Inquiry Into Symbiosis

Today’s inquiry post is by Melissa Sosa. Melissa is a mother of 2 young boys and a firm believer that life is a constant learning process. She currently lives in Humacao, Puerto Rico with her children and cat Quenepa.

I’ve always considered symbiosis to be a pretty interesting concept. Different species of animals and plants not only coexisting but collaborating together? I thought only humans did that! Well it turns out animals and plants are experts at maintaining symbiotic relationships that are crucial to the survival of our ecosystem.

When I created this provocation post I wanted to find fun resources that illustrated a fresh perspective to symbiosis, encouraging kids’ curiosity and understanding.  These resources have some examples of symbiotic relationships that may not be so common or well-known.

Resource #1: Symbiosis: A surprising tale of species cooperation by Ted Ed via The Kid Should See This

Resource #2: The Wood Wide Web by BBC News via The Kid Should See This

Resource #3: Butterflies drinking turtle tears!? via The Kid Should See This

Resource #4: Vanishing of the Bees trailer by Bee The Change

Resource #5: Carl & the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman

40847278

Provocation Questions:

  • Why is the connection between humans, bees and flowers so important to our ecosystem?
  • How does symbiosis work like a partnership?
  • Can you think of an example of a symbiotic relationship in nature?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

How Might We Remove the “Floaties” & Give Students “Goggles” Instead? #TeacherMom

A great Costco deal led to goggles for everyone in the family this summer. However, I didn’t bother with them for my 2 year-old since we were dealing with his floaties, which generally kept his face about water anyway. For those unfamiliar, they look something like these:

One day, he snatched his pair of goggles and insisted on wearing them, too. I realized that if he was going to get any use out of them, we would definitely need to give goggles a shot without with floaties:

Image result for speedo kids comfort fit goggles

I couldn’t believe what happened next.

Within about 30 minutes of swimming in the 2-foot end of the pool, he went from a formerly clingy, somewhat nervous state to confident explorer.

Where I had once struggled to convince him to try blowing bubbles, or to let go of me even to stand up on a bench, he was now diving under the water. He couldn’t get enough of enthusiastic underwater waving, suspending himself with his feet off the floor, and testing his breath-holding ability.

As with hiking (and pretty much everything else!), I have been pondering teaching connections to this shift. In what ways might we similarly replace the floaties with goggles? How might we give our students tools for deep experimentation, and remove structures that might actually be impeding that opportunity?

Perhaps we might:

I think the real reason for my toddler’s transformation was that the goggles literally gave him a new lens with which to see water. No longer was it a threatening, mysterious body, but something with which he could actually interact and discover his own capacity. Meanwhile, without the floaties, I could no longer push him beyond his comfort level and had to stay near his side. Yet with the goggles, he was pushing himself in his own way.

What shifts have you seen give students a new lens for the structures and concepts around them? How else might we allow students to dive in when given some “goggles instead of floaties?”

featured image: Thomas Hawk

Miscellaneous Thought-Provoking Goodness for Students

My curation doesn’t always fit neatly into broader themes and concepts. Sometimes I squirrel away videos and resources that are just plain fascinating. I hope you can find uses for these to inspire thinking & wonder with your students this year!

Resource #1: The Icebreaker. Short flim by Timlab.pro

Which makes me wonder…

…How quickly does the ice form over the water?

…How does the crew deal with all the snow?

…What kinds of jobs take people out to these dangerous waters, and why?

Resource #2: Changemaker Quiz by Obama Foundation

Which makes me wonder…

…How can our personalities impact our communities for change?

…What kinds of change do we need and how can communities find out what they are?

Resource #3:

Which makes me wonder…

…How do our environments impact the way we move? The way we live?

What makes a place interesting to visit?

…How is movement and travel part of the human experience?

Resource #4: What Have You Changed Your Mind About? by SoulPancake

Which makes me wonder…

…What makes it hard for people to change their minds about things?

What makes people change their minds over time?

Resource #5: The true story of Mary Anning: The Girl Who Discovered Dinosaurs by BBC via The Kid Should See This

Which makes me wonder…

…How does our upbringing impact our interests and what we’re able to achieve?

…Why have women been excluded from science and most other fields over time? Why/how has this changed today?

Resource #6: These items worn down over time tell pretty interesting stories

Which makes me wonder…

What are other ways humans can observe change over time?

…How is critical thinking needed to tell the stories of change over time?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

5 Useful Leveled Texts Resources

We can drill comprehension strategies all day, but until students are given opportunities to grow their knowledge base through reading accessible texts, they will continue to struggle. That’s why I’ve searched out some level-able texts online you might be able to use with students! Meanwhile, I want to make it clear that this should not be a substitute for a diverse classroom libraries that provide students with plenty of choices. But as a supplementary resource, or perhaps while we’re working on building one, here are some resources that may be of use:

#1: Time for Kids: Accessible journalism for kids. Also available to be read aloud, or in Spanish!

#2: Newsela: Connects with Google Classroom to be able to assign reads to students. Some include a quiz or writing prompt as well, and many are available in Spanish.

#3: Wonderopolis: While this resource is not exactly level-able, it’s still made extremely accessible through features such as audio, highlighted vocabulary to look at definitions, a quiz, and just sheer interesting topics that kids are wondering about around the world!

#4: Dogo News: Search by grade or interest, and access assignments & audio. Some of the features do require a Pro account.

#5: ReadWorks: Similar features as elsewhere. I like that there are fiction and poetry options available here.

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry into the 4 C’s: Collaboration

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the Four C’s of 21st Century Learning. For more, click here.

The last in this mini series of posts on the 4 C’s of 21st Century learning. Collaboration can be a tricky one, especially when students equate it with group projects where only one kid does the work. But authentic collaboration is nothing like those group projects. Done right, it can be inspiring, fulfilling, and world-changing. Share these resources with students to help them inquire into the true nature of collaboration.

Resource #1: The Globemakers: Craft with a Modern Spin by Great Big Story

Resource #2: Filmbilder Animanimals videos: Ant & Crocodile

Resource #3: Mozart Symphony No. 40 by Berliner Philharmoniker

Resource #4: ÖVERALLT – IKEA collaborating with African designers by Ikea Today

Resource #5: Carl & the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman

40847278

Provocation Questions:

  • What is collaboration like when it works? What is it like when it doesn’t?
  • How can collaboration help the individual? How can it help the group?
  • What are is the responsibility of the individual when collaborating? What is the responsibility of the group?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Why We Need Global Citizenship More Than Ever (& some beautiful resources to foster it)

Growing up, I always had a fascination with books that showed how kids live around the world (mostly supplied by DK). It always seemed so far away and mysterious, and I loved to imagine myself in those various settings.

Today, our kids’ understanding of how kids live around the world needs to go beyond a fascination. Beyond curiosity about the “other.” Beyond stereotypes.

Today, we need kids to become global citizens.

To see and respect the differences, yes, but also to see our similarities, our connections, our interdependence, our shared humanity.

For example, how might discussing the Daily Bread photo-series by Gregg Segal broaden our students’ lens of how wealth is related to diet? (ie, “It seems counterintuitive that some of the poorest countries have among the healthiest diets. But when you look closely at what they’re eating, it makes sense: fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, fish, and legumes and very little meat (which functions more as seasoning) and few empty calories (processed foods)”).

How might sharing a variety of picture books on diverse day-in-the-life spark student thinking about what we share in common?

How might digital citizenship help shrink students’ world & bring perspective and connection? Ideas might include:

  • OneGlobeKids.org: and introductory platform for young kids to explore the lives of kids around the world
  • Quadblogging: a chance to connect with 3 other classes around the world through blogging, almost pen-pal style
  • Globally collaborative Google presentations (shared on Twitter): examples such as this & this

Fostering global citizenship is not just about feeding our students’ curiosity; it’s a precious opportunity to build empathy, connection, and humanity. What are your favorite strategies for global citizenship?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Who is asking for the trophies in the “Everyone Gets a Trophy” era? #TeacherMom

In each of the city recreation classes my kids have tried out, they have always ended with a trophy or medal. Why? I never asked for one. My kids never asked for one.

And yet the plastic clutter ensues, while bewildered parents also shoulder the blame for this “everyone gets a trophy culture.”

On a highly scientific poll I conducted on Twitter last week, not a single parent marked that they had ever requested these trinkets.

I’m starting to suspect that this has more to do with Alfie Kohn’s (far more scientific) research demonstrating that blaming young adults and parents is simply tradition:

“With respect to the specific claim that “kids today” are spoiled and their parents permissive, I had fun a few years ago digging up multiple examples of how people were saying exactly the same thing about the previous generation, and the one before that, and the one before that, and the one before that.”

~Alfie Kohn

Certain traditions, like providing a trophy for participants, may perpetuate amid people’s good intentions. But for parents (and teachers) facing criticism for coddling kids, may we find confidence as we continue striving to simply meet developmental needs. May we avoid perpetuating inaccurate generalizations. And may we continue to try to listen to each others’ voices and be responsive to one another.

featured image: Selbe