Provoking curiosity…

It takes a while before the children think of putting paper into this old typewriter to make it do something…


They wonder if the flat disks beside it are the films for the old camera!


They’re exploring a mini museum of historical artefacts on display in the library.

In another room, students use Google images to discover and examine ancient maps of the world and compare them with current ones. Next door, there are all kinds of images from the past and present as a stimulus for discussion. In the last room, the students are engrossed in investigating historical headlines. Every twenty minutes they move, so as to experience all four activities by the end of the session.

The task is the same each time. What do you notice? What do you wonder?

This is a series of provocations to get the learners thinking about history. They will be inquiring into how we find out about the past and how changes through time have shaped the present.

By the time they get back to their classes to pull the different learning experiences together, they are immersed in their new unit of inquiry, making connections, asking questions and ready to inquire. No need for teachers to ‘front load’.

The learners are curious, ready to uncover and discover for themselves.

Are the teachers ready to let go?

16 thoughts on “Provoking curiosity…

    1. They will meet an archeologist next week, don’t worry.
      But isn’t it funny that things you gre up with are history already?!


  1. Lovely post as always Edna. I have always been uncomfortable with the concept of (and word) ‘frontloading’. For me – the best inquiries begin with just this kind of tuning in…through a provocation like this, the teacher can stand back and inquire into students’ thinking…so everyone’s inquiring…thanks again Kath


  2. Your posts always make me think, rethink and reflect which is great and which I highly appreciate.
    This time about the last unit of Grade 5 “Live is a stage”. A good tuning in gets the kids and makes it meaningful for them. Lets see. Thx again.


  3. I like to point out to my kids that less than ten years ago I still had cause to use the occasional floppy disk. These measured approximately 3.5 x 3.5 inches and held 1.44 MB. In contrast I have on my desk an external drive called a Passport that measures 4.4 x 3.2 x 0.7 inches and holds 1 terabyte. This is 728,000 times more information! On the floppy I couldn’t save even one of our songs or photos. On the new drive I can save around 180,000 songs or pictures. Amazing.


  4. Cute activity. Have not heard the term front loading before. It sounds like an activity done before a lesson to access prior knowledge. How is this different and why is front loading not a good thing?


  5. Really great activities. The key element of this type of activity is that it engages the students emotionally with the learning and empowers them to want to find out more. From the students point of view the role of the teacher then moves from someone who is trying to make them do something into someone who is empowering them to increase their skills and knowledge.


  6. Hello Edna,

    I did a very similar provocation in class today (8-10 year olds). One of the experiences we tried out was a morse code video from youtube with sound only, no image. Some children ‘knew’ it was morse code and I found myself saying “That’s great, but don’t let knowledge stop you wondering!” as I do think knowing the ‘right answer’ can be a real block to inquiry.

    I’ll have a good look through all their questions and wonderings tomorrow.


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