Exploring the Big Questions of Our World

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 How do things grow? For our 2nd grade learners, this question leads their investigations for their current Big Question Unit. Big Questions are real-world questions that encourage learner curiosity and inquiry. Questions are explored through interdisciplinary projects guided by the passions and interests of our learners. Big Questions embrace The Biome’s rigorous, experiential, and holistic approach to learning. 

Rigorous Academics

In second grade, for over a month, learners have dug deep into discovering what grows above ground, below ground, and how things grow in our natural world. At every turn, from literacy to math to science and to art, learners were challenged to learn how things grow. During their daily literacy time, learners built their background knowledge of plants, trees, and the creatures that help plants grow. In math, leaners documented how we grow and change by practicing their measuring skills. Together they’ve gathered data on their height, arm spans, and shoe sizes. In our outdoor space, they learned to investigate and observe the parts of plants and work on their drawing and sketching skills with the assistance of Mr. Keough, who is both an artist and our Adaptive Thinking teacher.

Experiential Learning

A key aspect of project-based learning is the integration of activities that allow learners to take an active, hands-on approach to their learning. During Ms. Turney’s class’ recent visit to Bowood Farms, “What”, “Why”, and “How” came from every direction. During their visit, learners met with Susannah Eisenbraun, Biome Parent, and employee at Bowood Farms. Together, they explored the various plants and vegetables in the garden and even got to taste green beans right off the vine. Last, learners had the opportunity to gather plant observations and sketches that would ultimately influence the class mural, which displays all that grows above and below the ground.

Holistic Education

At the Biome, learning doesn’t end when we leave the classroom. As the class started talking about growth, learners shared their predictions of how they might grow between now and May. One learner predicted that they would grow friendlier as a class. Ms. Turney’s class decided to make this a class goal and began to develop some strategies to ensure their success. The first place they decided to work on this goal was on the playground. After a dispute at recess over playground blocks, learners took the opportunity to draw and share their feelings about how they could have made changes to the situation. After a class discussion, a decision was made to take an inventory and share the blocks equally – another great real-world opportunity to practice their base ten math skills!

Ask our learners if the enjoy these Big Questions? Without a doubt! Second-grade learners, Miles and Grace, explained, “Big questions helps us learn about things we don’t know about in our brains yet.” In Big Question, we see that one simple question, “How do things grow?” can flourish into deeper questions and interests. Near the end of the unit, Miles and Grace excitedly shared, “My favorite part was going to Bowood farms. I love being in nature and learning about plants. I learned about how plants grow, but now I want to know why they grow where they do, and how they get their shape and color! “