One strategy we use is a CAN, HAVE, ARE poster. The name of the topic goes in the middle of the paper and the other headings shoot off of it. Students choose to add information under an of the headings. This way we can organize our thinking. After we have started as a whole class, students move into small groups to have discussions and work as a group to create a poster to show their understanding.
When the students are done, they present their posters to the class. Then we add any new information to our whole class poster. Throughout our inquiry we will continue to add new learning to this initial brainstorm.
Another strategy we use is called a KWL chart. The headings of the columns are What we KNOW, What We WANT to Know, and What We Have LEARNED. This strategy is often the first one used to gather information about what students already know and find out what they are curious about.
Venn Diagrams are used to compare and contrast ideas or topics. Our class watched the animated version of The Velveteen Rabbit in order to prompt a discussion about the differences and similarities between a live rabbit and a stuffed rabbit. Students ideas were recorded on the Venn diagram. Things that were unique about each were recorded on either side of the circle. Characteristics that were shared go in the middle, overlapping section. By doing this activity, I was specifically looking for understanding about characteristics of living things. I was happy to see that students included information about breathing, eating, talking, etc. This will provide us with a foundation to move forward in our learning about all living things.