Keeping Kids Organized During Inquiry

This post is part of my series of posts that chronicle a two and half week inquiry project from start to finish.  Here are some other posts in this series.

Explore More: Explaining what it is and the background of the project.

Going Deeper with Questioning: Sparking students’  curiosity using images.

Collaboration: Supporting students’ work in small groups.

Focusing on Process (not just product): Helping students reflect and document the learning process.

Helping students organize themselves and learn time management skills is an essential part of the inquiry process.  This year we gave each group a small report cover filled with essential documents to help them through the process.  It’s very important that students learn these management skills and that we support them in doing so.

Here are the books for the groups that I am managing this year. I've written a brief reminder note on a post-it to each group after reviewing their work for the past few days.

Each “book” starts with a wonder page.  When student groups initially met their first task was to brainstorm a list of questions both big and small.  They add to their page as more questions arise.  This is a great way to give them a daily reminder of the real purpose of their work.  To inquire into topics and questions that THEY find interesting.

This is an example of one group's initial wonder page

We also include a planning calendar for the duration of the inquiry.  This is a great way to teach students how to work on time management skill and helps them collaborate more efficiently.  I ask students to reflect on their calendar periodically during the course of the project to see if their predictions for time allotment were correct.  This helps them to build those skills for their next inquiry.  I model how to fill out these calendars at the beginning of the year.  Because we usually do inquiry work in two or two and half week segments students are used to the pace that they need to work at to get things accomplished.

An example of how one group decided they might spend their time. I love that they have included a day to practice!

As I wrote about in my last post, reflection is a big piece of our work this year.  We spend the last 5-7 minutes of every class reflecting on the day.  This has been really instrumental in helping the students develop their metacognition of the process.  It’s also a great tool for me to do a quick check on any issues or frustrations the groups might have.

Here's an example of one group's reflection form for the day. They've included a fact that hey found shocking as their learning for the day. Certainly they learned more than this, but the goal is to get them to discuss what they learned and decide as a team what to put on the sheet. Clearly this group had a great day collaborating. Not all groups will. This feedback is essential information so that we can inform our teaching for both whole and small group lessons the next day.

This entry was posted in Classroom Management, Collaboration, Inquiry, Research Workshop and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Keeping Kids Organized During Inquiry

  1. trstrother says:

    If they ever invent some form of time travel, I’m going back to 5th grade and coming to school in your classroom! Seriously some lucky students to have such an engaging process across the board.

  2. Pingback: Going Public With Learning | Inquiry Live in the Classroom

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