Monday, May 26, 2014


I am not sure what other title to give this post, because the learning first graders do every day is nothing short of just that--amazing. But something special happened in our classroom on May 15th, and the memory of it sticks with me even now, almost two weeks later.

The question was raised--and truthfully I don't even remember why--"What do butterflies use to taste?" Naturally, several students shared what they thought was the correct answer. Healthy debate ensued. I had a lovely reading mini-lesson planned that day. I scrapped it. It was good, but it could wait. The energy and desire to find answers was sizzling in our classroom that day.  I couldn't miss this opportunity. I presented students with the simple challenge: Since we don't agree on the answer to this question, let's find out! I asked them, "How could we find the answer?" I was a happy teacher when students mentioned both digital and print sources. Our research and inquiry mindset is starting to show--in an authentic context!

Some students went to the library for books. Some students got online and search (a great kid-friendly search engine). Some used a subscription research site we have, PebbleGo. Others scoured our classroom library for books on the topic. Students worked alone, in pairs, and in groups. Some wrote about their findings, some drew, and some talked through their thinking together. It was wonderful--reading, writing, and wondering for a real purpose!

Using PebbleGo to try to find the answer...

Presenting his findings!
When we came back together, we looked at the evidence I had been collecting from students on an online "pinboard," Padlet. Some of their sources are pictured there. Many students shared their thinking and evidence aloud in front of the class. In the end, we all agreed that we had learned something new, and some even admitted their original thinking was wrong (a HUGE step for a first grader--believe me)!  It was AMAZING! I wish all of you could have been there. By the way, ask your first grade if he/she remembers what butterflies use to taste...

Here's our Padlet:

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