A Kindergarten Teacher Applies What She Learned Through Inquiry: Joanna’s Story Continues

After my investigation into colored light at the science museum, I began to consider seriously how I might begin to create a classroom environment focused on inquiry for my kindergarten class. I began to understand that inquiry has a structure that I could use to enable my students to ask and answer their own questions about light and color. That was four years ago, and each year I get a little better at understanding how kindergartners do inquiry.

I now have several light sources and lenses that can be tinted different colors as regular learning stations. Students investigate light and color all year long, with many opportunities to revisit their work. Some years the students call themselves the “Rain

bow Kids” because we typically start our work with light using prisms. The National Science Education Standards call for young children to gain an understanding of the properties of objects and materials as well as of light. We pursue these understandings in part through our mixing of different colored paints and then the mixing of colored lights. Each year the students make books of their experiences.

One of my particular interests in the past four years has been to encourage my students to develop their language skills using science as the subject of talk. At the workshop I learned the importance of learning how to ask questions, work with materials, and listen. I begin each year by modeling these skills. For example, I show them how to ask questions using prisms and shadows as a starting point.

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