Do you ever just start with a question? Yesterday’s keynote speaker, Kerry Gallagher, asked the educators in the room to engage learners by doing just that! I want my students to want to learn, and starting by asking them something gets their minds going. This morning I asked them how it felt to be a drop in the water cycle. I got a spattering of answers that showed surface level understanding of the water cycle. I then activated prior knowledge, asking students what they knew about the water cycle. They were able to identify the major steps that they learned previously such as evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. They were missing a part of the water cycle. A student suggested groundwater, another well water, and a third mentioned a plant. Using the plant, we discussed what happens and how water can form on plant leaves and evaporate. Heading to Google I looked up transpiration. The first site ended in .gov and this gave me a teachable moment. Is this a reliable site to use? William decided that since it was a government website we could rely on it as a resource. Clicking on the link took us to learn more about what transpiration was. Students discussed this word in terms of the water cycle.
Armed with knowledge we went back to the original question that asked students to think about what it felt like to be a drop of water in the cycle. Around the room I had placed different parts of the cycle and students had an opportunity to internalize what it would feel like to actually be a water droplet. Ask them where they got stuck, or what parts of the cycle they made it to. Students then had an opportunity to answer the question I started with, telling me how they felt being part of the water cycle. We completed our lesson watching a BrainPOP on the water cycle.
Students discussed that being part of the water cycle is tiring and you might not know where you are going next. One student mentioned how challenging it was to survive as a water droplet. Some students mentioned they were bored because sometimes you get stuck in one place for a long time. A student connected this to the years it could take a drop of water to evaporate from the ocean. The journey is wet, cold, and lonely another child shared. One student mentioned that a drop of water is more important than she thought. Someone told me it was surprising that so many students had to visit the cloud station. From their writing I can see students have internalized life as a water droplet, and this all started with a question!