Finding Gratitude Through Inquiry
Hey, y'all! Every year we do a ton of Thanksgiving things in November. We practice being thankful and we do all the things. Then the holidays come around the kids get the "gimmies." And all of this is largely teacher-centered.
In order to make learning stick (and last through the holidays!) we're going to be learning about gratitude with an inquiry-based model this year. (Bonus is it's free to you!)
We start every inquiry unit with a question asking session. In this case, the questions we'll be looking at will be things like: What is gratitude? How do people show gratitude? Why is it important to be grateful?
The questions should be student-generated, but it's okay to guide them (especially young ones) in a certain direction.
Once we have our essential questions in mind, it's time for students to start doing research. With my first graders, research looks like read alouds, hyper docs with links to different videos or leveled readers (if available), class discussions, interviews of different adults at home or school, and anything else they can think of.
We use a graphic organizer to define what we think gratitude is, what the actual definition is, what it looks like, and what it's not. Some of my more advanced kids will write definitions, but some of my students will simply draw pictures to represent the ideas. And that's okay. That's the big idea behind student-driven learning--meeting students where they are. We'll go back and add the words together as time allows.
I really want my students to also understand what gratitude looks like in different settings. We can use a gratitude journal and write down things we're thankful for on the daily, but if it doesn't transfer to their daily lives, it hasn't done us much good. So we talk about what it means to show gratitude.
We can show our families or our classmates we are grateful for them by using kind words and helping each other. We can show we are thankful in the cafeteria by cleaning up after ourselves, using a quiet voice, and minding our manners. Students generate ideas, I record them on a piece of chart paper, and students write the ones that speak to them on their recording sheet.
This gratitude mini-unit is free and a great place to start if you're curious about inquiry in your classroom. There are several other inquiry and Phenomenon-based learning units in my store as well if you're wanting to branch out a bit from the traditional teacher-centered lessons.