A few weeks ago I attended a regional meeting of the Early Learning Leadership Network (ELLN). At this meeting where preschool and Kindergarten teachers join forces to learn about new standards and best prepare the youngest students for school success, I was inspired by our guest speaker. Dr. Sallee Beneke of St. Ambrose University in Iowa presented her research on inquiry-based instruction in preschool. She shared about her own "Car Project," from the late 1990's through which three and four year olds studied cars in-depth, but also gained enduring life skills including collaboration and higher order thinking as well as academic skills including drawing (writing), speaking, listening, and math. Teachers in our region were challenged to develop our own class "project." I was so grateful for the "assignment." It really seemed to open an opportunity for which I have been searching... The chance to develop a play/exploration-based, Common Core aligned, student centered inquiry project. A tall order to say the least... but I am up for the challenge!
So... my class welcomed "The News Project" this week. For our focusing event last Friday we visited Murray State's TV studio and explored every inch of it. (Read about our 21st Century Field Trip Here!) We visited the university Newspaper Office and discussed, "What is news?" with the head editor. We returned to school ready and eager to explore!
After our focusing event I created a scrapbook of all the photos I snapped while there. Using this students can refer back to their shared experience to scaffold and inspire play. All of our "Play & Explore Centers" are now focused on the project.
At the block centers students are invited to build sound boards, microphones, cameras and other equipment.
Newspaper templates are available at the writing center and aspiring reporters can also "type" stories in Word at the computer center.
The document camera doubles as a video camera at the Smart Board center where students can watch themselves broadcast live on the board!
Finally, our dramatic play center-turned television studio is packed with inspiring "equipment" and supplies. Included at this center are blank weather maps and report planning pages, plastic microphones, old computer keyboards and headphones, an easel for posting worthy news reports, and even a green screen!
My students' play this week has amazed me! I cannot wait to see what the coming weeks hold and to see how our project continues to unfold!
Grab all our printables here!