At the start of a new school year and after a summer break, sometimes building the excitement for the return to school needs a little boost. When it comes to sparking curiosity for learning, educators are quite creative! We have different methods, a hook for a lesson, a variety of digital and traditional tools we can use with our students. When we consider our options, we always need to focus on the underlying purpose for our choice. What are we hoping to provide for our students? How does a certain method or tool amplify their learning potential? Why change what we have been doing in our classrooms?
Preparing students with the essential skills for the future requires all educators to take some risks and create a culture for learning to spark curiosity and innovation. At times, finding ways to bring digital learning and innovation to schools can be challenging. However, when we can find one resource that provides everything in one space and is full of possibilities, it makes a big difference for us, but more importantly for our students. We need to explore methods and tools that will empower us to provide students with opportunities for risk-taking, for becoming curious for learning while also developing essential SEL skills.
As teachers, we should strive to offer different choices for our students to be able to show what they are learning and to apply their knowledge in a way that provides opportunities for them to be creative, to have fun while creating, and that will engage students more in learning. We have used Buncee for many years and with PebbleGo Create now available, there are endless possibilities for creating a culture of curiosity for learning. Students can choose from so many amazing resources to learn about topics of interest and then use PebbleGo Create to share that learning in authentic, meaningful and personalized ways.
Maintaining culture of curiosity
Getting started as we head back to school is the perfect time to dive in! Students are excited for what they are going to learn and one way to hook them in, is by selecting a focus area from the Capstone resources. There are so many topics available to choose from related to the content area being taught. Instead of using materials you already have, explore the resources available from Capstone! Look at the book collections and have students select something of interest and then see what they create! By promoting student choice, it amplifies learning as students become excited to share that learning with their peers. They will interact with one another while engaging in purposeful learning and an extra bonus, having fun in the process.
In my own classroom, I want students to enjoy learning but also be curious about what they are going to learn and how they will show that learning. Providing my students with different choices for creating with the language will not only help them to build their language skills and foster creativity but also help with the development of technology skills and promote digital citizenship as they post online and share their work.
Ideas to try
Especially at the start of the new year, there are a lot of topics that we need to bring into our classrooms. Capstone offers a diverse group of book collections that focus on important topics like equity and social justice, issues related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as health and wellness for example, that help educators to provide the right learning experiences for students to develop greater self- and social-awareness. Students may be curious about a topic but hesitant to ask about it and what better way than to provide these materials for students to explore and then use PebbleGo Create to share what they have learned. When students share their work, it sparks curiosity amongst classmates and amplifies the learning that happens.
For your content area and grade level, find a relevant subject or share the “Biographies” with students and have them choose a person to study. Within these topics, there are activities, timelines, and more that will lead students to become curious for learning. After students have time to complete the activities, they can then use PebbleGo Create to share what they have learned. With so many options, it is easier to create a culture for curiosity and creativity in your classroom with all that Capstone offers for students and teachers.
An idea to place students more in the lead is to use the “States” and ask each student to choose one of the states to learn about and then create something that shares their takeaways. Or focus on each region of the United States and give students time to choose a state in that region.
With the states, there are activities, videos, timelines, and even recipes, so much to really draw students in and boost engagement in learning. It is so much fun to create and have so many choices in PebbleGo Create! We also learn about our students from the choices they make and what they choose to create!
When we offer more choices, we provide more hands-on, meaningful, and student-driven learning. With new ideas, we can boost student engagement and creativity, help to spark curiosity for learning and student needs can be better met. By bringing in new technologies and opportunities, we better prepare students with the skills that they will need moving forward.
Using a method like genius hour for example, and asking students to explore an area of interest and then “share their genius” or doing project-based learning (PBL) are more great ways to boost engagement in learning and place students in the lead more. Students need opportunities to explore their passions, design their own problems or challenges, and as a result, they will start to focus more on the learning process itself. Students will wonder what comes next for them and be motivated to continue learning and growing! To best prepare students for the future, we need to offer experiences that promote curiosity, student-driven independent learning, and help them to work through productive struggle, to reflect, and continue on their learning journey.
What I love about using Buncee and PebbleGo Create is that they help educators to amplify student learning through the right tools that enable each student, educator, or anyone to visually communicate learning, thoughts, and experiences and create something unique. It gives students a ton of options and a safe space to explore and find exactly what they need.
See the creativity come through your student work and even your own. Have fun creating!
About the Author
Rachelle Dené is a Spanish and STEAM Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She is the author of sevens books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU” “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World”, “True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us,” “Your World Language Classroom: Strategies for In-person and Digital Instruction” and “Things I Wish [..] Knew.” All books are available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.
Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU available at https://anchor.fm/rdene915
Rachelle is available for in-person and virtual PD sessions for your school.
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