Sunday, February 26, 2012

Inviting Curiosity

Discussing Read-Alouds

Reading “Henry’s Freedom Box” by Ellen Levine and Kadir Nelson to the class added to the curiosity and wonder about “Black History” for our students. The discussion from the read-aloud helped to enhance and expand their understanding of this topic. They were anxious to get started with researching, learning and the sharing.

For this unit six workstation activities were developed and the grade 5/6 students worked on three of the activities while working in groups of 4 or 5. 
Activity 1- Dramatic Presentation – Students selected a picture book to dramatize what they learned from the story. They had to write a short script and present it to the class.
Activity 2 – Interactive Diary - Students read passages from “A Desperate Road to Freedom – The Underground Railroad Diary of Julia May Jackson” by Karleen Bradford. They then had to write from the perspective of a slave (mom, dad, child), plantation owner, abolitionist... Students used the iPod Touch to record their diary entry with the Dragon app.
Activity 3 – Memorial – Students had to design a memorial for those who fought for freedom. They picked an individual or group that helped in the abolition of slavery. They had to plan and sketch a proposal to present to town council.
Activity 4 – I Have a Dream – Students had to write their own short speech and video the speech using photo booth application.
Activity 5 – Declaration of Rights – Students had to pick an area and brainstorm what they believe are the rights of a group or individual. They had to create a keynote presentation.
Activity 6 – Timeline – Students had to research and create a timeline of important events and achievements of key individuals in Black history. They were provided with Internet links and had to create a timeline using Smart Ideas Software or Poster presentation.
Students were completely engaged and excited about their learning. We gave students a 90-minute block to complete one workstation activity. We blocked 30 minutes for daily presentations. Every student was expected to share his or her learning to the class.  
Using the iPod Touch
Interactive Diary
Researching for Dramatic Demonstration


Harriet Tubman Memorial
The quality of the work produced was amazing. It was clear that the students understood the concepts and were able to share their knowledge with classmates. All students listened attentively while each group shared. The groups worked well together except for one team, they needed to review student responsibility. This leads me to point number six in the “Inquiry Approach versus Coverage Approach” chart that is posted on our website.
Student Responsibility VS Student Compliance
The students in our inquiry-based classrooms have been learning how to become proficient collaborators and they are learning what social strategies look and sound like. It's important to set the stage for small groups and establish ground rules that allow students to be responsible for their learning.  Daniels & Harvey (2009) discuss six factors to nurture in students: expectations, norms, friendship, leadership, communication and conflict. These factors help to develop strong interdependence group skills.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

All About TIME!

The pressure of finding quality “Time” seems to be causing concern among the teachers involved in establishing inquiry learning in the classroom.  While the grade one students happily explore, their teacher worries about the length of time it’s taking for them to work through the process.
Grade 1 Investigation

Adding Detail

Adding Information

How do teachers find the time to allow for learning in depth? How do we juggle authentic investigations while meeting the demands of curriculum? Let’s take a look at bullet number 5 listed from our website under the Inquiry Approach VS Coverage Approach chart (Harvey & Daniels, 2009).
Authentic Investigation VS As/If Surrogate Learning
Integrating curriculum into authentic investigations might be one way to help with time constraints. This week, we worked with our grade 5/6 students to develop background knowledge on “Black History” month, this resulted with students asking a variety of questions.
Questions from students

As we introduce the topics of slavery, abolition, segregation and civil rights, the students will work in teams of 4 or 5. These topics will support Social Studies and the Language curriculum expectations through a variety of activities. During the mini-inquiry, we encourage students to ask questions, rather than have the teacher ask questions and expect them to supply the answers. As we work through this process the students will be rotating through workstations. This step helps to develop curiosity and interest in a topic. Next, the students will dig deep, investigate the topics and questions that matter to them.

How do you encourage authentic investigation in your class? Is finding 'time' to learn deeply an issue? Please join this discussion by sending your comment below! 

Created with the PhotoTangler collage maker app!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ask Questions and Wonder

Sharing and Learning
Teacher Collaboration

Talking and Learning

We started a book club with a group of teachers (JK-Gr.7) interested in learning more about inquiry-based learning. The book we are working on is called "Comprehension & Collaboration- Inquiry Circles in Action" by Stephanie Harvey & Harvey Daniels.

Book Club
At our last meeting we shared ideas and lessons.  Anne shared a lesson "Ask Questions and Wonder About Information" (pg. 121). Below you will find a video clip of the process and the learning  happening in her grade one class.