So yesterday I finally did it…I started my first inquiry based project with strange new kids. You see, I moved to 5th grade and my incredible team and I decided that we would shuffle our kids for math and a hybrid reading/social studies class. What this means for the kids is that they are getting more attention, being taught at their level, and are being challenged appropriately. It also means that I get to have all 73 5th graders, which has been wonderful, but very different. I no longer just have my kids to support but all of these new ones. So I have been a little hesitant to pull out inquiry based projects druing this reading time, after all, my kids know the expectations and how to do it well but the other kids are a gamble.
Yet, that voice inside of me kept urging me to do it, to trust the kids, to believe in them and their ability to be natural learners. I could not quiet it or dismiss it any longer. So the project is simple; they are in groups of 7 assigned one topic and within that topic there are 4 questions they have to answer. How they answer them is up to them. They can create one large project or mini projects. All I care about is that they present something to me within the next 10 days.
My fears faded immediately when I saw the excitement the kids had when I introduced the project, the concern over whether or not I really meant it when I said they could do anything. Was this some sort of a trick? Where are the restrictions? How come this teacher isn’t telling them exactly what to do? They were thrilled and they got right to work. To step back and see these kids emerge as leaders and undertakers is truly magical. I would never have been able to create that kind of excitement for this project without them taking control.
So once again my fears have been proven wrong. Sure it may get messy and there will certainly be obstacles, but isn’t that what true learning is really about? Trying, failing, and then trying again. I am so glad that I shut myself up and got out of the way so these kids can have a chance to figure out, to try something, and perhaps even to fail because through that they get the chance to soar.