This is the case of the missing gingerbread men.
Last week, Grade 2 was outraged to discover that their baking had been stolen.
The thief left a footprint and carelessly dropped a few items, such as a scarf, coins and glasses. Clearly, the thief was in a hurry to flee the scene! Grade 2 quickly went to work. They photographed and bagged each piece of evidence, wrote detailed descriptions and inferred meaning from each clue.
For example, from one footprint, Kurtley inferred that the thief was an adult (after measuring the print’s length and width, and comparing it to her peers’ shoes), estimated the time of the crime (based on the dampness of the print), and made an informed prediction about the type of shoe and likely gender of its owner (based on the shape of the sole).
Read on to find out who committed the crime, how it was solved and most importantly…WHY all this drama is so powerful in education!
After examining all the evidence, the detectives created a shortlist of suspects, and a series of questions for interrogation.
They analysed the suspects’ responses using a logic matrix until only one remained…. Ms Lara, the Kindergarten teacher! Can you believe it?!
The detectives also predicted motives for the crime, such as “giving cookies to her students ” or “teaching fractions, because half a cookie was left behind”. The students confronted Ms Lara, found the missing cookies and accepted her confession. They resolved the issue by teaching Ms Lara and all Kindergarten students to make their own gingerbread men, to avoid a repeat offence!
In an inquiry curriculum, an experience like this is called a provocation. It is an invitation for students to immerse themselves in a situation, which incites an emotional response. Under these conditions, students are naturally drawn to question, think and search for meaning. In essence, it stimulates minds to inquire.
In this case, the experience was planned by Ms Caspar (with Ms Lara’s kind support!) in order to deepen students’ understanding of narratives – in particular, to explore the way that problems in stories create excitement, investment and a desire for conflict-resolution. As detectives, the students also practiced inferential thinking – an important reading comprehension skill – in an authentic, hands-on situation.
And the result? Grade 2 students have a deep understanding of the form and function of stories, and their own writing shows evidence of emotional tension, more exciting climaxes and satisfying conclusions.
Thanks, Ms Caspar, for a truly inspiring day of learning! Case closed.