Our inquiry cycle started out with many guided experiences then culminated in a completely student-led seminar. Let’s take a look at our cycle.
- #SmashboardEdu: We started out with the essential question, “What are some issues young people face today?” and used this #SmashboardEdu guide. After coming up with concerns, students teamed up to do some initial research. (Collaborative slide deck here and blog post here)
- Question Formulation Technique: After brainstorming social concerns with #SmashboardEdu, students were placed into teams based on the topic they were most interested in. We used this QFT guide to generate open and closed questions. (Blog post here)
- Collaborative Research and Presentations: As a team, each inquiry group answered questions from their QFT then presented their findings in oral presentations. (Student samples here, here, and here)
- Student Created Logos: As a side quest, some groups created logos using Google Drawings. (Slide deck here)
- Thesis Statements: Individually, students created thesis statements that would guide their independent research. (Student samples here)
- Articles Reviews: Students used two self-selected sources (with my approval) to answer their essential questions. Through a process of writing, peer editing, and teacher feedback, students wrote their article reviews that provided background information of the social concern and a variety of solutions to help solve the problem. (Samples here, here, here, and here)
- Demo Slams: Each group created a digital and oral presentation. The digital piece was to have very few words and the oral presentation was to focus on solutions and include an interactive experience for the audience. Groups created, practiced, and refined their presentations. The goal time was 10 minutes. Peer evaluations were completed during the demo slams. (Sample here)
- Social Awareness Seminar: For our celebration of learning, we held a Social Awareness Seminar for our fifth grade classes and parents. The fifth graders were able to choose topics they were interested in and attend those sessions. Our sixth graders dressed up, were knowledgeable, confident, and had fun. It was a perfect culmination to our social awareness inquiry. (Sample slide decks here, here, here and here)
We had a busy and productive year. We started the year in the shallow end of the inquiry pool and ended in the deep end. With lots of support and encouragement along the way, I’m proud to say that my sixth graders are leaving me as confident, independent scholars that were allowed to share their voice.
Educators, after 25 years of teaching, I’m still stretching, learning, and more importantly, trusting my students. We are in a new era in education. It’s time for us to make learning relevant, bring in student interests, and loosen up the reigns. It’s a journey. It’s taken me three years to get here. But the rewards of seeing my students share their voice, learn through experiencing successes and even failures, is worth any discomfort we may have. I encourage you to take on an endeavor next year that may make you uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure if we could handle these deep topics, but we did. I cried more this year than any other year (out of pride). I stepped out of my comfort zone, and I’m so glad we did.
On another note, if you’re interested in starting or refining your inquiry journey, I highly recommend Dive into Inquiry and Inquiry Mindset by Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt and Trevor MacKenzie. If you’re interested in problem based learning and want to try #Smashboardedu, give Dee Lanier a follow or check out SmashboardEdu.com.
#MuchLove . . . Marilyn ❤️