Sunday, 10 November 2013

Learning the 5 W's from Day One

The last few weeks I've been subbing a fair bit and life has picked up so the blog posts have dwindled...but this idea kept coming back to me when I was interacting with the little people at our local schools as well as my kiddo's at home.  I think it's such a fantastic idea so this morning I just sat down and committed to write about it!

It comes from Joanne Cowie, a pretty amazing teacher, who has this great resume of experiences and education, who focuses mainly on ESL teaching and is currently doing some Grade One at Burdett School. (Alberta, Canada). 

During her morning routine of calendar, weather and numbers, she also reads a thematic short story then asks one of the students to pick a foam-card out of the bag.  These cards are not pictured but are simply strips of foam individually labeled with "who", "where", "what", "when" and "why".  The hand on the bulletin board has been memorized and the students know these words by sight. Then she asks a question based on whichever "W" word they pick out that morning.

When I asked Joanne more about the activity she gave me a great list of goals and outcomes this activity fulfills. Take a look!

1.  To help the students differentiate between asking a question and telling a story.
2.  To start the inquiry process/model and to get the students to really understand what the words mean.  It then becomes a way for me to communicate with the students.
3.  To learn to memorize/read and spell these words.  All the students can tell me the 5 W's.  Remember, these are not easy words to remember people!  W and H together?  Try sounding that out and making sense of it!
4.  These words will be used in writing, planning a story, developing a story, building a story.  ie.  Who are your characters?  What  are they doing?  Where are they?  When did this story take place?? Why did the characters act this way?? (Action)  What would the characters think? Say? Do?  Feel?
5.  In Science to help the students identify the facts, who? what? where/ when? why?   To be able to predict and make inferences. To be able to let students come up with their own questions. To teach the children to activate their brains when they hear anyone one of the five questions.
6. Finally, to help the brain look for patterns of thinking.

"All this and I am sure there are more reasons, but it is why I teach this so thouroughly at the beginning of the year and refer to the 5 W's all the way throug the school year.  Every subject can be related to the inquiry learning model so decision making and problem solving occurs while reading, in math, science, social.  Really in everything."

Thanks for sharing Joanne!  I'm so excited about doing a short term assignment with another group of first-graders this week.  I'm sure I will not have much time to blog (which is why I made myself write today!) but will come away with a great number of new ideas and experiences!  Can't wait!