Day 3: Debbie Axiak, Grade 2 Teacher (Whiteoaks Public School)

What Did I Learn Today?

It would have been easier to say no.

It would have been easier to say “no”. To say “leave it outside”. To stick to the lesson plan. To avoid the swirling wave of emotions that I knew would spread through the classroom. To avoid the questions that I knew would come & knew I would not be able to answer.  But when I saw a student beaming with pride and carrying this 6.5 cm, jumping caterpillar…


Instead of saying “no”, I said “That is SO creepy!” and the student’s smile grew even bigger and he strutted into the school and into the classroom.

We watched it jump around, looked at it with a magnifying glass to look for details and some students were brave enough to smell it. We brainstormed a great list of words to describe the caterpillar, we talked about the emotions and feelings that we were each having about this arthropod in our classroom, and we came up with a lot of questions. We compared this caterpillar to the larvae we raised and released as Painted Lady butterflies. We looked in our Bug Books to try and identify it. We sent a Tweet to @RangerRidley to ask for his opinion and he gave us some suggestions and asked us to do some research and get back to him. We had a mini-lesson on Google and effective key words for searching & we analyzed a variety of images. We argued, we used evidence to back up our ideas and then we finally agreed that it was probably a Catacola caterpillar.

And then came another recess and a different student with this new inquiry provocation



What did I learn today? It would have been easier to say “no”, but despite the fact that I’m still itchy and a little creeped out, I’m so glad I didn’t.

You can follow Debbie on Twitter @DebbieAxiak or her classroom account @MrsAxiak


2 thoughts on “Day 3: Debbie Axiak, Grade 2 Teacher (Whiteoaks Public School)

  1. Jim Cash

    Thanks for sharing this snapshot of one of your days! Your story demonstrates that there is always a way to engage students by connecting with their dynamic interests/questions while still connecting to the static curriculum expectations… You’re right — your decision to follow the students’ interests was harder but, I think, it was far more rewarding and relevant. With learning, I believe there is a continuum of quality; learning via interest, inquiry, and fun I think leads to higher quality learning than a set, inflexible program.


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