I am currently working with a great group of teachers to help them create an interdisciplinary unit for their students. After meeting and brainstorming, they chose the 1904 World's Fair as their topic. After they landed on this idea, the dynamic in the room changed. I could feel their excitement and enthusiasm for the topic. Suddenly all were on their computers looking for answers to questions that occurred to them. The amount of questions was awesome! I mentioned this to them because this is the type of inquiry we want to inspire in our students. While most of the questions went unanswered for the time being, the important part was in the ASKING! I know they all went home and looked up more information and so did I. I know this is the type of thing we want our students to do. To get so excited that the learning spills out of the classroom time is a teacher's dream.
To help in their own learning, I decided that a field trip for THE TEACHERS was in order. I contacted the Missouri History Museum and arranged a private tour and class for them that was directed at their very specific learning goals. They were surprised that we were "allowed" to do this but wholeheartedly agreed and we spent an afternoon at MHM learning about the St. Louis World's Fair. This type of learning is just what I have always done. If I was trying to teach something, I went to the experts to learn more.
In January, we will have our next meeting and they will continue to put their new knowledge to work by planning lessons for their students. By keeping the topic local, it helps make the learning real for students. By picking something interesting, the enthusiasm for learning is present in both the teachers and the students. By not knowing all the answers, these teachers will model life long learning for their students. I'm very excited to see this all come together and appreciate the willingness of the teachers to step out of their comfort zones and try something new.