Saturday, January 3, 2015

Building Inquiry Into Your Teaching!

Building inquirers helps our students become more creative and think critically when it comes to solving problems. Fortunately, there are a lot of things that we can do and ARE doing to help our kids become world changers! In the primary grades, there are lots of simple things we can do to encourage creativity and thinking instead of giving them all the information up front. I'm certainly not an expert, but here are a couple of easy things I will be making sure I do as I get the kids back into the school routines!

one: practice asking questions. 
Kids don't always know how to ask questions. Or they get stuck in a rut of asking the same kind of question over and over again. A great way to practice is using family pictures, or things that the kids bring in. Having a sharing time is perfect too! When kids get to practice asking those good thick questions with topics they are familiar with, they feel more comfortable asking questions about the unknowns.

two: you make the rule.
I use word/number sorts in stations a lot. Once they get the hang of it, I sometimes leave out the headers and let them make the sorting rule. It is interesting to see the connections kids might make with different words that we might not think of. Or how they group numbers together as opposed to what the directions might have said. Kids need the opportunity to think outside the box. We are still giving them some guidance, but allowing them to make the connections.

three: creative writing
Writing prompts are all fine and good, but we also need to let kids explore ideas. Two favorite books I like to use are The Squiggle and Not a Box  They both help scaffold the kids in coming up with ideas, but serve as a great spring board for them to come up with new creative ideas. I have been amazed at some of the things the squiggle turns into! Getting back into the routine of school would be a great time to get kids thinking outside the box!

four: make a parking lot
Kids are always asking questions, some times it is a good time to ask, other times, there just isn't enough minutes to explore the question all the way! Add the question to the parking lot! That way the student still feels like their question is important and you are continuing to foster the culture of inquiry. Make sure you make a time to look for the answers at another time. Save some time of Fridays or using it as a writing/research activity, or independent work stations.

five: debrief
At the end of a lesson, talk as a class about what you learned, any questions they have, and what they want to learn next. The more kids talk, the more you can learn what kind of connections they are making. We won't ever know how deep (or not) the kids' understandings go unless we talk about it on a daily basis! To be honest, this is what I forget to do the most, the rush to lunch or related arts takes over and we don't take the minutes to reflect. But I hope that slowing down and talking more about our learning will help us become better inquirers! 

Good luck heading back to school! 

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