It's all about the bees. Yep, bees--my kids are buzzing about bees.
In an earlier blog, I talked a bit about my goal of including more informational text in classroom this year. One purpose was to take advantage of kids' natural curiosity--to keep that sense of wonder about the world going strong...and maybe entice them to read and write a bit along the way. So when the kids kept returning to the books on insects and spiders and asking if I had more, I fell into the (Venus fly) trap.
I was certain the fact that my friend Miss M. has a tarantula in her classroom would completely grab their attention--and they were impressed. At the research center they recorded some questions for Miss M.'s class and we sent them off. But that was that--they are content to hear from her kids on this one.
Then little M. handed me a book about bees and asked if I'd read it. I will admit that inside, I heaved a little sigh--insects are not my favorite topic. Outwardly, I smiled and told him of course I would. We spent a little time each morning last week reading that book--just 2-4 pages a day. We talked. We looked at the photos and drawings and diagrams. We reread parts. They begged for more, and every day as they entered the room, I'd have to reassure each and every one of them that yes, I would be reading more of the bee book today. On the day we got a new student, the kids caught her up before we continued. They LOVED that book--and the bees. There was an almost palpable disappointment when we came the end. One little sweetie moaned, "isn't there any more?"
Not only are they still talking about that book, but it has a place of honor on the counter in the research center--right next to the large plain paper and blank booklets they requested I provide so those who wish to can make books or posters about bees. Or just write and draw what they remember or thought was really cool. They are noticing and sharing photos of bees and sections about bees in other books. It's almost as if they've developed a little crush on bees.
The really cool thing is that it's working--my master plan, that is. I trusted that if I deliberately created the environment and intentionally provided the opportunity, the kids' sense of curiosity would guide them to engaged reading and writing. I also noted an increased level of oral language--both in terms of the vocabulary (general and specific) they were using, and in the complexity of their asking and telling. The day one of my ELLs (English Language Learners) brought me a picture of a bee in a magazine saying, "look--you can see his proboscis sucking the nectar from the flower" I almost couldn't respond. She's six. She does not speak English at home.
Now, is every child in my room a total bee expert? No. But all of them have learned some stuff that they will likely remember and all of them spent a little more time purposefully talking about and reading informational text and many of them are writing as a direct result of our little study.
And you know what? I've decided that I'm pretty hooked on the bees too...they really are fascinating little things.