I read a book…

Inquiry isn’t an isolated lesson. It isn’t only “done” when one is studying a unit of inquiry. It isn’t just for science or for social studies. I’d like to share a student’s thinking and inquiring as he tells me about his reading.

For background, in my class, once during a 7 day cycle, students write a letter to me about their reading. It can be something they read in school or at home. The idea is that they get to practise reading strategies they learn in class, particularly goals they have set for themselves. When I get the letter, I write back to each student. We do this all year. It is a great way for me to see and hear their thinking. The letters are personal. They aren’t shared, although occasionally I will ask if it is ok to share a letter or part of a letter, if I feel it is inspiring!

The letters are all written in a book. It is a wonderful document to look at in June. ( the end of the year for us) One sees such growth!

In his letters, Jiwhang often tells about connections he makes, tells of things that surprised him, misconceptions he has had, wonderings and questions that he has. I love to correspond with a student who writes a letter like this.
Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs via Compfight cc

Dear mrs. Buckley,

Thank you very much for your letter. It’s fine with me if you read my letter to the class.

To answer your question, the old man in “Woodsong” was not the author’s imagination. He gave the author physical help by helping him load his luggage back onto his sled after the sled fell down a slope.

I read the book “Space Travel” by Ian Graham. This book is about space exploration, as well as various things about space.

While reading this book, I was reminded of when Korea’s Naro rocket succeeded in launching a satellite into space after two failed attempts, on January 2013. Many countries around the world, including Korea, are working hard to develop new and advanced space technologies.

I found the fact that spacecraft could venture out of the solar system suprising, since I thought that probes and spacecraft could only stay inside the solar system.

While reading this book, I found the fact that astronauts get taller in space interesting. That happens because in space, due to the zero-gravity situation, an astronaut’s spine stretches, resulting in the astronaut becoming taller. When the astronaut returns to Earth, his or her’s height returns to normal.

I have one question in my head. The first satellite, Sputnik 1, was made of aluminum. Since aluminum is not very durable, wouldn’t the crushing pressures of outer space end up flattening or heavily damaging the satellite so that it can’t work?

Sincerely,

JW

About lindybuckley1

I am an elementary, international school teacher who enjoys travelling, art, music, photography, natural history, archaelology, cooking and history - in fact almost anything....
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19 Responses to I read a book…

  1. I READ A BOOK

    I read a book, on comets and stars,
    On galaxies near and far.
    Lazing on my sofa, reading on the bus,
    Reading anytime anywhere, without a fuss!

    I read a book, as it has many thoughts to share,
    Of unknown people, who become heroes because they dare.
    Sometimes, many new facts I learn,
    Sometimes, brownie points I earn!

    I read for pleasure, or for critical information,
    I also read for appreciating the author’s imagination!
    Sometimes I read two a week, sometimes four…
    All that my mind says, ‘Give me more, give me more!’

    By Abhimanyu Das Gupta

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  2. Devika Elvin says:

    Loved the letter written by Jiwhang. Even though it is a personal communication between the two of you, a lot of his inquisitions can be answered when you answer his letter. Loved the idea. Can’t wait to implement it soon.
    Abhimanyu, your poem is brilliant!

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  3. Supriyaa says:

    loved the poem Abhimanyu!!
    the idea of writing letters to students seems BRILLIANT 🙂
    I would want to do this with my 5th Graders….what an insight it will give into each child’s mind.
    i am sure it will help me know the side of the child which i may miss during my regular classes. A great way to personally connect with each one.

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  4. Supriyaa, that’s right. It is the personal connection that is most valuable. You learn a lot more about each student than just how they are reading. Of course I have 20 in my class… could be more difficult if I had 36 like I did when I started teaching…
    Lindy

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  5. kath Murdoch says:

    What a lovely post Lindy! And yes….inquiry is so much more than ‘units!’ – I love the way that culture is developing ay JIS. The connection you have with this student – the trust that is so evident in his letter is a great reminder that inquiry learning both builds AND depends on authentic, respectful relationships. Beautiful.

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    • Thank you, Kath. He is a sweet kid! But not the only one of course. And I am losing him in December – the international student! I am glad you see positive changes when you come to visit!
      Lindy

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  6. Benjamin Barrington-Higgs says:

    Hi Lindy, thanks for your post and your other posts, ‘legacies’ and ‘see, think, wonder’. I always find your posts really thought provoking and valuable when it comes to thinking about my school and the way we approach inquiry.

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  7. Hi Ben, great to hear from you! Glad you find the posts useful!
    Lindy

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  8. Prashani says:

    Hi Lindy,

    I love the responses and feedback from both parties. Yes inquiry is so much more than just an isolated lesson. In fact you are creating a very special relationship with your students this way. You have also given the student the ownership of their work. In my class with my first graders I write little notes to them about their stories but I think I might like to extend this where they write letters about their writing to me as well. Thank you for inspiring me.

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  9. Hi Prashani,
    Last year I tried this same approach with writing about learning as opposed to just reading, but for some reason it wasn’t as successful. I think it is the power of the book that generates the desire to share with someone else the experience you get from reading. Let me know how your letters go!
    Lindy

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  10. Prashani says:

    Lindy, have you got your own blog?

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  11. Jodie Viviano says:

    so I have a question – how do you manage all of the letters? Do you have them on different rotations so you only have a few each day? I feel this would be daunting to keep up on, although I love the idea!!

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  12. Hi Jodie,
    Yes, I do 4 each day. I have them spread over a 6 day period (as we have a 7 day cycle) and day 7 is for anyone who forgot their day! This is also part of our “getting ready for Middle School Homework” preparation. E.g. your letter is due on Day 2, but you can write it any day that suits you, preferably do it before the due date! I find it manageable, even if I miss a day and have 8 books! When I had flu a few weeks back and came back to school with 15 books, I printed a letter to all and pasted it in! It’s just such a worthwhile exercise.
    Lindy

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  13. Aurora says:

    I like the and of this but just trying to think of logistics for 60 students spread over two year 8 classes. Might need to be over a longer period but think I will have a go at this. I want students to consider how their books might enable them to inquire into the new MYP Global Contexts. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. Hi Aurora,
    You know I think if I had that many, I’d have them email me and then I’d be able to have some generic replies that I could adapt easily to individual replies…
    Lindy

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  15. Pingback: I read a book | An educator called Life

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