Friday, March 1, 2013

American Symbol Inquiry

Every Sunday night I enjoy chatting with #1stchat teachers on Twitter.  I always learn so much from them and get inspired to try something new.  A couple of weekends ago, our topic was inquiry.  I knew very little about inquiry, but when I heard all the amazing things that were happening in the #1stchat teachers' classrooms I knew it was time for me to jump in.  I visited Mrs. Wideen's blog and got an idea of how inquiry process flows.  Also this post showed each step in action.  I also ordered a book called "Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action." 

I knew that American symbol study was coming up, so I decided to give it a try.

First, I modeled how to list my schema about the American flag.  Each student wrote their schema on a Post-it note.

Then, I modeled how to come up with questions/wonders.  My students tried turn & talk with several partners to brainstorm some questions.

After these steps, I introduced four more American symbols:
1.  Statue of Liberty
2.  Liberty Bell
3.  Bald Eagle
4.  Great Seal
The students chose one symbol to research.
They did the first two steps of inquiry in their small group.  I was happy with the questions that they came up.

Next day, we watched a video about American Symbols on BrainPop Jr.  I read a book about the American symbols.  Finally I read a book about the American Flag.  I modeled how to use a table of contents to locate a section that may have information to answer our questions.  We found answers to the questions and recorded them on the chart.

In the afternoon, the groups researched their symbol by reading books, watching the BrainPop video again, and searching on internet.

The following day, we all went back to my American Flag research again to create a lesson using an iPad app Educreations.  I gave my students choices of app to publish their research, but all of them decided to use Educreations.

We viewed all groups' lessons to learn about the American symbols.  Everyone was so proud to share their production.  I love how some students sat up a little taller when it was their group's turn:)

Over all, my first inquiry circle went well.  What I was excited most about was seeing my students so motivated to research, collaborating to find information, and talking and helping each other to record their findings.

What I learned about inquiry is that I have to be prepared to provide a lot of resources, such as books, videos, and websites.  I feel that one of the challenges is to find enough books that are not too difficult for my first graders.

Well, will I try inquiry again?  Most definitely!!  Do you use inquiry in your classroom?  It would be great if you could share your ides!