When each new unit of inquiry is launched, teachers tune in and provoke students thinking with a carefully planned learning experience meant to get students thinking about the concepts and ideas that are about to be explored over the next six weeks. A provocation may be a journal prompt, debate, music selection (just to name a few) or in the case of our first grade, a short video clip. The purpose of a provocation is to get the students questioning and spark curiosity about the concepts and topics in the unit of inquiry. Ultimately, the teacher wants the students engaged and sitting at the edge of their seats as they await for the inquiry to unfold!
Our first grade is currently in their Sharing the Planet unit. Within the unit, the students learn about the different bodies of water on our planet, explore the idea of water as a limited resource as well as its accessibility around the world. The students were shown a group of photos, each depicting a different perspective of water. Together, the teacher and students evaluated the first photo, jotting down the different things/people/etc. they noticed in the picture. The students were then prompted to share their wonderings about what they were seeing in the photo. In small groups, the students visited the other photos around the classroom, adding to the Notice/Wonder t-chart.
Both the water video clip and photos provoked and sparked student curiosity to ask questions about a seemingly basic topic such as water! The first grade teachers in turn use these questions as the driving force for learning experiences in the classroom, giving value to the student questions, in turn modeling for students the importance of questioning in the learning process.