Where is the inquiry?

I have been busy blogging at PYP Explorers, so if you find nothing new here… pop over there! Thanks!

Today during a collaborative planning meeting involving the PYP coordinator and my teaching partner, I was painfully aware of the lack of inquiry in our unit.
A  lot of what we have been doing has been incredibly teacher-guided and I don’t see a change happening.
The unit itself could be classified as a “tough one”, maybe. The central idea Rights and responsibilities are important aspects of community life could be examined for relevance to 7 year-olds. The concepts ofrights, interdependence and community (related concepts), and perspective, responsibility and causation (key) are however accessible.

What am I trying to say? I am stuck. I want student-initiated inquires, student questions. I want obvious engagement, motivation, and action. But it seems that little so far has happened.

Any ideas?

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6 thoughts on “Where is the inquiry?

  1. Have you started with getting the kids to think about what their rights/responsibilities are in their homes? What rules are spoken/unspoken, then move on to how they act in public and how what they do makes them a good community member or not? (For example some children’s partents may require them to take part in community clean-up as a family, etc.) Then get them to think about what questions they have about being a good community member. Take suggestions from each other on things they could do, that are simple like manners in stores, restraunts, etc. Asking them what they could do as a class to make the school and larger community better?

  2. We have the same problems as you do. One of our ongoing goals is to deepen the whole inquiry process. Sometimes, what works is to start with a really strong provocation to get kids thinking ( rather than teacher setting the stage) That way, the kids already start asking questions from the start. Another point we have found is that often the more you plan, the less student initiated inquiry happens. Plan that strong provocation to hook them in, but then see where they take you. Have you read the Kath Short chapter in Taking the PYP Forward?

    • Thanks again for your comment, Ed!! I feel the same about planning, so I have left my planning fairly open this week. We have another 4 weeks with this unit (ahhh!) and I am not giving up. When I introduced two books We are all born free and For Every Child, some students were provoked and started to ask some interesting questions. I am trying my best to enable them to inquire deeply into this now, while others have no connection to it at all. It’s difficult, as always, but as you said on Twitter, responsibilities is not particularly an exciting and easily accessible concept for 7 year-olds. They did Healthy Choices in Grade 1, which, in my opinion already addresses personal responsibility, and later on a unit is looking at global responsibility.
      I will re-read Kathy Short, I have it out already. Just going to get another cup of coffee! 😉 Thanks Ed, lets keep this dialogue going!

    • Just re-reading Kathy Short…
      Things that stand out to me….

      “…first ask[ing] “How do I and others inquire?”. Once we explore inquiry as natural to learning, then we can engage in the difficult task of creating learning environments that immerse learners in these processes, rather in how we think they should learn.”

      I think this is something to print out or tattoo on my hand at the moment. How do I create this learning environment? Do I not provoke students enough at the moment? What in the classroom makes them inquiry into rights and responsibilities (nothing!). Good think to take to my collab planning with pyp coordinator today.

      Making connections to the concepts, not the topic.

      I think this unit of very conceptual, and we made connections to the concepts of responsibility (which, as you pointed out, is probably the leading concept here) immediately. What is the topic? Rights? Human rights? How to be in the classroom? Just thinking out loud. This unit is quite a hard one when it comes to this, if you ask me.

      I have to go to school in a few minutes, but questions is another thing I need to work on more. Have I not asked provoking, open and inviting questions?

      Let’s see what today brings! See you later

  3. I’ve been thinking about it more. I agree you have two key points here. One is the importance of the provocation and creating the environment where students are curious and want to know. The other is to connect through the concepts. Have you read Lynn Erikson’s stuff on concept based learning. See this post http://bit.ly/cD21Gt where I talked about it.
    Thanks for making me think things through. I’m enjoying learning together!

    • Hi Ed! I actually haven’t read Lynn Erikson’s stuff. I did read your post, and it’s a great provocation for me to find out more!

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