Tuesday, 13 January 2015

All Because of Sable Antelope ...

Sable antelope live in the African Savannah Woodlands. They weigh 4oo-500 pounds. Their diet consists of grass and leaves from shrubs and trees. They have many predators, including crocodiles, hyenas and lions. All of this information is new to me - all because of one little question: "Are these mountain goats?"
found in our classroom animal bin
On the first day back after our Christmas break, one of my students asked just that. To be completely honest, I almost said, "Yes," or "I don't know". It was near the end of a long day of indoor recesses and we were cleaning up the classroom to prepare for sharing time and dismissal. I wanted to say 
"I don't know" (because I really didn't), but instead I said, "I have no idea - would you like to find out?" After an enthusiastic response, I invited him to put the animals on our nature explore table (stationed atop our beaver-chewed log) where in hindsight, I thought they would likely be forgotten.

To my surprise - this was the beginning of a week-long inquiry - one lead with avid persistence by a four-year old. We looked at picture after picture of horned mammals, comparing them to our plastic figures. When we ran out of ideas we tweeted the friendly Toronto zoo keepers (@tozookeepers) to ask their advice. Even after making our tentative conclusion that these animals are indeed sable antelope, I must admit my student is still not convinced. 

But I have been convinced of something much more important: there is something to this inquiry-schminquiry. What I have read about inquiry has intrigued me - but witnessing the acceleration of learning it can inspire is truly a game-changer for me. 

Cheers ;)

Check out my student's learning journey here: 

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