Image created by Nabeel Abed
What are provocations?
Provocations simply mean to provoke! They provoke thoughts, discussions, questions, interests, creativity, and ideas. They can also expand on a thought, project, idea, and interest.
They could be in any form…
- An interesting photo, picture or book,
- Nature (e.g. animals)
- Conceptual (e.g. light)
- Old materials displayed in a new way,
- An interest that a child or children have,
- An object (e.g. magnets, maps)
- New creative mediums,
- Questions (from any source – e. what is gravity?)
- An event (e.g. a presentation, a holiday)
Provocations can be as simple as a photo of a rock sculpture next to some pebbles or as elaborate as a table with an assortment of recycled materials next to a book on robots and resources to make upcycled robots. Often though, provocations are simple and displayed beautifully to provoke interest. Similar to strewing, they are usually created as an option, not as a premeditated activity.
Ultimately, the intention of provocations is to provide an invitation for a child to explore and express themselves. It should be open-ended and provide a means for expression where possible.
Effectiveness of Inquiry-based learning
A teacher walks into the class with the students who all see a praying mantis on the floor, they huddle around astonished as to what it is.The teacher gathers around with them and then the questions begin to fly out.
What is it?
Where did it come from?
Can we keep it?
Why are its legs so long? Why is it brown/green?
Where does it live?
What does it eat?
And you can imagine the many other questions that followed. The teacher calmly answered some of the questions and then said to the students who are in grade 5 that it’s for them as homework to research more about it when they get home.
The students then prepared a place for it in the class and gave it stuff they assumed it would need for the night. The next morning they arrive and only to find that the mantis was dead.
Again questions began to flow,
How did it die?
Why did it die?
Where does it go when it dies?
Does it now become part of the cycle of life? What happens at a funeral?
And so the teacher again answers the many questions and the praying mantis has a legendary send-off by the students.
The point we take from this is that the teacher, when discovering the mantis with the kids knew that she had a plan for the day and needed to finish, however, she did not push the questions aside or even the mantis, she welcomed it because it opened a whole new way to learn…INQUIRY.
Of course, once the questions were done, she casually continued her lesson.Perhaps later on the students would do a topic based on the life cycle of an animal and they would always be able to reflect back to what was researched in the praying mantis incident.
Inquiry-Based Mini Lesson Plan – Example
“Teaching with Material Objects” – Lunch pail
Dianna Accordino – Wilson School District
Stephanie Procopio Lancaster-Lebanon IUB
Name of the lesson: Lunch Pails Discipline:
Language Arts / Social Studies
K – 2nd
Pennsylvania Standards Addressed:
Begin to develop an understanding of historical interpretation
Lesson Plan Procedure
Show a picture of the object to your class prior to visiting the Freyberger School.
Be sure to:
Determine students’ prior knowledge of the content.
Introduce the lesson and how you will motivate or capture the students’ attention. Determine how you will assess if the learning objective(s) was/were met.
Follow the step-by-step procedures that engage students in inquiry-based learning.
What is this object? How do you know?
What does it look like? Describe it.
Who would use this object?
Apply Prior Knowledge:
Have you ever seen one of these? Have you ever used one?
Draw and write what you think it is or what you would use it for.
Develop Interpretation/Hypothesis Based on Evidence:
show a short video that includes children eating their lunch at school from the 1900s
Discussion about the video and what object really is.
What would you have them do with the new information centers:
- Compare and contrast using a Venn Diagram
- Packing a lunch
- Book hook (picture books from the [or depicting] 19th century)
- Create your own lunch pail/box using recycled materials “thrifty”
Which lunchbox/pail they would choose (then/now)
Taken from the Nabeel Abed Handbook on methods inquiry-based based learning classroom
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