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!)
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?
- Milkweed is not a Weed it is Important Monarch Butterfly Food (earthelixir.ca)