We made a visit to a kindergarten classroom at George Jay Elementary, where the teacher, Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt. Rebecca teachers in the French emersion program class which is a fairly recent addition to the school. Rebecca does research on using Inquiry with elementary students and there was plenty of evidence of inquiry in her classroom. She told us to explore her room and see what kinds of evidence of inquiry we could find. We saw a “wonder wall” which had pictures of the students with thought bubbles above their heads. The thought bubbles were laminated so that their “I wonder” statements could be written in white-board marker and easily changed throughout the year as they come up with new questions.
Other things we saw in Rebecca’s room include a “space station” made out of boxes covered in tinfoil and a kitchen centre. There was also a calming station with a bean-bag chair and a lot of different kinds of fidgets.
Rebecca talked about the process of inquiry. She starts with a provocation, or “something you see”. Some examples she gave were showing the class a gif image, and having them think about what they see, what is happening, and what might happen next; going on a walk and pointing out things in nature; or using the picture on the front cover of a book. After the provocation, the children ask questions, making connections to things they know and have experienced. Next they find out more, through pictures, books and discussion. Rebecca would kept track of how far each child was on their inquiry. The questions on the wonder wall were only for longer inquires that take a few weeks or more to complete.
I found the visit to Rebecca’s classroom very interesting. It is always good to see how teachers are actually using the things that we are learning about in our courses, such as inquiry, especially in a young primary grade.