Great Minds Discuss Ideas…

In the past week or so, I’ve had many conversations with kids about what they’re doing–I’m not sure why they’re bugged right now about their activity in school–it is just plain ol’ winter doldrums?  Has enough of the year passed so that they’re just tired of doing the same thing over and over?  Have worksheets gotten OLD? I’m not sure WHY they are complaining about the way school typically works, but they are clamoring for more–more choice, more responsibility, more history, more free choice reading, more conversations around those free choices (and fewer comprehension worksheets with questions). They say history is not taught enough and that it’s too USA-centric! They’re asking for a global perspective on events in the world!

So I’ve been struggling lately with how to have conversations with other teachers about deep learning.  That’s not something we talk about a lot in our building, for the most part, as our PLC work is all based around data–and the data is mostly based on multiple choice tests. But, having my kids be vocal about wanting a different experience is weighing on me.

I want kids to have a chance to explore big questions-and I want teachers to not only enjoy setting up those opportunities and have fun helping kids learn, but I want teachers knowledgeable enough to do that in ways that  will make sure kids learn the skills they need in ways that matter. I don’t want willy nilly education, but big questions based around concepts that will support kids to become effective and efficient–and passionate–learners. I want kids to know what to do when they don’t know what to do–to have strategies for learning something new in a variety of ways and in a variety of situations!

So I’ve been kicking around some questions kids have asked me, or ones I think they might like to explore. . .

Is there such a thing as an odd number? (See and

How many continents are there? (Check out this and this before you say 7.)

When is a fact a fact?

What happened before road signs?

What would the United States be like if Columbus had landed on the west coast, and our country had been settled from that side?

How can anything times something be less than the original?

How would you explain dividing fractions to someone?

How do scientists categorize plants and why do they use the categories they do?

Why ISN’T Pluto a planet any longer? How can it be a planet one day and not the next? Who decided it wasn’t?

If cell phone sales are catching up to laptops, why are schools still buying laptops and should they?

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What implications do the following numbers have for our world?

“It took 19 years for color TV to reach 10 Million users, VCR 12 years , CD players 7 years, iPad 9 months.”

And, I’m curious–what questions would you add?

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

I want my kids to be discussing ideas!