Since moving into my an early years educator, teacher as researcher has been my role and now feels like the only natural way to approach my students. What I love so much about the PYP and inquiry learning, within the focus of a unit of inquiry student questions are used to drive the inquiry. When we begin our unit with a provocation(s) that is designed to spark the students interests, I then put on my researcher hat and observe how they interact with the new materials in the environment and record what interests are emerging.
Teacher as Researcher
One example of a student inquiry that emerged was in a unit about the systems within a community. Three girls in my class were fascinated by ice cream shops and wanted to create their own, which they were doing each day by making ice cream out of loose parts and paper. As a teacher researcher, their play got to a certain point where it needed to be extended. So together we visited the librarian in search of some books related to their inquiry. This was a decision I thought about, what type of source is best to teach the students about finding a reliable source?
With the early years I have found that concrete examples, such as books are a great starting point to build an understanding before moving to the more abstract (online). We collected our books and then used the information we found to evaluate a video about an ice cream shop. By researching together and developing our prior knowledge we were better equipped to evaluate the online source. The video was the perfect addition because it brought the inquiry to life for the girls and gave them the excitement to further their inquiry by creating prices, signs and different containers to sell their product in.
A Daunting Task
The task of preparing kindergarten age students to be responsible digital citizens can feel quite daunting at times. What is age appropriate? Where do I begin? Resources like Common Sense Media are invaluable at these times because they provide a bank of resources that I can go to that is age appropriate and focused on a specific topic.
Being a lifelong learner is something that I try my best to model for my students each and every day and will continue to do so as I grow my knowledge in the area of digital citizenship.
What do you think makes a responsible digital citizen?