The success of our Passionate Kids Project experience could not have been possible without the buy in from my incredible students. We took the journey together and I’m honored to be their teacher. The class of 2017-2018 will forever be remembered for being part of the start of being an inquiry teacher.
Let’s get started on the reflection!
My biggest take away is that I need to start earlier and go slower. Next year, I need to think big, but start small. I started our inquiry unit in February with Caine’s Arcade, by March we were narrowing down our passions, April was spent writing article reviews, and May culminated our unit with Demo Slams and our Student-Led EdCamp.
Considering the types of student inquiry, I’d like to conduct two smaller units before the big passion project unit. In October, we spend six weeks studying Ancient Civilizations. I can see this being a perfect time to introduce structured and controlled inquiry. I plan to propose to students the option of working through an inquiry topic with me or choose from a short list of topics. The beauty of next year is that about half of the class was introduced to inquiry the previous year. I’m excited to take those students deeper. After the Ancient Civilizations unit, we have an Ecology unit of study. At this point, mid-November and December, I’m hopeful that some students will be ready for guided inquiry. Students needing more support will continue with controlled inquiry. I’m visualizing a menu for authentic pieces to help bridge the jump from controlled to guided inquiry.
I’ve been tinkering with game-based learning and I love creating hyperdocs. Google Innovator and Trainer, Dee Lanier, created SmashboardEdu. At the core, SmashboardEdu is instilling empathy in our students. Students begin by identifying a real world problem, research and solve the problem, share the solution, then reflect on their learning. I can see SmashboardEdu being a perfect fit with our Ecology unit. Several of the passion projects last year actually focused on endangered animals, pollution, and other environmental concerns. I’m excited to tap into the power of Dee’s resources and provide a fun way for students to answer their essential questions relating to Ecology.
As part of our gifted program, the sixth graders are asked to give back to the community. Considering the Four Pillars of Inquiry, the fourth pillar, “Take on a New Challenge,” is a perfect fit. I’d like to have students work in groups to identify a community concern and develop a community action project to help address the issue. In the past, students have held a Thanksgiving food drive, given gratitude bags to teachers and staff, donated dog and cat food to the local humane society, and more. I’m excited to go deeper with our service learning.
I dabbled a bit with provocations this year. I love the idea of sparking interest through an image, video, picture book, or artifact. We used provocations in our student-led station during Station Rotation using YouTube videos and with Google Drawings using images and the what do you wonder, what do you notice, what do you know strategy. I plan to start using provocations and phenomena earlier in the year. I want my students to tap into their emotions, curiosity, and engagement.
I’m looking forward to continuing my journey as an inquiry teacher during the 2018-2019 school year with my students, as well as other passionate educators ready to start their own journey. It’s been an exciting and rewarding year diving into inquiry. If you’d like to continue the journey with us, pick up the book(s) “Dive Into Inquiry” and/or “Inquiry Mindset”. Both books have been a continued source of inspiration. Both Trevor and Rebecca are passionate educators that love sharing their expertise in the field of inquiry. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter. Better yet, join their July book club using Flipgrid. Join here.
I can’t wait to continue my inquiry learning and bring phenomenal, open-ended experiences to my students that promote student agency, empathy, and authentic voice. If you have any questions or want to brianstorm, I've love to collaborate. I'm just a DM away.
#MuchLove . . . Marilyn