Our school mascot is the explorer. Our symbol is a rocketship. So when I first heard the term “moonshot thinking” I was intrigued. Digital Learning Specialist and Educational Keynote Speaker, Jenny Magiera brought it to my attention last summer as I was following the BLC15 hashtag on twitter. Mageria challenges all teachers to create a classroom where it’s okay to fail. It’s her belief and mine too, that mistakes are usually opportunities to try again. And it’s often these second attempts in learning that push us to take bigger risks, and in the classroom, even a 1st grade classroom, these risks usually lead to deeper more meaningful learning.
I picked up Brian Floca’s book, Moonshot – The Flight of Apollo 11 in the fall. I knew that not only did I have a mentor text for my 1st graders first non fiction unit of study but I also had a book that would inspire my students to ask questions. After reading Moonshot my 1st graders put many of their questions on sticky notes. “How do you get to be an astronaut? Is space travel dangerous? Do you sleep in space? How long does it take to get to the moon?” These questions led to spending a good chunk of our We Wonder Wednesday researching Neil Armstrong, space travel and the effects of gravity in space. Videos from this historic time helped us learn how to make meaning of images. And my students marveled, as together, we watched the grainy, black and white footage of Neil Armstrong taking his first step on the moon. We even tweeted our questions to Moonshot author, Brian Floca and to our surprise he tweeted back.
That connection alone was enough to inspire my students to think big. They were so proud that the author of our favorite read-a-loud was talking to us. But even more importantly, at least to me, this book started what is still an ongoing conversation in my classroom. How do we set goals and what does it take to meet them? Learning is a lifelong adventure and if we want to to accomplish great things, all of us have to try, fail, persist, try again and even repeat many times before we can reach the the highest of heights. Moonshot thinking.