While visiting classrooms, I observe the learning of students. I am interested to hear the questions that teachers ask as well as the questions the students ask. Right before the winter break, I was in Ms. Davis’ first grade classroom. Her students had just experienced a book that was read to them. Students broke into groups and moved around the room to different posters. On the posters, there were questions about the text. Students worked together to discuss and scribe their own ideas. What I found amazing was the idea that first graders immediately began to discuss the book. They listened to each other, asked clarifying questions, disagreed and then came to consensus. Ms. Davis moved around the room, listening to conversation and inserting only clarifying questions.

I see this sort of student engagement all over Joyner. Students are asked to discuss and talk about their ideas and what they are learning. Kindergarteners explain their ideas on how to do math. Other kindergarteners ask the clarifying questions. Third graders are given opportunity to explore different ideas coming up with multiple answers and avenues towards solutions. Fifth graders begin to seek on their own further answers with the questions they raise.

I believe the nature of our school and the IB magnet program lends itself to engaging students in inquiry. But what I notice even more from staff this year is pushing this idea further. Student engagement is critical in helping them to truly process information and make the meaning for themselves. Teachers guide and nurture. They model wondering as well.

Our classrooms are a bit noisier with these discussions. I notice that our students generally are also more comfortable in talking about their learning with me as well. This learning is amazing to watch. It is exciting to watch our students also given more ownership in their learning. Grateful to our courageous teachers for this work.

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