Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Opening Minds Ch. 4-6

As I continue my virtual learning journey with Peter Johnston's book:  Opening Minds. I read through the next three chapters and again noticed the same pattern for me.  It is not what we say as teachers it is how we say it.  I am continuing to highlight and circle the page (my personal text connections) if there is a phrase that I want to add to my index card so that next school year I can begin to alter my choice of words.  I need help with the key phrases, so I will put the card on my clip board until the phrases become my own.

As I previewed the table of contents when I started the book, I automatically wanted to read Chapter 5: Any Other Ways to Think about That?  Inquiry, Dialogue, Uncertainty and Difference. Those four focus words caught my attention, but I waited until I finally got to chapter 5.

Inquiry:  Automatically in my mind I think of Wonderopolis and building wonder in my classroom.  Inquiry is the basis of questioning and learning. Johnston connects "Uncertainty is the foundation of inquiry and research." I envision this statement like a chain locked fence and all three together build a higher level foundation in my classroom.  I also was reinforced as he discussed the importance of teachers allowing students to see them be uncertain, to ask questions, to admit that they might not know the answer.  I am all about that in my class already! Another powerful tool he suggests is sticky notes, to allow students the chance to wonder.  Leaving a picture book open to an illustration and have students leave their thinking on the note and then come back later to continue reading the book.  I loved how that gives every student a voice in my classroom.  Finally I think I have my first bulletin board heading:  What does a conversation sound like if there is confusion?  Reinforcing the idea that confusion builds learning and inquiry.

Dialogue "A classroom is one in which there are lots of open questions and extended exchanges among the students." This opening sentence made me stop to pause and reflect.  The key for me goes back to my opening paragraph and key phrases that allow for open questions.  With the extended discussions, students are able to comprehend more difficult texts (ie: van den Branden)  which connects with Common Core.  The students would be focused on meaning and taking responsibility for their own learning through extended dialogue conversations.  For those students who are not connecting, I am thinking about using the sticky notes differently this year so all students have a voice in conversations.   For example, post an opening day question allow students to reflect, post and then begin the conversations later in the day.  Finally another bulletin board idea might be:  What are the tools for growing minds?  Something else for me to reflect on as I read the next three chapters.

This week's #CyberPD is hosted by Jill Fisch at My Primary Passion.  Thank you for hosting this week. I am very excited to read the other blog posts and continue my learning.


  1. Maria,

    I love your thought:

    "Reinforcing the idea that confusion builds learning and inquiry."

    I think this is so important for all of us to do all day long. It might be uncomfortable at first for some students but the results will definitely be worth it.


  2. Maria, I love your thoughts. I really liked the idea of leaving a book open and sticky notes for kids to go back later in the day. It allows for a community of learners to share their learning together. I think inquiry is an integral part of the Common Core and providing time for students to really think, wonder, and reflect on their learning is crucial to an "Open Minds" classroom.

    Thank you so much for a thoughtful post. I love learning alongside all of these wonderful educators.


  3. Isn't it powerful that, as we're reading, we're all making notes and cheat sheets until we can internalize Peter's words? I love that! I enjoyed reading more about your classroom and what you value. One of my major goals this year is to provide more time for inquiry and wonder. I'll look forward to having you as one of my cyber-mentors!

  4. I had the same feelings you did! It took everything in me to not open to the inquiry chapter immediately! I am glad that I waited though...understanding the dynamic view emphasizes his inquiry points even more!

    Your bulletin board idea has my wheels turning!

    PS...I tried to email you but it did not go through...I will try again :)

  5. This chapter was practically written for YOU!!

  6. Maria,
    Your work with Wonderopolis has caused me to think more about wonder. Reading "A Place for Wonder" has continued this journey. Johnston's discussion about uncertainty and inquiry added another layer. Your idea for having your students consider the sound I'd these conversations, "What does a conversation sound like if there is confusion?" seems a place to begin. I will look forward to following this journey.


  7. The idea of uncertainty is a powerful one - totally agree with you. Inquiry, asking questions, reflecting - such powerful gifts for our students. And like you, reading others posts is helping me grow and rethink many things.

  8. Thanks everyone for your comments I learn as much or even more from comments and the reflection after I read them. I really enjoy how we all choose our favorite part and then pull it all together through comments.

  9. Maria,
    I really love the connections you are making to your classroom. Wondering about what picture books you might use to try this technique at the beginning of fifth grade. I also hope you will be writing more about how kids respond to your question about "What does a conversation sound like when there's confusion?" I'm wondering what kinds of answers they will come up with. And like everyone else, I am making a cheat sheet!

  10. I, too, am creating a cheat sheet to keep with me so that I can be reminded of the types of conversations I want to have with my students. I love using Wonderopolis in my classroom and all of this conversation is helping me think of even more possibilities. I wholeheartedly agree with you that it's important for our students to see us show uncertainty. We can all learn from each other.

  11. Maria,
    I love this idea!!!
    What does a conversation sound like if there is confusion? Reinforcing the idea that confusion builds learning and inquiry.

    I can picture myself revisiting this chart many times throughout the course of the school year as new units are introduced. Sometimes kids need language cheat sheets just like teachers do!!


  12. I, too, am very intrigued by your bulletin board idea. Please keep us posted as to how it goes!

  13. As the comments continue, I just keep adding to my virtual notes. I am so thankful for the feed back and most of all for the encouragement to try some of the new ideas from the book. I am excited to put up my new bulletin boards and just allow the students time to ponder the answers.