- curiosity is the joy of exploration - a hidden force that drives learning, critical thinking, and reasoning.
- that intellectual curiosity has as big of an effect on performance as hard work. When put together, curiosity and hard work account for success just as much as intelligence.
- people who were curious about a topic retained what they learned for longer periods of time
- curiosity is linked to a wide range of important adaptive behaviors, including tolerance of anxiety and uncertainty, positive emotions, humor, playfulness, out-of-box thinking, and a noncritical attitude -- all attributes associated with healthy social outcomes.
That got me thinking, a couple of years ago I wanted to give the fifth grade a chance to explore something they were personally interested in, not just do a project that I assigned. So I introduced them to the Encyclopedia game (see video to the right). What I noticed is a "hesitancy" and "lack of natural enthusiasm". It was almost as if they forgot how to be curious on their own. Their questions made me think they would be happier if I assigned them a specific project.
The following year (2013-14), I was walking down the hall at the beginning of the school year and I saw a display outside the first grade classroom that caught my eye. It was entitled "I am curious about..." I read with fascination what each student was interested in and looked at their drawings. The first grade teacher, Mrs. Dixon, wanted to encourage the students to be curious. I talked to her and Mrs. Huelskoetter, the librarian, and we decided to pull together information for each student on each topic. I put a page together with curated videos and Mrs. Huelskoetter pulled books together for them. Then they did a project in computer class where they shared what they had learned. I enjoyed working on this project because I got to know the students better and I got to learn with them.
I also talked to the 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Sadler, about doing the Encyclopedia Game with her class. We'll start off by watching the first part of the TED video. We'll use the DK Find Out! site as our visual encyclopedia. I'll make sure they know how to copy and paste URLs into a Word document (to track their steps in the game). I'll also ask them to add a sentence to the document on what they are curious about in each step. Then the following week they will play the game. I'll monitor their progress and enthusiasm to determine how long we keep the activity going. The DK Find Out! site is extremely engaging and I'm hopeful the students will enjoy this activity.
I don't usually write about things that I haven't done yet and have no evidence of success, but I am very excited and hopeful about these activities. I'll try and remember to write a follow-up blog entry to reflect on our experience and lessons learned. I am optimistic that if we foster our students' natural curiosity in the younger grades, our older students will be naturally curious and we can build lifelong learners.