Here is instalment two of our inquiry journey where Leon describes the approaches taken. If you want to know why we began this journey, you can read about it here.
Before throwing myself into the unknown, I had to learn about the process of inquiry. I had previously had many conversations with our librarian, Senga about Inquiry Learning but had always made excuses that I was too busy to make this happen in my room. Looking back, I now realise I was scared to give away power and too proud to acknowledge that I didn’t have all the answers. (Told you I was a control freak!)
I knew that if this was to work I would have to acquire help from others. This would also mean opening up my classroom and putting my practise under scrutiny.
Two books I read which were to become my bibles were:
Creating a Learner-centred Primary Classroom by Kath Murdoch & Jeni Wilson and Guided Inquiry Design: a Framework for Inquiry in Your School by Carol Kahlyhau, Leslie Maniotes & Ann Caspari.
These gave me some foundation and ideas to move forward.
I realised that I really did not understand what good research looked like, nor did I have the skills to teach them to my students. This is where our school Research & Learning Coordinator Senga became the first big piece of putting this puzzle together. My students and I met with her for several sessions where we learned how to research in books and online, how to synthesise important information and take notes, and reference our sources of information.
My students had never gone through the Inquiry process before so we decided to all explore the same topic. We had already worked on a unit around healthy eating and so decided to look at sugar in foods and whether all the hype in the media had any substance.
I quickly realised this was becoming massive! There were millions of questions that we were losing track of and we would need help from experts to find answers.
We decided we would brainstorm a list of people we may need to call on for help and the “Wonderwall” was born!
The Wonderwall is our dumping ground for questions that that arise during research. We had sticky notes available at all times to write questions. Everyone answered each other’s questions as they came across relevant information.
We approached staff members as experts to work with us and a great group of people got on board, prepared to help at any time. We already had access to a great research person from our library, who was also very good giving us ideas and resources for documenting our journey. She was joined by a scientist, a P.E. specialist, a leader of learning, an English major with exceptional skill in photography and video, an Alternative Pathways teacher who the students have great respect for and a Mathematician & Physics teacher with a passion for teaching. This would become a great starting group to get things rolling.