I didn't get much of a break during the school holidays, so felt ill prepared to head back into school. I knew it would all be fine once I got back into things, and boy has it been fine.
Our inquiry topic this term is 'leisure and entertainment', which is awesome. Its broad enough that you can take it where you/your class wants, and cool enough to keep the kids interested no matter where it goes. I was really excited about this topic.
For the first couple weeks of school, I really wanted my students to do a history focus on the 'leisure and recreation'. I myself love learning about history, and wanted to pass this onto my kids. I wanted them to understand the bigger picture of leisure and entertainment
Why do we even have leisure time?
Have we always had it?
What activities do people do?
Does what we do for leisure activities change over time?
What influences these changes?
What activities have endured throughout history, and why have they been so successful?
How can society shape what is considered fun?
Hence, we launched our inquiry on Monday morning by reading a non-fiction text about the beginning of the 'entertainment industries' in the 20th century. The text itself was a little repetitive, but the kids didn't seem to notice or care.
Even with this one reading, we began exploring what the word century means, what BC/AD are (and how time goes backwards, what?!), the influence of laws on people and their work, how not having paid work leave affected people (i.e. they never took holidays because they couldn't afford it), what a normal 'working' week was considered to be and how this changed over time, when different entertainment tools (i.e. radio, TV, commercial flight for travel) were invented and how much they cost at the time and so much more.
We had AMAZING discussions.
I mentioned off-hand to them that TV was in black and white in those days, and they were dumb-founded. So I showed them clips of the famous Charlie Chaplin and explained why they had no audio, that they were called Silent-films, etc etc. I was so surprised, as my little Maori and Pasifika children in the middle of Panmure were cracking up at Charlie Chaplin getting stuck in a lions cage.
At this point, I was dumbfounded.
The kids spent the next 20 minutes independently researching, watching and laughing at silent films. WHAT?
They were so into the topic and it made my heart soar.
If a non-fiction text about a law change in 1939 could bring about all that, this term is going to go well.
On Tuesday, I gave my kids a massive stack of non-fiction books I had gotten from our school library. Now for context, my kids really struggle with non-fiction texts, especially the lower-ability ones.
I chose actual physical books on purpose, as I wanted them to see that they aren't scary, that they can read them and learn from them. (The internet isn't the only way to research).
My instruction to them was pretty much - pick a book, read it, find something interesting and record it on the brainstorm. (We had a brainstorm for each civilisation).
They literally filled them.
One kid even said to me 'Miss this is so interesting can we keep doing this' as she left for morning tea. I almost cried.
In the afternoon they chose a civilisation they were interested in, and began researching it in depth (and were allowed to use the internet if they wanted).
Nobody fought. They were pretty even groups. I didn't have to force anyone to do Victorian England. They wanted to, they chose.
That afternoon I had the BEST conversations with my kids.
'Miss, why are they putting leeches on him?' - Victorian Era group
'Miss, what are the things in the containers by the mummies feet?' - Egyptian group
'Miss, why did Queen Victoria marry her cousin, thats gross' - Victorian Era group
'Miss, did they really worship cats?' - Egyptian group
'Miss, where is Greece?' - Ancient Greece group
'Miss, what does Scandinavia mean?' - Vikings group
'Miss, whats the difference between a country and a continent'? - multiple groups
'Miss, why did they bury stuff with the dead body?' - Egyptian group
'Miss, why didn't woman have the same rights as men?' - Roman Empire group
'Miss, what's a cock and why is it fighting?' - Victorian Era group
IT. WAS. THE. BEST. EVER.
Today they continued working on their research.
I noticed that throughout the hour, more and more of the library books got pulled out of the shelf and were being used to research from. It became a preference for them.. to read a real physical book, rather than use the internet.
The rebirth of non-fiction books in my classroom.
They even came and asked to read those instead of fiction for buddy reading time.
What is happening!
I asked them today to go and comment on our class blog, but their comment had to be something they had learnt from that lesson.
If you have a minute, read through the comments and see how much the kids learnt in a day.
Again, I almost cried.
I am so happy with how the first few days of school have gone. I feel that launching this inquiry has gone very well as the kids are so excited about their learning, asking quality questions and starting deep discussions.