Cool Investigation Station: Update Week 1

Our first week with our "Cool Investigation Station" was a success and a hit with my students!  As predicted, they rushed over to this station as soon as they walked in the room and wanted to know what we are going to be doing.  I loved that!

This week, I really just wanted my students to begin thinking about solids and liquids and their properties.  The first couple of days, I let the students just explore the books and work with the solids & liquids sort I put out for them.  Students sorted items into solids or liquids.  They worked together with other kids on this.  (Read previous post about how I use my investigation station as a Daily 5 choice here.)

After sorting, students wrote one post-it note to tell me why they thought an item was a solid or a liquid.  Before allowing them to work here independently, I had the students gather around on the first day and I taught them what was at the station and how they could use the materials.  I asked them to be specific when explaining why an item was either solid or liquid.

Their thinking always amazes me!  I wish I had taken a photo of my favorite response (I was in a hurry to leave for the day), which said "School glue is a liquid because it is sticky".  That is genius.  Let that sink in for a moment.  We could do a whole study just on that.  #kidsareamazing.

Oh!  We also came up with two questions for inquiry.  I hung these up hovering over our investigation station so they are there to remind the kids their goal.
1.  Why does snow sometimes melt when the sun is out and when it's cloudy?  Why does the snow NOT melt sometimes when it's sunny?

2.  During Winter Break it rained... a lot!  There was lots of flooding.  Why didn't it snow?  It was December, doesn't it usually snow during the holidays?

I will tell you that these are questions that I came up with.  I used to think that true inquiry HAD to be wholly directed by student questions and I was a "doing it wrong" if I put in my 2 cents.  Well, after studying more on inquiry based learning and PBL (project based learning), I have discovered that we, as teachers, CAN drive the questions.  Students will of course have their own questions, too, and they can absolutely pursue those as well; however, it's important that the work we are doing is focused on learning the standards.  In this case, we are focusing on our science standards around solids & liquids and math standards around temperature.  So, the teacher drives the questions, but makes sure there is voice and choice for the students. 

As with any PBL project, it begins with a problem.  So, I played this up big time that there were 2 questions I was wondering about and that I needed their help to figure it out.  They are always ALL OVER helping me figure out a problem.  Keeping with giving students voice and choice, the students chose which question they want to research.  They will drive the research and decide how they want to present it to the class.  They chose partners to work with, or whether they wanted to work solo (no one did).

So, we are off and running on our PBL around solids, liquids, and snow/ice/rain!

Up next week:  We will learn more about solids & liquids through mini lessons and "cool" science experiments.  We'll also be visiting the computer lab to do some research with our partners.  And, of course, I'm working on getting new things to explore into the investigation station.

I'll post more next week as we progress!  If you are reading this, thank you so much for coming along for the ride!  Please follow my blog and FB page for updates.

Thank you so much, and have a wonderful weekend!

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