What happened with Cecil the lion is a great tragedy. Children worldwide are sure to notice and ask questions about it. It is the perfect opportunity to tap into this natural curiosity and work on developing their questioning skills, as well as have some great discussions about needs vs. wants, human entitlement to the earth’s resources, and the reaction and effects of social media in its aftermath.
Lately I have been giving a great deal of thought to questioning skills and how to engage kids to ask deeper questions, particularly those that will inspire them to want to find out more and start an inquiry. Some of the strategies I’ve used in the past included playing 20 questions, doing a mystery Skype, using visual prompts or a mystery item and the Q-chart. However, those strategies usually failed to elicit that deeper questioning I was after. I came across two great picture books, “The Mermaid and the Shoe” by K.G. Campbell and “I Wonder” by Annaka Harris that help to introduce the concept of questioning for the purpose of inquiry and to illustrate its value.
Then I came across another picture book, “The Cloud Spinner” by Michael Catchpool, that made me think of Cecil the lion. In this book a boy is able to spin delicate threads out of clouds to later make into fabric. He is wisely taught by his mother that “enough is enough and not one stitch more”, so he makes enough thread to meet his needs, to make a hat to protect his head from the sun in the summer and a scarf to keep him warm in the winter. All is well until a greedy king noticed his scarf and demands that he make him one that’s just as beautiful only much longer. Despite the boy’s reasoning that the king does not need a longer scarf, the king insists. He later demanded that the boy make him a cloak and dresses for his wife and daughter. This leads to a cloudless sky and a big drought in the kingdom, until the king’s daughter returns the garments and the boy is able to spin them back into the sky.
It’s easy to see, from an educator’s perspective, why I fell in love with this book. It offers so many opportunities for making analogies to our own lives, to what is happening in the world, and asking deeper questions that will hopefully lead students into rich inquiries. Making the connection to Cecil the lion would provide students with a real life example of what can happen when humans feel entitled to take more than they need or deserve, simply for their own twisted sense of pleasure.
For more resources, feel free to visit my Pinterest boards or share some of yours in the comments.
Recently I came across an interesting article. The headline read: “Lawsuit Paid In Full: Samsung pays Apple $1 Billion sending 30 trucks full of 5 cent coins” (from The Blade Brown Show). Outrageous, right? Well, this got me thinking – how would students react to this article? Would they question it or accept it at face value?
I’ve been meaning to do some lessons with my junior classes on website evaluation, and this article just reminded me how important that skill is in today’s digital world.
I’ve dug up some great resources I’ve found over the past few months and I’m currently attempting to organize them so that I can teach the lessons in January. Here is what I have so far:
To introduce the lessons I plan to show my students some photographs and have them assess if they are real or photo shopped. Here are a few examples:
A tornado sucking up a rainbow
For an interesting article about the authenticity of this photograph click here.
Click on the picture for more photo shopped pictures of the first lady.
Two websites about extraordinary animals:
One website is full of ‘information’ that is totally fabricated, the other is amazingly true. My goal in the lesson is to have students read and discuss the information from both websites, then decide which one is true and which is false, with reasons why they think so. I’d like students to collaboratively come up with a set of guidelines for evaluating the validity of information they find online (see below for a great guide to help teachers moderate the discussion).
Michael Gorman’s (@mjgormans) Seven Steps to Website Evaluation for Students:
A is for Author
B is for Bias
C is for Currency
D is for Domain Anatomy
E is for Effectiveness for Purpose
F is for Facts and Content
G is for Good Links
This is That:
This website is full of articles ranging from plausible to totally ridiculous, all in a news style format, that students could evaluate using the criteria they created. Here is a sample:
Finally, I’ll have students visit the website I mentioned at the beginning of this post:
They will be asked to read the article from the website and convince me and their classmates that the information contained there is true or false, giving reasons for their choice. I’m hoping through these lessons students will think twice before taking everything they see online at face value.