STEP ONE - ASKING/SORTING QUESTIONS
Before we started asking questions, I gave the students a lot of background information about the regions of Canada as outlined in the Many Gifts program. We wrote little notes about how each region differs, and it gave students a taste of how diverse our beautiful country is.
Then I had students each pick a province (some had to double up), and I asked them to follow our guidelines for asking questions, mostly concentrating on ASKING AS MANY QUESTIONS AS YOU CAN!
Here is an example:
I had the students create their questions independently, and we used sticky notes in order to easily sort our questions later on into Google questions, Search and Find, and Wicked Wonders.
I found that with most students, we had a large number of Google Questions and Search and Find Questions, and only a few Wicked Wonders. I was happy with this for Grade 4s students at this point in the year!
STEP TWO: GATHER AND ORGANIZE
Next we picked the questions that we wanted REALLY wanted answers to - I asked students to choose three Google questions, four Search and Find, and one Wicked Wonder. We sorted them onto a large sheet of paper to help us Gather and Organize our information:
When we were researching the provinces, we typed in the name of the province and added "for kids" in the Google search engine. One really great website we found for provinces that worked well as a spring board for my higher level students, and great for my lower level students was KidZone Geography:
I found that my students could easily find information for their Google Questions and their Search and Find Questions, so I let them work independently most of the time, just taking small groups to check in and keep them on track. They also used their research skills to find other reliable websites.
STEP THREE: INTERPRETING AND ANALYZING
As students were gathering and organizing, I had them Interpret and Analyze at the same time using our co-created chart. This was an easy step for most and they were able to verbally tell me about the websites they were looking at as I went around from student to student.
For this step I decided to use PowerPoints with the Grade 4s. We use this application through Office 365, which works great - it's online so they can work on it from any computer, it automatically saves for students, and they can share it with me so I can check their progress along the way. Here is a sample from one of my students:
STEP FIVE: EVALUATE AND DRAW CONCLUSIONS
You will notice that I switched the last two steps of inquiry - but this seemed to work best for this project and our skill levels. My plan is to have students write out how their thoughts about the province they have chosen have changed since they began researching. I think I will use the following format:
First I thought.....
Then I learned.....
By the end of my project, I learned.....
And then answer the question - Would you like to live in the province you have researched? Why or why not?
As we worked through this inquiry project, I triangulated my data. While students were working, I had numerous conversations with them in groups and individually. I also observed how students were working at each stage of the inquiry process as we went along. I used a checklist to keep track of whether students need to work on a skill, are getting there with a skill, if have got it or if they are amazing at it:
In addition, when students present their findings on their PowerPoints, I will assess how they used their research on their rough sheets as well as the quality of their presentations - including oral and written aspects. Assessment of inquiry is an interesting task, but triangulating the data will hopefully give me a clear picture of what steps we need to work on next!