Children are natural questioners. Young children especially ask why over and over and over as a way of learning about the people in their lives, their communities, and the world in which they live. That inquisitiveness grows to include questions of “how” and “when” and “if..” as they learn and develop and is the basis of our Conscious Acts of Caring lesson which closes out the Building Community theme in our Don’t Laugh at Me curriculum.
That natural curiosity is the foundation for what is called “inquiry based learning,” which engages students in learning through posing, investigating and answering their own questions. Our lesson begins with the following observation: “Research shows that reinforcing positive behaviors is an effective way to develop these behaviors in children.” Consider an alternative to the word “reinforcing” such as “practicing” or even “noticing.” “Noticing” is at the heart of inquiry-based lessons.
Student Based Learning
What would an inquiry lesson look like for “Conscious Acts of Caring”? Let’s start with some questions:
- What is caring? What does caring look like? What evidence is there of caring in our community?
What if your students walked around with their research clipboards and interviewed their classmates, friends and adults with some of these questions. What if they spent a day noticing things, even the littlest things, that they do that are caring and things that other folks do that are caring? They can jot them down, then the class can share them by writing them on chart paper or a white board to see what they all look like. What do they notice about them? Are there categories? Can they be grouped in different ways?
Another question they can inquire about:
- Why are kindness and caring important to us?
We can try to have our children answer it themselves or it can be another inquiry question. If each student asks this question of 10 people and there are 23 students in our class, we will have 230 responses to chart and discuss. What conclusions can the students draw as a group? How might they answer this question differently before versus after the inquiry?
- How is caring contagious?
Another possible inquiry question after perhaps some discussion about what this question means. There are some really good videos on the theme of paying it forward. They show people who experience an act of kindness or caring and it dawns on them to follow it with an act of caring to someone else. Is it possible to set up a continuum of caring in your own class?
And on and on… Building your classroom lessons on curiosity and inquiry provides an endless number of combinations and explorations of the content in which your students are most interested. Enjoy!
Please share your ideas and stories about how you get from here to there in exploring Conscious Acts of Caring! We’ll post them to our Facebook page. Please assure that there is parental permission for photos or videos and send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.