Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Looking Closely...

Looking back at last year's success of our We Can See global inquiry project (you can find those posts under the "We Can See Project" tab), it goes without question that this type of learning opportunity brought an authentic learning lens for our class to inquire and learn about the world around them. The beauty of this project was that it involved connecting our class with other classes around the world and focused on building an understanding about each school environment whereby students would make comparisons, ask questions, draw conclusions, and gain a deeper understanding of where they live. 

Over the summer, a group of educators that are part of my Professional Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter began to dialogue around what our next global inquiry project could be and what it could look like for this school year. In particular, Heather McKay (@HeatherMMcKay), a talented and inspiring Kindergarten teacher from Calgary, Alberta, ignited the idea of using Frank Serafini's series entitled "Looking Closely." 

Image from:

Through this lens and with his series of books, this project explores how to "look closely" at the world around us, nature's natural wonderments, and our students' curiousities in a way that allows us to gain a deeper understanding of our world and digitally connect with other classrooms while doing it. As part of starting this global inquiry project, a collaborative blog space was created whereby classes, educators, and their families could go on and post their discoveries, inquiries, and wonderments and interact as digital citizens through the blogsphere. You can find the link to the collaborative "Looking Closely" blog here:

For our class, it has been a slow start in sparking the interests of our students with this concept, so we have taken the idea in strides and in connection with the interests of our students. For instance, throughout our Snail Inquiry, our students took interest in "looking closely" at snails through their scientific observations, fiction and non-fiction texts, and more and similarly with our Leaf Inquiry. Students were able to dig deeper in their thinking with the framework of "what do you see?," "what do you think?," "what do you wonder?," which helped guide and facilitate the learning. Many opportunities to compare, discuss and make their thinking visible emerged and we couldn't have been more delighted!

This one image of a Monarch Butterfly inspired another
SK, G.B., to paint it after looking closely at the image.
After creating her sketch (plan), she ended up inspiring
3 other girls to create their own interpretation of a
butterfly based on the image in the book.
Such attention to detail!
Sharing our interest in "looking closely" with our reading buddies!
After using the "Looking Closely" texts as read alouds and throughout peer and self-directed reading opportunities within our classroom, Heidi and I finally feel that the spark has been lit as of this week and it didn't even come from us! Throughout this week, one of our SK students decided she wanted to make her own "Looking Closely" book and have our class try and guess what we think the images are. Over the course of the week, E.S. has been reading through the various books from this series, getting ideas and making connections to the format and set-up of these texts. Here is the "Looking Closely" book she created:

We hope that E.S.'s story will inspire her peers or even other classes to create their own and share them with our class through the collaborative blog or by commenting on this post. E.S. would be thrilled to know what you thought of her "Looking Closely" debut as an author so we welcome any comments below. 

How does "looking closely" at something 
inspire wonder? We would love to know 
what you think...


  1. Dear E.S.,
    Thank you for sharing your story. You are a good writer! You used a lot of descriptive words to give clues to the reader, that's what good writers do. I am looking forward to showing your video to our class. I hope you will Skype with us and tell us how you wrote your book.
    Mrs, Harrison

    1. Dear Mrs. Harrison,

      I like how you complimented me and maybe your class will get inspired by my book. Maybe they can make a different book then mine and our class can guess what it is.