodness we moved past this in the end!
Another thing I learned in FDK…………kids don’t “turn off learning” like we (I) do! Over the past few years I have learned to leave Christmas out for several weeks after (ICK!), to keep the snow books out long after I am done looking at them, to keep hearts at the creative long after Valentines……..and not to put away stuff they are inquiring about even though I haven’t noticed anyone touch them! At first I found it very annoying because I like it clean and tidy and on to the next thing……..but now with inquiry, learning never seems to be “put away” the kids bring back stuff constantly! Another big learning ah ha……..if they haven’t used it in months and I am thinking about putting it away…………almost guaranteed it is the hot item the next day! I now have everything I own “on the floor to be used” and try and have materials from all math strands, social studies topics and such out so ready for when it comes up! Never seem to have enough space or shelves!
Thanks for the comment, Lori! I can totally see this being true. I think there’s also a lot of value in re-exploring old topics, and linking new learning with previous material. I wonder how we can best organize our shelves and bins to give students a chance to go back to these topics without being visually overwhelmed by the items out. To me, this is a bit of a balancing act. What have you and others tried?
I think for me it was bringing and keeping all my materials at the school and keeping them organized for them to be accessible to the children. I have found over the past several years that I have need everything at my fingertips because if the children are IN to something the “wait” for materials or books can often cause them to lose interest. I found in FDK the inquiry would be gone faster than it arrived if materials were not readily available! The more I jump into a play based model this year in first grade, the more I have found the need to rearrange my room more like it was in FDK but………space is limited! Something some of my colleagues have noticed is that they need the materials from the books rooms and the pods or other areas of the school readily available in rooms……….the “pooling” of resources in a central location that has occurred over the past 8-10 years doesn’t seem to be working as well with inquiry as we all need the same things at the same time! Things cost money………. My class and I have been rearranging our room over the past week to try and make it work better for us! I was missing a “display”area that reflected our current class inquiry (Community for Social Studies) but we also need smaller areas to allow the Prep teacher to have materials for them to revisit. I also no longer have an area to display something new or interesting that I have brought into the room so it doesn’t get the attention it deserves! We will continue our rearranging today and see where it leads us………….trying to get all the materials for all strands of math out is going to be tricky! Back to Ikea to buy more Bins??? HA HA HA!
I totally see where you’re going with this, Lori! We’ve continued to rearrange our classroom this year too. Eliminating desks for everyone has helped with more space, but bookshelves, bins, and display areas are always at a minimum. I’m also cognizant of not visually overwhelming students with too many materials everywhere. I think it’s a fine line. I’d love to hear how others balance this as well. Thanks for starting a great conversation, Lori!
Slowing down and re-visiting things are crucial in our classrooms today. I think our delivery mode has to change . . . .no where does it say that you have to spend 3 classes on this and 2 classes on that. Teaching Kindergarten has taught me not to think in units which is probably harder in upper elementary but not impossible. Sometimes, children need longer on one outcome then another. Learning is on-going and involves areas of the curriculum which is why integration is the key. Your students were learning technology, questioning skills, research, writing, etc. That lesson was surely linked to some portion of your curriculum. I think learning is never finished . . . And you modelled that to your students! Great job!
Thanks Kendra! I am fortunate to have limited rotary, so I can integrate more, and since January, I have been doing so. I’ve really noticed the difference in my students. We’re no longer working to the bell, and the learning and discussion is so much richer. You’re right: some outcomes do take longer than others, and we need to stop only thinking about “checking things off the list,” and instead, look for the greatest, richest learning opportunities for our students. Kindergarten teachers have taught me a lot about this, and you’re one of those people — THANK YOU!