On Noticing

One of the reasons I love taking pictures is that it helps me notice.  Instead of going full-speed-ahead about my life–checking this thing or the other off my ever growing to-do list and worrying about whether I will ever get caught up–noticing helps me slow down, appreciate interesting things around me, and then I find myself asking questions.  When I watched this caterpillar wiggle its way into a chrysalis, my curiosity about everything related to monarch butterflies became insatiable.  (This incredible process happened in the planter box right outside my classroom.  I was also experimenting with using a macro lens on my phone–as seen in the top two photos–helping me to really look closely and focus carefully.  More on focus to come!)

photo-4 photo-3 photo-5 photo-6

As a result of what I had noticed and photographed, I wanted to know more.  I researched on the web, found and read non-fiction books, watched some incredible videos, talked to people around me, and enjoyed reading some fiction as well (Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver came out at the just the right time for me!).  I think that everyone around me also learned–whether they were interested or not–about monarchs and their life cycle!  But most importantly, this event heightened my noticing behavior.  Everywhere I went, indoors and out of doors, I was noticing: paying attention to patterns, colors, numbers, textures…subtleties in the world around me.

This article a friend of mine who works at the San Diego Natural History Museum referred me to reminded me of the importance of noticing–not just for me, but also for my students.  My favorite question to my students is always, “What do you notice?”  I ask that about text, about songs, about pictures, about math and science and social studies…about just about everything!

And even though we do a lot of noticing, I wonder if there is enough time in schools for noticing, for curiosity, for inquiring into things that are interesting.  As I photograph and write my way through the summer, I will also be thinking about that question–and the actions that I will take to make sure my students have ample opportunity to notice as part of their learning experience.  What do you do to help yourself (and the young people around you) notice?

8 thoughts on “On Noticing

  1. Cynthia

    Hey Kim. I am now following you on your blog. Your pictures of this caterpillar are beautiful. I miss so much of nature’s beauty because I don’t take the time to sit back and enjoy it! So now I am going to enjoy nature through your eyes and your lenses.

    1. Kim Douillard

      Thanks Jaap. Curiosity is definitely something I value–I believe it is key to learning. There is a great conversation going on at your blog. Issues of access and participation and the constraints of the tools we choose to use.

  2. Pingback: Being Intentional | Thinking Through My Lens

  3. tomnewpaltz

    Hi Kim – I love this post. I know that I’m late to the game. Your photographs reflect your noticing and I appreciate how your are linking the other things/inspirations that ripple from your noticing and how that, in turn, informs how others in your network may experience or notice new things, etc. TOM


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