Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Focus on Inquiry – Designing worthwhile tasks for students

                              Hola Readers,

I have had several parents asking about inquiry and task design, as they want to support their children with the schoolwork that is coming home. I really admire the parents’ eagerness to help their children with their work; I do that as a parent as well. The communication between teachers and parents is fundamental for the development of a great learning environment for the children. So how do we describe our focus on inquiry and the tasks we are creating with and for our students every day?

Please, take a look at this chart:

This chart gives a great summary on what inquiry and designing tasks at school represent. Designing a task that is worthwhile the time of our children is fundamental to support their learning and to make the most of our instructional time.

I am going to share with you the approach that I use when I focusing on inquiry and on creating worthwhile tasks with and for my grade 2 Spanish Bilingual class:

First, I take a good look at our Alberta program of Study:  then...

2-    I select the outcome (s) I want to achieve during that week, month or for an unit;
3-    Based on that outcome (s) I select topics to present to my students;
4-    In our class’ meetings, I present the topics to the students and let them discuss and select the ones that interest them. Students need to justify their choices;
5-    Sometimes we need to hold an “election” to identify which topic we will be working on;
6-    Once the topic is chosen we start gathering resources to start developing our tasks;
7-    It is at this point that I try to “hook” my students into what they will be working on. Sometimes a few of them are already hooked just by the fact that the theme is very dear to them.

What is the hook? 

8-    The hook is something that will make the students excited about what they will be learning or working on. Sometimes the students themselves establish what “hook” they want to use;
9-     On this step we have “all hands on deck”, here we use the resources that we have to start our work, it can be searching for information on the computer, using books from the classroom, home and library, creating surveys to learn from other people, and so on.
10-     We think about our task as an umbrella, and we try to define what is really important and what we want to focus our attention on...

11-     From this point on, we decide what activities we will do in order to learn more about the topic we have chosen. As I teacher I guide and suggest activities, I support the students on their journey, I help them to overcome struggles, to brainstorm about solutions for the problems…
12-    Students can work together or individually if they prefer… they ask questions to each other, they investigate and develop an idea, a project, an activity and so on.
13-    When we have our “final product” we share it in class, with parents, sometimes with other classes/grades in our school, and we blog about it!

This is just one of the many ways we can work on inquiry projects and task design in our classrooms. Each teacher might use a different approach toward inquiry and designing tasks. Sometimes the steps can be overlapped or switched in case something new arises, nothing is “written on stone”.

I will select samples of the tasks design we have created based on an inquiry project that are completed or are still in process in our grade 2 class.
More information on inquiry projects and on designing task can be found here:

Thank you for reading,

Sra. Sasse

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