Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A Spark Has Ignited!

One of my favourite ways of teaching is through Inquiry-Based Learning.

One challenge with this type of learning is that you are not able to do much planning ahead of time. Over the holiday I talked with many educators and did a lot of reflecting about how to get an inquiry started. I asked my Twitter teacher friends "Where does the spark come from?"

In my experience, I have noticed that inquiries often develop out of:
-Observing student interests
-A problem that needs to be solved
-A connection with another class or student
-Shared experiences
-New materials being introduced 

When we came back to school in January, I was not sure where our spark would come from. I decided to be as observant as possible, expose my students to other classes using Twitter, and put out inviting materials that might inspire some new questions.

On Monday I observed a student playing police by running and pretending to shoot others. Generally I would try to re-direct this behaviour towards something more safe and peaceful. Fortunately, our wonderful Educational Assistant, Mrs. Mitchell stepped in and chose to engage in the play. She talked to the students, played with them and listened to their interest in becoming police officers when they grow up. Way to go Mrs. Mitchell!

I then invited the students to visit the library to find some books about police so that we could learn more about what they do. We used the library computer to look up and find the books available. 

Since then we have:
-Watched videos using Discovery Education
-Read many books
-Explored the role of Police Officers
-Written an invitation to our local community support officer to invite her to visit our class
-labelled the parts of a police officer's uniform
-brainstormed questions to ask a Police Officer 
-participated in lots of playing by collecting evidence, writing down clues, making and answering phone calls, helping those with emergencies, and much more!

Such rich language and ideas!
I should also mention that through this inquiry project we are meeting many curricular outcomes in English Language Arts, Math, and Social Studies.

These boys wrote this letter all by themselves!
Asking Mrs. Couch to deliver our letter.
A "Police inquiry" is definitely not something I would have started but I have been so pleased with the level of student engagement and learning that is happening in our classroom. Please stay tuned for updates.

Making observations and asking lots of questions.
Collecting evidence
Writing down the address and clues to help solve a case.

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