In my classroom I teach the curriculum. If the curriculum tells me that my children need to know about Antarctica, well I teach them. But I don’t tell them everything!!!
I show them where it is on a globe, then I show them a few pictures, and then some of the life found there, maybe a famous landmark and a couple of really interesting facts. But that’s it! 20 minutes maximum.
After that I ask the children what they would like to know about Antarctica! They come up with their own questions.
1. How cold does it get?
2. Who discovered it?
3. Was it always this size?
4. What is the food chain like?
I write these questions down.
I then inform the group that they have 1 week to complete their research on these questions, not all of them, only the ones they are interested in. They can represent their research however they like.
1. A model
2. A report
3. A poster.
4. A poem
5. A picture
Away they go.
With this structure we allow the children decide on their own research questions and by allowing them the freedom to show their findings in their own way we allow them to find their niche. Their special talent. Their subject of expertise.
You see, we are all good at something and if we are allowed to practice it. Eventually we will perfect it.