Is there a specific unit of study or that you are proud of that you can revamp to reflect the inquiry structure proposed?
We just started our inquiry unit yesterday. I've taught this unit the same way in multiple ways. The first thing I want the students to do is to choose a book based on our theme of the course which is justice/injustice. One student chose her book "Waking Up in Heaven" by Crystal McVea stating her reasons for choosing it as: "I chose it because there are some scenarios based on reviews that I have read, she's been through abuse and trying to make the best for her kids in which I can relate to a lot with this topic. It suites the theme of the course in the sense of control and power over abuse. It's very important to learn how to handle abuse, having control over something that some people think they can't have any control over at all. Control and power is a big theme for English because as writers we need to have power over our words in order to get messages across clearly. We are given the power as writers to portray how we feel, and our opinions on things and topics such as the discrimination topic. Power's a big theme, we need to learn how to control our power in the sense where it's effective but not taken advantage of. "
Out of the mouth of babes.
That is quite an amazing response from your student. I love the connection to power and control between abuse and the use of language to convey meaning. It is a pretty mature and insightful epiphany!
In our grade 11 college course the theme is truth and justice and the grade 11 university course is conscience and awareness. In grade 9 it is identity, which connects to the big independent study that runs throughout the course.
What do you mean by the second sentence, Alanna? How have taught the unit in multiple ways? I'm curious about the iterations.
These are my students to a tee! They are wildly insightful at times and often lack the confidence or positive past experiences to push themselves to accomplish more.
I've also taught grade 12 media arts about 6 times and I use exactly the same model (providing expectations and a timeline) and then ask the students to propose their projects. I conference with them multiple times and ask them to bring evidence of their progression, but basically I'm the safety net and they're working independently. In media arts, they have to tackle at least 2 of the 8 principles of media art, for example, perspective, hybridization, interactivity, etc.
I've also done this same format with presentations, where students propose what they'd like to develop a speech for, and then they work up to it with my support.
I find that the question is interesting; to me it is asking for me to (1) think of an existing unit that I am proud of and (2) that it be revamped to reflect the inquiry process.
I think Trevor MacKenzie's book suggests four types of inquiry, including guided, free, etc. with a gradual release of responsibility (from teacher to student).
I am proud of the myth unit in grade 9; it is based on a four level gamification model with a choose your own adventure story as the summative task. While there are elements of inquiry already embedded in each level, and the CYOA story could be spun as an inquiry task (kids learn the aspects of stories and storytelling), I would probably not revamp it with inquiry in mind, but I might reinforce it with more elements of discovery.
We are pondering the rewriting of our entire grade 10 course for next year. If contains a unit on dystopian/utopian literature I would love to infuse that with inquiry and gamification, placing kids in a dystopian/utopian world and having them discover aspects as they navigate the game.
What I would really love would be is if students in our grade 9 independent study unit (which has three texts and the stages which have been described in other posts in this book study) and added elements of research to allow students to really pursue an area of interest to them, to generate their own questions, and to manage the dates for completion of various tasks, choose their own products and find authentic audiences to share their work with, much like MacKenzie's graphic suggests. It is a unit that I am proud of that already has inquiry running throughout it, but I want students to have more ownership of the process and the product.
The graphic from Dive Into Inquiry reminds me of Larry Rosenstock's talk about High Tech High: Project-Based Learning at High-Tech High - YouTube
That is such an intense video! There's a quote at about 6:55 where the teacher says something like "It's a social change agenda that you get from doing this work. It's not about narrow skill training for a specific occupation." That kind of lifelong learning and adaptability to change is what I think we need to base our entire curriculum on.
I think I'm right in saying that the math and English curriculums are 15 years old now? We need an injection in greater focus on inquiry, triangulation of data and critical thinking.
That choice in research in my grade 12 English course comes up a couple of times. We look at the Toronto Star editorials online and then I ask students to pick one that they're interested in knowing more about. They research their chosen topic and work to prepare a) a report with at least 3 sources in MLA format and they can present the report either as a presentation or as a writing piece and b) a letter to the editor themselves which I ask them to send back to The Toronto Star.
I was struck by this illustration as I think it captures the inquiry process especially the way that inquiry can often meander and take non-circuitous routes ;)
I agree. One of my challenges is not over-organizing things for my students, taking something that should be organic and rendering it mechanical. I need to step back, allow things to get a little messy, and act as a guide as students navigate and learn from their own process/path/route.
Agreed, Derek. It is messy process. I also want to value the importance of leaving room for wonders and questions to arise from the students own thinking and experiences.We want to uncover what is meaningful to them during the study.
I agree because my biggest hurdle is still essential questions. I find that the questions often evolve. Is that ok? Do they need to be guiding the whole project or can they help us go deeper as they develop?
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