They were cool with the frogs, but told me that the chicken wings grossed them out. “The wings were fattier than the kids expected,” one science teacher explained. “It took some work to get the skin off.”
This week’s chicken wing dissections, a great way for students to see how muscles work and bones connect, provided kids with a hands on approach to anatomy that they won’t soon forget. Smiling beneath goggles, their gloved hands busy with tweezers and curved scissors, the students brought critical attention to something that they’d previously only experienced with dipping sauce.
The experience of approaching something familiar with new eyes can be a great way to learn. I’ve seen this in action in theater classes, when a unit on puppetry gave young thespians a chance to explore the elements of comedy and drama using tools that might have shown up in a kindergarten classroom or a Punch and Judy show. Costuming through sock puppets may be an unconventional approach, but it works, and seeing the kids’ joy in performing, and watching performances, was inspiring.
Across campus in math classes I’ve seen teachers use infographics to teach percentage, the students evaluating the images and using the math they are learning to think critically about the facts and the spin each visual message presents.
In an English class I saw a great teacher show her students examples of futurist predictions from folks as diverse as Jean-Marc Côté to Ray Bradbury, and then make their own about what will be familiar in the future they’re helping to create.
From natural selection balloon animals to construction paper compliment chains, every day I see students approaching the world with the eyes of curious learners. I loved one science teacher’s mantra for dissection: “Be the wing.”
…and the sock, and balloon, and the futurist.
I continue to be amazed and delighted as I see gifted teachers inspiring students to push beyond what they know, and make the ordinary extraordinary.