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"Take a student, place him in a situation of moderate uncertainty about some topic and get out of his way while he gets excited and attentive and directs his exploration to the source of his uncertainty. Moreover, research has demonstrated that he will enjoy his exploration and the accumulation of knowledge."

--Hy Day, from "Curiosity and the Interested Explorer," 1982, p.19.

Curious Reflections . . . on "Modeling Curiosity" as a Teaching Strategy

Posting Date: June 28, 2011


Photo of Marilyn ArnoneWhen you model curiosity, you demonstrate the behavior of a curious person. So, when working with your students, model curiosity by asking questions yourself and demonstrating positive reactions to a curiosity-provoking situation. For example, your reactions to not knowing the answer to a question might be to model behaviors like the following:


  • Saying out loud . . . "What do I need to know?" Have students help you as you narrow down your question or topic.
  • "How can I find the best source of information to answer my question?" Continue to talk aloud as you consider several possible sources. Then, choose a source and suggest the reason you think it is an appropriate one.

  • Model how to locate that source. You may also need to demonstrate how you find the information within the source. For younger students, this means showing them the table of contents, etc.
  • Show students that you enjoy the process of discovery. When you find the answer, express how good it feels to find the answer to your questions.

Most of all, throughout the entire inquiry process from question-asking to question solution, model enthusiasm. When students see someone they respect being enthusiastic they are more likely to model the behavior themselves.


Take a Minute to Reflect

Do you have instances in your experience in which you've found that your own enthusiasm was contagious? What was the effect on your students or your children?

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People icon indicating an invitation to leave commentsFeel free to comment or share your own reflections below . . .

Stacey Greene Wicksall
This is exactly what happens when one watches a game show on television, right? Keeping this in mind, I created an atmosphere of curiosity and enthusiasm among fourth and fifth grade students learning how to use the Dewey Decimal system and card catalog in the school library. Students created a wide variety of questions about topics they were curious about. These became the questions for the game. I connected the card catalog to a projector so all the students would be able to see. Students took turns coming up to be contestants on the "show" "Where in the library can I find...." The contestant chose a random question and I read it aloud to them (and the "studio audience" commonly known as the rest of the class). The contestant talked out what he or she thought could be done to search for a print resource to help answer the question using the OPAC. If they were stumped, they could "phone a friend" in the audience to get advice. This game was fun and it really motivated all the kids to participate. Plus, they got a kick out of eventually finding the book that would have the answer to their own or a peer's question.