This afternoon, we had the opportunity to visit Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt’s inquiry-based kindergarten classroom at George Jay Elementary. I was very excited for this experience as I have been following Rebecca on Instagram and Twitter for the past few months and I have been amazed with what she does with inquiry-based learning with learners of such a young age. It can be overwhelming to think about implementing inquiry-based learning as it differs so much from the learning processes that I experienced growing up.
The layout of Rebecca’s classroom was great, and really showcased her students’ learning processes. On one wall, she had a Wonder Wall with photos of each student and a whiteboard ‘thought-bubble’ with a question that each student was wondering about. She explained that she updates this wall with every new topic that they explore, and it was great to see what was going on in each of her students’ minds. I have included a great image below from Rebecca that gives a visual explanation of this wall, as well as a few other ways to set up a classroom in order to promote inquiry and curiosity. I noticed when we were looking at the wall that some of the students’ thought bubbles were blank, and Rebecca spoke to that, noting that the importance of giving students’ time and not rushing them in their questioning.
I really liked the diversity of spaces within Rebecca’s classroom. She had lots of different areas for group-work, individual work, and quiet spaces for self-regulation, and the room had lots of natural materials and natural light.
Rebecca also gave us some great books and resources to use with inquiry-based learning. One of the books that she recommended – Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, is a huge favorite of mine, and I read it almost weekly to the girls that I nannied for last winter!
She also discussed the use of provocations to introduce new topics and promote curiosity. These can include everything from a book like Ada Twist to a walk through the community, a collection of various objects or materials as shown below, or a GIF like the one below.
I was incredibly impressed with Rebecca and it made me even more excited to have my own classroom. I feel a bit more confident about using inquiry-based learning in my own classroom, and I now have a series of great resources to help me out! It is amazing what Rebecca has managed to accomplish in seven years of teaching, and I look forward to seeing what she does next. I have included a link to her website here, her Instagram here, and her Twitter here.