It took me a long time to write about this project because I wanted to make sure that this blog post did justice to the excellent work produced by students. Mrs. Smith and I were proud - VERY proud of the effort displayed during the course of this inquiry project. We decided to share this project at the NYSCATE Digital Wave Conference. If you are a teacher looking for project documents or more of the technical aspects of this unit, click here: Inquiry Project Information Page. Continue reading to see the steps the students followed.
On the first day of the project, students were divided into groups by Mrs. Smith and assigned a planet to be the focus of the inquiry project. The groups were then introduced to the specifics of the project.
|This slide outlined all of the important details students needed to know about the project.|
To begin inquiry, we asked the students to brainstorm questions that they would like to answer about their planet. During this phase of the project, it was important that students worked independently and without judgement. We weren't looking for perfection - instead, this was just a brainstorm designed to generate questions that may possibly turn into a research focus.
|Step 1 of the inquiry process required creating research questions.|
|Each question was written separately on a small square of paper.|
|Group members worked individually to generate questions.|
|Students learned that they must eliminate duplicate questions and questions that cannot be answered through research.|
|This list served as a model for sample questions.|
|Students successfully picked out the questions that contained opinion language.|
|Groups sorted through their questions, eliminating duplicates and opinion questions.|
|The directions for Step 3 of the process.|
|The example showed students possible ways to group their questions.|
|Teams used different strategies to organize their questions.|
|Students needed to work together to agree on grouping ideas for questions.|
|Directions for topic selection.|
|Students grouped similar questions then labeled each group with a Post It.|
|An example of a finished student topic list.|
|This step outlined how to transfer the research questions into packets.|
|This is an example of a outline.|
The sixth grade teams were already familiar with the different sources available for research, but they received refreshers about how to use books, approved websites, and library databases. Students also used SNAP, a resource provided by CA BOCES, to compile video clips and other multimedia resources. In order to avoid plagiarism and stay organized, groups filled out a MLA-style note sheet for each source used. By accessing these resources, groups were able to find the answers to their questions about planets!
|Student groups working on research.|
|The books were great resources!|
|An example of a note sheet. Students filled these out for every book, website, and database article used during the research process.|
|This is an example of a lesson plan template completed by a student group.|
|Some groups used PowerPoint to organize their lessons.|
|Brain Pop was a popular way to assess student learning.|
Due to the positive response from students, we will be looking for more ways to incorporate inquiry across subjects and grade levels.