So in we usher our brillant minds of tomorrow. They must learn this content and score good on the test (for many of my friends in education, their jobs hang in the balance on that one).
Students must sit quietly to hear the teacher, we haven’t time for too many questions, and no we can’t have class outside.
But, it can be different.
A classroom where students learn, in fact a haven where a sense of wonder ignites the love of learning is just around the bend.
Teachers…whether you are in a traditional classroom, portable, or teach around your kitchen table – You are the one to set the tone, teach with passion, and ignite again a sense of wonder in learning, while ensuring the content it taught!
Allow curiosity to lead.
Why? What if? How? The natural questions that come from young minds is their sense of wonder. Rather than us, as educators, squelching the fire, fan it! Yes, we have content that must be covered. No, we cannot stop teaching to answer the plethora (especially if you teach 5th and 6th graders) of questions – but we can keep post-it notes on hand and have students write these questions down. Create a “Curiouser & Curiouser” board to post them. Then direct them back to their questions later to be explored! Which leades me to the next spark, exploration.
Exploration leads to adventures.
Encourage the exploration of new materials, books, sciences, art mediums (unconventional ones too). We can’t all have a Magic School Bus like Ms. Frizzle, however begin by collecting items for your classroom that can set exploration into motion. Good literature is always a start, globes, maps, microscopes, telescopes, magnifying glasses, a karoake machine, artwork, poetry, colored pencils, a class pet, and the list goes on.
These items do not relate directly to the subject you teach? You ask, “Why have such items in my classroom?” A student’s imagination allows him to connect those items to the subject matter. Those objects ignite our sense of wonder, fill your classroom and allow for exploration!
Clouds and dandelions.
Allow the door of your classroom to lead outside, in my case it’s a giant window that we occasionaly climb out of to get our fill of sunshine, feel a breeze on our faces, and reenter ready to inhale new material. Seriously, this is good for students at any age – I do this with 5th graders to juniors and seniors in an AP class.
As minimalist as it sounds, which I am a fan of, look closely at a dandelion – blow it away, wonder at the intricasy and delicacy of a common weed. Lay on the ground with “your head in the clouds” for just a bit. Share aloud what you see, wait a few minutes until the image of a giant whale has transformed into an old man with beard. Take five minutes to allow the simple pleasures of God’s creation to awaken the senses in your students.
Introduce words that excite the mind, words, when spoken simply make you smile.
Here are three of my favorite:
Frolicsome, serendipidous, ebullience.
Admit it. You smiled when you read them.
Frolicsome:: very lively and playful.
Serendipity:: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things not looked for.
Ebullience:: the quality of lively or enthusiastic expression of thoughts or feelings.
Choose a new word a week. Challenge your students to correctly use it in regular conversation, a tweet or post, or in their journal writing.
The power of a story – those in branding know it sells! Those of us in education know it sparks the sense of wonder and the result is students learning. Storytelling engages the brain. Neural coupling (connecting listener to experience) takes place along with mutiple cortex activity happening at once. Oh, my friends, had my math teachers engaged me to be part of a story that included a rhombus, (just saying the word makes me giggle, I’m certain a good story would have come from it) I may could tell you what that is today. Sadly, I cannot. Whether you teach grammar, science dealing with electromagnetics, or you are “mathing” it up with slopes and graphing intercepts…step out of your well defined box and teach it with a story. Allow your students to become the storytellers.
Educators get your sense of wonder on! It transforms the way we teach, sparking the sense of wonder in our students that results in a love of learning.
Keep this conversation going…how do you spark a sense of wonder in your classroom? Incorporate one of these simple five sparks and let us know what happens.