Monday, September 12, 2016

Initiating Inquiry on the Walls

Arianna Lambert (@MsALambert) and Larissa Aradj (@MrsGeekChic) run a bi-monthly Twitter chat called #tdsbEd. In the September 8, 2016 edition, the chat focused on Back to School and Building the Classroom Community. The archive for this chat can be found here. I participated and posted this near the end of the session:

This meant I had to follow through on my promise!

For some reason, I always volunteer to decorate the front hall display case in September. Often, the topic is our staff and a method of introducing the adults in the school to the community. Parents have indicated that they really like connecting names with faces.

Here are some of the past September displays.

September 2015 - "Back to School, Ready to Grow"
September 2014 - "The Brains Behind the Books"

September 2013 - just before fancy display

September 2013 - part of "Meet the Creature" display

This year, I wanted to make the display part of our learning, in addition to a way to build community and get to know people. Therefore, I asked every staff member to provide a small item that was significant to their summer. I recommended to people that we keep objects simple and downplay the consumerist potential, so that we considered economic differences in our school community. (Not every family can afford to travel to exotic destinations during the summer holiday and I did not want the display to promote that message at all.) I typed cards with the staff member's name and a couple of sentences explaining the relation of the object to their summer experiences. This is the result.

September 2016 - "Staff Summer Momentos"

During my first library lessons with the Grade 1-5 students, we visit the display and I encourage students to wonder which teacher brought in which item, and why. I notice that even the other adults in the building stop by the display cabinet to look at the objects and predict the owner. Starting today, the second week of school, and continuing throughout the month of September, a white card will be turned around each day so that students, teachers, and visitors can see who brought in which item.

There are so many great teaching moments emerging from this display. I heard one Grade 3 student remark that she thought the principal selected the baseball or golf club because "men like those kinds of sports". (Spoiler: the principal was responsible for neither of those items.) It will be a good opportunity to promote inquiry thinking, consider presumptions we make based on age and gender, and discover the passions that our staff may share with students.

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