To make the most of the planning process in my junior school class, I have devised a a list of points to consider when looking at an inquiry topic.
This list came about after an examination of inquiry topics that I had taught with my Grade Four class in 2009. I also found inspiration in the book “Inquiry Circles in Action” by Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels.
Before developing a new inquiry, I believe I should look at previous inquiry units with a critical eye. I aim to improve design of the new unit by tossing out old, bad practice of my inquiry teaching and enhancing the good stuff.
When to use the checklist? I find it most useful when surveying the planning document before teaching the unit. I also find it useful during the course of the unit.
Does the inquiry show:
- in the plan
- in practice
- Kids’ own questions are central within the inquiry
- The topic is authentic, significant and relevant
- Thinking is at the centre of each activity
- Kids get to take a critical stance with an issue
- Kids take responsibility for their learning
- Kids take responsibility for something in their world
- Collaborative skills are taught
- Kids get to challenge/question a text
- Kids get to use language to persuade about an issue
- Essential literacy skills are developed
- The student voice is apparent
- Kids have created knowledge, built up from their own prior understandings
- Multimodal learning – kids have used and created non-print texts
- The inquiry has a real purpose and audience
- Kids have opportunities for caring and taking action
- Kids have used disciplinary tools, such as microscopes, surveys, timelines
- Teacher has continuously modelled the Inquiry Process
- Beyond the ‘facts’ phase, kids get to ask ‘So What?’
- Kids’ questioning is continuous
- Kids’ choice enhances differentiation
- the inquiry develops global awareness and a social conscience