Senior Kindergarten, JICS Lab School
Never in my wildest dreams - or nightmares, for that matter - had I ever imagined being in the position of starting an Inquiry with 22 five year olds, online. The very idea seemed not only entirely implausible but fundamentally against every pedagogical belief I hold dear regarding hands on learning, connection, and building community through shared experience, dialogue, and mutually constructing an environment in which all voices can be assured of being heard, valued, and responded to with respect.
And here we are.
Better days when we could explore together. With parents, too.
When the news hit home that we would be returning to school virtually, my plans for the Spring term’s big focus went out the window. No longer able to rely on the space, materials, and structure of the classroom, I turned to what remained gloriously available - the ground outside.
In the Fall, we focused on “What’s on the Inside?” exploring our bodies, thoughts and emotions. In the Winter we turned to “What’s on the Outside?” studying stars, planets, and the relationship between the Earth, Moon and Sun. Our first day “back”, we gathered on Zoom and launched an Inquiry into “What’s Underneath?”. Despite the distance, despite the lag, despite my occasionally regretful need to rely on the “Mute All” button, the children exploded with ideas, and we were off.
In the past three weeks, based on the children’s first responses, we are now firmly embedded in two wonderful streams of Inquiry - local underground creatures and the importance of roots - all through our daily morning zoom meetings, and email exchanges mediated by parents. The children have posed questions, offered theories, inspired experiments and collectively produced marvelous catalogues of information and ideas.
Noting that almost everyone referenced roots in their drawings, we started there.
When the celery was first placed in the coloured water, some of the kids predicted the celery would grow roots. That led to our next experiments. Soon, a series of experiments with vegetable roots began to take shape:
New experiments and theories continue to emerge as we all test out and measure our experiments, at home and together online. None of this feels easy, but it still feels like a community, working, and growing, together.