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"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." - Albert Einstein
How do we inspire ALL children to learn in our classroom? Pique their curiosity! Brain research shows that people who are curious about what they learn retain more information, more quickly.
Educators need to foster “the joy of discovery, and the motivation to seek answers to what is unknown.” (Shah, et al. 2018) Below are are some ways to nurture and enhance students’ natural curiosity and thus, make learning stick.
Create a safe classroom. – A safe classroom is one where the students feel free to ask questions, take risks and have deep conversations. Learn how to create a safe learning environment in our latest book, Transformative Teaching.
Be flexible and open, - Acknowledge students by listening and being responsive to what they care about. Help students find meaningful connections to what you are teaching -- boredom transforms into curiosity. See Caralee Adams' excellent article, “Creating Curious Thinkers” which offers ideas for engaging students and also answer questions about the why curiosity is so important.
Establish a Culture of Metacognitive Questioning. - Ask rich questions and students will be inspired to seek thoughtful responses. Metacognitive questioning before, during and after learning supports student curiosity in their own learning process
Embrace risk-taking and mistake making. - When we encourage student risk-taking, and mistake making, we teach our students to have a greater willingness to change, even if it requires a great deal of effort. Valuing risk-taking supports students in acting on their curiosity, and of trying new things. Teach students to be more tolerant of distress and the unpredictable, complex world that confronts them.
Offer ample opportunities for students to think and learn together. - The brain is a social brain and learns better with other brains. Once curious about a subject, students need time to “CHEW” on their questions and ideas. Working together with others in a safe learning environment encourages students to learn from and with each other.
Create opportunities Skill Building and Feedback. - Students need to know they have ample opportunities to build their skills and get feedback from others as they learn new things. Allow time for learning, free of constraints such as the fear of failure, and offer constructive feedback. This we call time to practice “CHEW” and is an essential part of our Chunk, Chew, Check lesson planning. For more about building “Chew” time into your lessons, see our previous newsletter Chunk, CHEW, and Check - It’s how the Brain Learns Best.
Encourage Students to Ask Questions. - Encourage them to get involved in collaborative based projects and activities outside of classroom. Curiosity is contagious, children feed from each others enthusiasm and positive energy. This excellent article from Edutopia offers ideas for creating a culture of curiosity and questioning in our classrooms.
Encourage Tinkering. - This is such a old word and almost a dying concept nowadays. Tinkering means to partake in constructive, hands on ways to experiment, discover, make, build, create and just see what happens. In order to encourage tinkering, create maker spaces in your classroom. These spaces stimulate curiosity and provoke thinking outside the box. Create opportunities to tinker as writers, readers, scientists, historians, artists and more...
Value, praise and celebrate curiosity. - Be sure to note the times when students are excited about the process of learning and discovery. When you see a students engrossed in book, asking questions, exploring a great website, etc, be sure to give them a “shout out.” .
Be curious yourself. - Channel your inner toddler – be a role model for your students. By allowing your natural curiosity for what you’re teaching and what’s going on in the world around YOU will spark your students curious minds. Look around, question things, ask why, be delighted by new ideas, different ways of thinking -- they will be sure to join you when that’s how you lead.
Remember, a curious brain is a learning brain!
Happy Holidays from all of us at Kathleen Kryza’s Infinite Horizons.
Try It Out
Some Activities/Resources to help bring the content to your classroom:
Around the Web
Some meaningful, related web content:
D. Leas, Heather & Nelson, Kari & Grandgenett, Neal & Tapprich, William & Cutucache, Christine. (2017). Fostering Curiosity, Inquiry, and Scientific Thinking in Elementary School Students: Impact of the NE STEM 4U Intervention. Journal of Youth Development. 12. 103-120. 10.5195/JYD.2017.474.
Shah, P.E. et al (2018). Early Childhood Curiosity and Kindergarten Reading and Math Academic Achievement, Pediatric Research DOI: 10.1038/s41390-018-0039-3
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