Wonder Wednesday: Where to Begin With Provocations!

Hi friends! This week I am going to walk you through a couple of provocations I have set up in our room and my goals of using provocations right in the beginning of the year. Where do I start? How do I start? What should I work on first? Are questions I often receive. What a better time to take a closer look at them!

What is a provocation? 
Provocations are anything from a video, an experience, a set up, a photo, a GIF, to a picture book. They are experiences that are truly going to challenge the thinking of the viewer to think, notice, wonder, explore and create their own connections. Provocations take learning deeper, ignite inquiries and empower learners to WANT to go further with their learning and ask questions.The Power of a Provocation .PNG

Trevor and I share about the POWER behind provocations in Inquiry Mindset, and together we created this sketch to illuminate our love for provocations!

Where do I start?
Beginning with choosing your focus, whether it is tied to a current interest, passion or connection to your curriculum, you need to have a starting point. Then, you know what you are hoping to provoke your learners about!

Next, look at what you are most resourced to create or do as a provocation. Do you have a lot of non-fiction or picture books about this topic? What about creating a small world with loose parts to explore? Maybe look for a video, an interesting image or even a GIF. I find researching for provocation inspiration to be a great way to get ideas, think Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

Plan with the end in mind! What is the goal of your provocation? Is it to stir up curiosity about a specific topic, is it to heat up prior knowledge or tap into passions and interests? In September, these are all things I am hoping to do, but my most important goal is to practice our ‘thinking and noticing’ routines. These routines lead us into sharing wonders and help us to begin to develop beginner researcher skills. Part of this goal is to make our noticing and thinking visible, so I try to tie that in as much as possible too!

Here is how we have been exploring, noticing and sharing in our Kindergarten class over the past week… 

With a light focus on seasonal changes with Autumn upon us, I have been curating and setting up ‘Fall’ type provocations. Seasonal changes is tied to our curriculum which works well, and is a nice vehicle to practice our noticing, observing and thinking skills. I have two provocation examples to share here, one that is a whole group activity and the other is a set up for children to explore during our ‘free exploration playtime’.

Let’s start with the whole class provocation…
Last week a colleague kindly brought all kindergarten teachers a long corn stalk! I kept it in the corner of my room until I realized what a great provocation it would be. We brought it down one afternoon and I placed it in the middle of our carpet. We immediately became ‘les scientifiques’ (scientists!). We quietly and calmly walked around the ‘corn stalk’ (at the time I did not announce what it was) with pretend magnify glasses in our hands. We were practicing ‘noticing’. I led with the question: What do you see? They responded using the stem: I see…/Je vois…

IMG_7711We stopped a few times to share what we saw, and while they shared I quickly recorded on a Padlet I had created. I created this Padlet using the ‘shelf’ mode, which allows you to make columns. I find it easy to use, once I have it set up and ready to go. I also enjoy having it up on my screen as we go, so kiddos can see their name and their words (remember part of my goal is to make our noticing and thinking visible, and this also celebrates that every voice is important!!
Le mais.png

Organically the conversation switched to questions we had, so we created a ‘I wonder…/Je me demande…’ tab as well. This was not my initial plan, we were solely going to be working on sharing what we noticed and saw, but since the questions started to arise, I rolled with it.

To follow up with this activity, we did some measurement of us compared to the corn stalk and I searched some different time lapses of corn growing, which the kiddos really enjoyed!! More noticing and questions began to flow.

The small group ‘Provocation Invitation’…
This provocation table was set up as an invitation to explore and to document their observations during our free exploration play time. Yesterday there was a lot of interest and kids observing and interacting with the materials using magnify glasses and mini clipboards. I can’t wait to see what comes of this over the next couple of days!!

My role in this is, as the inquiry teacher, to guide some of the observations, but overall to step back and allow their observing and documentation to unfold. I enjoy listening, taking mental notes of interests and knowledge and I will most likely do a documentation day as well. Stay tuned!

What types of thinking routines and provocations are you weaving into your start up? I would love to hear.

Stay curious, 



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