Update: Letting Imaginations Go Free

Last week I blogged about the social studies projects that had been undertaken by my students in my grade four practicum classroom. The Hour of Wonder projects had taken on a life of their own and despite the title had simply not taken one hour! Needless to say once the various projects were completed the results were amazing!

What amazed me through this whole endeavor into letting the students choose what they wanted to learn, was the diversity in the topics chosen. One group of students were interested in the Yukon and the politics behind the decision of its formation. Although the information was a bit difficult to gather their project grew from a simple question of why it formed into a study all about the Yukon its symbols, demographics and interesting points of information. Another student chose to study what animals survived the ice age and what exactly an ice age was.  Yet another group decided a study of Inuit culture was in order and proceeded to do an in depth study of their language, traditions and ways of life. The list goes on, topics included: the Northern lights, various arctic animals, Inuktitut and a Lego model of the arctic landscape.

At the beginning of this week the students were bursting with excitement to start presenting what they had learnt! One by one each group came up and spoke about what they had learnt along their research journey. A whole class share provides students with a relevant audience and an opportunity to feel successful. Each and every student came up and presented, and you could just see the pride in their faces as they did so!

One of the most important and meaningful parts of my assessment of the projects was the students self-reflections on their learning. In addition to having the rubric visible to each student during the project. At the end they were asked to think about their learning process during the project and about what worked and what didn’t work for them.

The questions were:

  • What did you like about this project?
  • Did you learn anything new through this project?
  • What did you not like about the project?
  • What would you change about the project if you did it again?

Self-reflection brings the learning process full circle for the students. They start at what they wanted to know and look back on what they learnt. It also gives them an opportunity to think about their learning.

As a new teacher the self-reflection feedback is invaluable to me. It gives me further insight into the success of the Hour of Wonder project framework and the needs of students. It gives me feedback on what worked well and what I should change when I use this framework again.

As I look back on the whole process of the wonder hour projects. I definitely think I will be using the idea again in my classroom. There may be a few tweaks depending on the group of students I am with at that time but to me  the opportunity to drive ones own learning gives students that little extra motivation they need to push their understandings and learning. In addition to broadening student content knowledge and upping student engagement it develops a number of other important skills including group work, collaboration, research, writing and artistic skills. (To name a few!) The possibilities are endless and the learning is amazing!
Memento #2
C.C. By RorschachPixels

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