My son recently did a unit on earthworms, in first grade. He learned a lot, and they had a vermicomposting bin, as well as reading and writing about earthworms. It was a really cute unit, and he learned a lot.
However, they started off the unit with a KWL. What he wanted to know is "How do worms communicate?" A very interesting question, and one I didn't know the answer to (chances are his teacher didn't either). Many times throughout the unit he came home saying "Guess what I learned....but I still didn't learn how worms communicate."
At the end of the unit, a sad boy came to me....we still never learned how worms communicate.
As a teacher, and a parent, I went online and looked it up and discussed with him. However, how many parents don't have the knowledge or resources to do that? Or how many kids wouldn't ask, but on some level would know that their question hadn't been answered.
What does that teach kids about education and school? If you do use KWL charts, how do you address the questions that kids come up with that are just not in your curriculum, you don't have time for, or you don't know the answers?
In a perfect world, we could pursue their interests, but since we are all on such tight curriculum schedules and standards, I think this sets a bad precedent. What do you think?