Tuesday, March 4, 2014

inquiring into...cockroaches?

Yep, it’s true. After finding a cockroach in our classroom yesterday, students were having all kinds of interesting conversations (and reactions!) about our gross little friend. After some observation, the poor guy was eventually killed. I was really tuned into their conversations - comments ranged from "It's so gross!" to "Why did we have to kill such an innocent creature?" to "Ew ew ew ew ew. Ew!" (Alright, so that last one might have been me...) 
Well, thanks to Wonderopolis and their timely daily wondering (sent straight to my inbox), it turns out that if you find one in your “house,” it really is best to get rid of it! (Not that that necessarily means killing it, but no one was exactly brave enough to pick it up and carry it out…)
So today, we inquired into cockroaches. Two words: totally engaged. We started a Harvard Visible Thinking routine called“Connect-Extend-Challenge” to track our thoughts. The students first shared and then wrote about or diagrammed their connections – prior knowledge, stories, experience, feelings, and reactions to cockroaches. [For the parent blog we keep, I took videos of some kids sharing their thoughts at each stage of the Connect-Extend-Challenge, which was the perfect way to really make thinking visible!]
Afterward, we watched a video

and then used some information from Wonderopolis to learn more about the pesky little cockroach. This article was great because it also loosely connected with our inquiry into energy, as it’s titled “Could a Cockroach Survive A Nuclear War?” We read it together and students wrote some ways their thinking had been extended by the new information: What have you learned? What is really interesting to you? How has your thinking changed or been extended?
We then discussed some of the crazy info: “They’ll eat anything! Even soap…”; “They can hold their breath underwater for thirty minutes!”; “They can live for up to six weeks without a meal!” [What?! I can hardly go an hour these days!] After, students wrote down questions that were still challenging their thinking or understanding about cockroaches: What new wonderings came up? How can you learn more about cockroaches? I was quite surprised to hear students who thought cockroaches were simply disgusting in the beginning, really marveling over just how amazing these resilient little creatures are!
So there you have it – our inquiry into, that’s right, cockroaches! The class did a pretty great job making connections, extending their thinking, and then challenging their understanding of this all-too-familiar Manila staple. [They still freak me out.]

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