Where is the inquiry?

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 of rights, 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?



Filed under Action, Concepts, Grade 3, PYP, Unit of Inquiry, Who we are

5 responses to “Where is the inquiry?

  1. chiara

    well, well, well you might be right. We could have let them start their inquiry when the discussion about human rights took them to concentration camp and slavary. Although I have to say that the discussion we had on adoption lead them into a nice inquiry into the rights and responsabilities of kids and parents.
    What they are doing now with me could be seen as very highthinking and provoking – when they have to decide to which LP, Attitude or mission statement that book links to – it might not be pure inquiry, but at leat they are thinking and willing to deepener their understanding.

    I believe we did the connection, the invitation and we got a bit stuck in the tension bit. So that we didn’t let them investigate. What do you want to do? There are concepts they have to understand, they need to focus on their routine and there is a lot going on.
    What we could do is to meet and decide what to do in our next unit, having in mind that they have to inquire.

  2. nicpenny

    I think Chiara has the key there with her comment re the children’s discussion. By facilitating the discussion, guiding it with literature etc from there the inquiry can come. Also, I think the key to the planning process is to plan backwards – knowing where you want to end up can add loads of context to the rest of the unit. I think that a lot of how teacher directed it is depends on how far along in the unit you are. We are beginning a guided inquiry at the moment, and the next phase is to gradually release responsibility to the children. We are just beginning to generate questions together. Don’t beat yourself up. 🙂

    • Jessica

      Things have since changed so much.
      I believe their understanding of responsibility has definitely changed, and this will continue to be a focus throughout the unit, but also throughout the year.
      The day after posting, we introduced new literature to the classroom. And instead of leading anything or discussing this too much, all we did was look and explore the books. Grade 3 started a I see, I think, I wonder chart and have since been adding to it. Their wondering has shown deep interest in some issues, and next week we will hopefully explore this in depth.

  3. chiaraforti

    Again, we do need to let them to have some time to reflect and decide what they want to know more. We, teachers, urge to move on, but we should make sure kids have enough thinking time and freedom to inquiry, although their inquiry could take them off the tangent. So what? If it is true inquiry, you never know where it will take you. Isn’t it.

  4. Jessica

    Indeed and a timely reminder to just “let things happen” today. I think that tension is definitely building up….

    Elisa mentioned that the IAL kids have a big focus on themselves, and not themselves as part of a community. So maybe this is something we can build on during the unit as well….

    Another concern is that Grade 3 and Grade 4 are going in very different directions, and not due to (student) inquiry. Something to work on during the year. Though, again, it might be worth a challenge whether two grades should have the same planner… is it restricting? Is it possible?

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