Reflecting on the I WONDER Sessions

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The inquiry approach gives our students the freedom to follow their curiosity and it is the teacher’s role to guide them on this exciting journey. At the beginning of the unit after the natural curiosity of our students is stimulated by provocation activities, they are often eager to take the inquiry in a different direction. The teachers, on the other hand, have to follow their lesson plans and make sure the curriculum is being followed. It’s important for teachers to nurture the students’ curiosity and find a balance and make connections between what the students need to learn and what they want to learn. It may not always be possible, however, choosing the right questions can solve this puzzle.

While taking part in the I WONDER sessions, my Grade3 ELLs often need a piece of advice and some guidance in their choice of inquiry direction. To support our students’ motivation and interests we have to carefully listen to their wonderings and help them formulate their questions. The teacher should become a thought partner and assist their discoveries. It’s a great opportunity to teach the students how to ask effective questions.

Subsequently, the outcome of the I WONDER sessions is made more fruitful, for which it is also essential to create criteria for the students, gaging what was the wondering in focus and how valuable are the findings. Students should be provided with opportunities to prove that they learned something and to share their discoveries with others.

Using ideas from the book “Scaffolding for English Language Learners” Anne Goudvis, Stephanie Harvey, Brad Buhrow, Anne Upczak-Garcia, I have created a set of scaffolding cards for my students. This tool supports my students in their attempts to share their discoveries with the rest of the class. When the time comes for my students to put some notes together and get ready for sharing, they can choose a card with sentence starters that they like and write down their thoughts and discoveries and make more connections. Thinking routines like “I used to think…., but now I think…” can be employed as well.

Being guided through the I WONDER sessions, the students come out with a more profound and meaningful understanding of the topic that had initially sparked their curiosity and ultimately they become stronger independent learners.

2 thoughts on “Reflecting on the I WONDER Sessions”

  1. Tatiana – I love the sound of your scaffolding cards based on your research (I love, love, love anything that Stephanie Harvey does too!) I really liked the cards that Kath Murdoch shared with us, I can’t remember what she called them, but they worked great with us teachers…and I have seen them used in other classrooms too, that might be another idea to add to your toolbox.

    1. Thank you Paula! My goal was to scaffold the I Wonder written or oral response for my students for them to be able to share their findings with their peers. I find the idea of sentence starters or substitution tables invaluable as it gives our EAL students the language means to express their ideas more or less independently and experience the success of being understood and even being an expert in something.

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