Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What's the BIG Idea?

I will be attending the final "What's the BIG Idea?" conference next week. For the past three years, the Springfield Town Library has been a part of a pilot project conducted by the Vermont Center for the Book with a grant from the National Science Foundation. The goal is to bring math and science programming into the public library setting. In addition to programming ideas, we have been the recipient of books, materials, and kits worth several thousand dollars. You may have noticed the red wagon in the Children's Room that carries a learning center. I hope you and your child have investigated its contents. Some Story Times and Discovery Hours have featured BIG Idea concepts.

The Vermont Center for the Book (http://www.mothergooseprograms.org/ )
suggests asking questions like these to involve math and science in your child's at home story times and experiences:

Connecting questions
What does that remind you of?
What do you notice about this character that reminds you of someone you know?
What other story have we read that reminds you of this story?
What other things do your sort? How do arrange these things?
Predicting questions
What do you think will happen now/next if…?
Evaluating questions
What do you like about this? Why?
What don’t you like? Why?

Another way to frame questions can be found in an article by Ruth Wilson (adapted from Martens, 1999, p. 26):

Attention-focusing questions to call attention to significant details
What is it doing? How does it feel?
Measuring and counting questions to generate more precise information
How many?
How much?
How heavy?
Comparison questions to foster analysis and classification
How are they alike?
How are they different?
Action questions to encourage exploration of properties and events
What if…?
Problem solving questions to support planning and trying solutions to problems
How could we…?
Reasoning questions to encourage reflection and to construct new ideas
What do you think?
Can you explain that?

By asking these simple questions at home and by taking advantage of the learning centers and programs offered at the library, you can help your children become critical thinkers and problem solvers, necessary skills in today's (and tomorrow's) world.