Day 8 (Friday)

Fridays are currently a very special day at the school, as Reception-Year 6 spend the mornings going to swimming and athletics in Pisa. That means that we only have the afternoon slot for teaching, which is also shorter than usual, as lunch and garden time get delayed by about 30 min.

Our plan for the day was for the groups to start their marketing campaign, to make group decisions and to think about the central idea and lines of inquiry as part of their campaign.
As the activities and businesses are taking over, I find it becomes more and more important to link back and reflect on the connection to the central idea and lines of inquiry. I created a work sheet for the students to use as a guide for their campaign, based on the actual lines of inquiry:

  • Purpose of your marketing
  • The marketing strategies and techniques you used (and why)
  • The responses to your marketing (as a reflection at the end).

This gave the students more focus when faced with the task to market their business. We were very impressed with the choices to stick to posters and flyers instead of tv spots, etc. as the time is limited.

The groups identified what needed to be marketed, what information should go on what and created first posters to be looked at by their whole group.

I worked closely with the talent show, who had to market two things: the talent show for potential participants, and the talent show for the audience.

It worked well and most groups have created logos, used the featured that make posters stand out, persuasive language and appropriate information.

On Monday we hope to continue this in the afternoon with the Italian teacher as well, as our advertisements should reach the whole school community.


Day 7 (Thursday)

Let me start off with the homework. The students were given three research questions as part of a small market research opportunity. This tied in nicely with some Math objectives, as you will be able to see.

  • How much would you expect to pay for a car wash?
  • What do you consider a good deal for a piece of cake and a drink?
  • Would you participate in a Talent Show?

The students had all asked either one or both of their parents and we had a good turn out. It was amazing how varied the responses to questions 1 and 2 were, but it gave us an opportunity to look at the Range, Mode, Mean and Median of the results, and to decide which one of them will help us to identify a suitable price. We made a suggestion to share with the other group on both those questions. We also presented the findings as:

  • a tally chart, and
  • a bar graph

The other question was simple. We had an overwhelming majority of people who said no. We thought of ways to present the data visually, and a bar graph was made. Someone mentioned a pie chart, so we (heavily guided) converted the numbers into percentage and showed it in a pie chart.

Then we had to share the findings with the other class and the groups had to use the data to inform their choices about their businesses.

As they split up into their groups, we guided the groups in refining their business plans. We had created a guiding worksheet/checklist for the session as well, to make sure that all those things would be in place. Goals for the lesson were:

  • to decide on a place and time for the business to be “open”
  • to decide on roles in the business (re-defined)
  • to decide on resources needed

The process took some time, as group-working skills, communication skills and organizational skills were developed.

In the afternoon, I worked with my class on defining marketing in more detail (again). A lot of the time the difference between marketing and advertising becomes blurry. We created another (wonderful) mind map (unfortunately on the whiteboard) and we looked at the samples of advertising and marketing the students had brought in over the last few weeks. We looked at logos, fonts, layout and the language of the advertisements. We identified the strategies used (buy one, get one free; circus only 6 Euros (without knowing the original price); happy hour, etc). As we reached the end, the students worked on initial ideas for their marketing campaign.

Day 6 (Wednesday)

The students from both classes (Year 3/4 and Year 5/6) came together to present their business ideas to each other and to persuade the other people why their idea is the one to go for. We had to choose four viable business ideas to pursue during the rest of the inquiry.

The different groups presented their arguments, the others questioned them, asking about their intentions, plans and they were very critical. We had to be realistic, after all.

The ideas presented were:

– Talent Show
– Car Wash
– Bake Sale
– Bar/Café
– Who wants to be a millionaire
– Comic Books
– Charity (although during the discussion they made it clear they wanted the profits to go to that charity and not be seen as a separate business)
– Christmas Decorations
– Theater Group
– Art Shop

After many discussions in groups, pairs, a lot of thinking and questions, the choices were narrowed down to:

  • Bake Sale
  • Bar (the Bake Sale and Bar would function together but as separate businesses)
  • Car Wash (they actually got permission from the Head for this as well!)
  • Talent Show

The process to decide was long, then the students had to choose the business they wanted to work in, which also took some time, as the groups had to be -more or less- equal in size. We later reflected on the process and noticed that we could have interfered with some of the groups:

  • One group consists of boys from Year 5/6 only
  • Bake Sale is only Boys
  • Bar is only Girls

But on the other hand, the groups work fine so far, so student choice may have worked best here.

After deciding on their business, the students went into their groups to answer the questions about the How, What, When, Who, etc about their business. They created spider diagram, and some groups went as far as deciding on roles (first ideas), shopping lists and dates.

The groups finally split up, with no consolidation phase, as us teachers wanted to review their work together in the afternoon.

Talk at lunch time, in the garden and the corridor has been about the businesses. The classes are absolutely thrilled and feedback during the current teacher-parent conferences show that the students take this very seriously and talk about it a lot at home.


During our collaborative planning time, we (the teachers) reviewed the spider diagrams, which serve as the first draft of the business plan. It became very apparent that some issues needed to be addressed. Students had to re-define their roles, as there are two stages to every business: the preparation, and the actual “going live” phase.

The Bake Sale and Bar had to work closer together, as some of their products overlapped and the Talent Show wanted to rather participate than prepare and run it. We wrote some suggestions onto all their plans for the next day.

As homework, the students had to do some Market Research in order to inform some of their business decisions.

They got three research questions to ask at home. I will report on that as part of Day 7.


Day 5

Our inquiry continued today. First of all, the morning message asked for words in Italian, English and other languages that relate to the inquiry. I love how enthusiastic the students get with those things.

A reflection during the morning circle on how the kids liked the Italian Inquiry session showed good responses and it helped the understanding of some children in class.

We continued the morning sharing some persuasive argument samples the students collected at home. Apart from two, all were advertisements. I liked the exceptions: One was a picture of the Berlin wall being torn down literally by hands, and the student said the persuasive argument was that all people should be free. Her other example was the Anne Frank diary (all people should be treated equally). Great thinking outside the box.

After talking about some key elements of persuasive arguments, the students split into groups to consider business ideas (brainstorm), followed by an evaluation (viable? realistic?) and pros and cons of the ideas.

Then we chose 4 main ideas and, again, in groups, the students created a persuasive speech about their idea, which they will present in the other class tomorrow.

Our collaborative planning session this afternoon was so good, we got a 25 Euro starting budget for every student business and tomorrow we will:

– share the business ideas amongst the two classes

– questioning

– decide on viable, realistic business ideas

– arrange the student groups

– create initial business plans


I am excited.

Day 3 and 4

Day 3 of the Inquiry was a Friday, which meant that the kids had swimming, so we did not have time for inquiry that day. We used the afternoon to prepare our end-of-unit presentation from the previous unit, as the week before we could not do it.

Day 4 was the big Monday after the weekend. We started off the day with a morning message, asking students to write down business ideas. I was shocked to see how their understanding of business ideas seems to have shifted over the weekend. Instead of products and possible enterprises, they thought of  other business elements, such as business people. But that was the weekend gone, and some things to go more in depth about.

We started the day with persuasive writing in Language though. This is the pre-step for our advertising campaigns during the unit. This was followed by our stand-alone Math investigation into Multiplication and Division.

On Monday afternoons we have “Italian” Inquiry, where the Italian teacher and the class teacher, i.e. me, work together. We explored words to do with our inquiry in groups (mother tongue and IAL). It was interesting to see how long that actually took. Then the Italians challenged the IAL speakers to translate some words. It was good and the children enjoyed it. Then we came up with first ideas for possible questions during our market research about marketing in the center of Pisa.



Day 2

The second day of our inquiry has been going well. This morning, before the morning circle, the morning message asked the students to complete a mind map that summed up the results of yesterday. It was quite a lot, considering how much we did yesterday.

In the first session, I presented the summative assessment to the students: They will present their own business, including their business plan, reflections on their marketing, their success and their roles in the business. The students were really thrilled by this big project.

To start us off, the students went into groups and completed a mind-map or list of what a business requires. Then we came together and accumulated our findings in one big mind map.

Following this, the students had to choose the nine things that are most important for a business and diamond rank them after. Lots of deep discussion and consideration happened at this stage. We completed the inquiry session by a quick reflection on their experience so far.

To buy or not to buy: Pre-assessment day 1

I started a new unit of inquiry with the students today. The central idea is “Marketing has an impact on the choices we make”.

We started off the session with a strategy called “Unscrambling the central idea” where student groups had to put together the central idea puzzle pieces, so it made sense to them. In my class they got it all the way it was meant, but in the other class they also came up with “Marketing has impact an(d) we make choices”. I thought that was quite thought-provoking as well.

Next we came together in the circle and talked about what the central idea means. I loved their descriptions, one of which even included the inquiry title. They seemed to be getting it quite well at that point.

Then we did “Walk about, talk about”, a strategy where the students write down anything they can think of about something. I used the lines of inquiry for this:

  • What is the purpose of marketing?
  • Marketing strategies and techniques
  • Responses to marketing

The responses were very good and after about 15 min we came back together in the circle to see what the students had thought of.

The discussion about the first line of inquiry mainly stayed on products we can buy/sell. I prompted the students to think of other kinds of marketing and then we moved on to marketing for good causes (helping people, recycling) and fun things (sports, theater, movies). Someone mentioned that the jumble sale the student council is arranging to raise money for new toys at school, is a good cause, and identified how they are marketing it.

The second line of inquiry (Marketing techniques and strategies) was fantastic in the discussion. The students thought of charity fundraisers (parties), store point/reward systems, special deals, people coming to homes, donation boxes, Kid’s menu toys at McDonalds, and secret/hidden marketing (the other class identified product placement too). Additional strategies were mentioned: email, sms, letters, posters, tv adverts, catalogues and more.

We did not get to discuss the third line (responses) too much, but the students talked about responding with pressure (feeling the need to buy it), anger (being disgusted by the price) and buying (and again, many more).


In our second session of the day, the two classes came together. But first my class and I talked about the central idea again. We looked at the important words in the C.I. and what they mean. We moved quickly on to the question whether we are influenced or whether we have a choice. Then we talked about informed choices. One excellent example was the choosing of eggs. Even though battery eggs are cheaper, the students said that an informed choice means we would think about the chicken’s lives and rather buy less eggs for more money (organic). We introduced the term ethical choice as well.

As we came together, the classes mixed and split into groups. They shared their results from the morning and then one member from each class recounted what the other class did. It was exciting to see how much they could learn from each other. As my class is the 8-9 year olds, and the other the 10-12 year-olds, the exchange was rich.

After sharing their experiences, the students were challenged to think about what our major project/focus and summative assessment could be. The groups were focused mainly on processes and strategies, but were very close to the actually planned assessment and their ideas will be helpful in informing our further planning.


All in all, this was an excellent start to an inquiry and I am looking forward to tomorrow where we will be looking at the big picture, the central idea and the summative assessment, or in other words, our goal. We will also brainstorm what a business requires. And then I will reveal to you as well what it is… 🙂