My students and I have been studying Mars and the Solar System over the last few weeks. It's one of my favorite topics, and my passion for it has ignited more than a few of my students.
Today I came into the classroom and wrote 1:00 on the whiteboard. I just left it there and the kids were going bananas by 12:57 wanting to know what was going to happen.
At 1 I turned on the Facebook LIVE presser and we watched as the New Horizons team talked to us about Pluto, the solar system, and beyond. About 5 minutes in I asked the students if they had any questions to ask. I reminded them to keep their expectations very very very low, because by this time there were 4 Thousand Viewers! and 1900 comments and questions. But I always try to model responsible use of technology and connecting to experts is one of the best things the Internet gives us!
Several students raised their hands, I quickly combined some of the questions. One shy girl from my grade 4 group, who has struggled to find a voice in the classroom and who has struggled to find her path as a learner raised her hand and asked about a Rover on Pluto. You know, to be totally honest, I almost didn't include it. I had a short comment and wanted to let the 'big' and 'important' questions get into the mix. But I added it, because several of her classmates patted her back and told her what a good question it was.
I hit enter and the question went off to the pile.
The scientists talked and we listened with rapt attention, but I knew I couldn't devote the whole afternoon to the conference, so I decided to give them 10 minutes of the question period, and then we'd move on.
And then the very first question they answered was ours. (25 minutes in)
The class exploded in whoops and hollers when they said my name and read the comment. I stood in stunned silence before shushing the class and getting them quiet enough to hear.
When my students realized whose question they answered, and when they saw the excitement and great enthusiasm with which the scientist answered, they realized that their understanding of the world had shifted. These weren't students anymore, they were scientists and dreamers and idealists and astronauts. They weren't grade 4s or grade 7s, they were humans with agency and connection and belonging.
**Update** It's been almost 2 months since this, and that grade 4 learner is still smiling. Her effort, exploration, and resolve in the classroom has lifted off (pardon the pun) and she is on an incredible journey that will change her whole life.
I respond to Sarah, Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Smoore, Miss Sarah, (and sometimes Mom!). I have been an DL (homeschool!) teacher for 2 years and am now a proud member of the SD35 team!