Inquiry Unit Progress

Friday, July 2, 2010

Inquiry Project Progress as of July 2, 2010

A few days ago, I posted my guiding question, my standards, and an explanation of my final project. Then, in doing more research, I found that I had been referencing the old Indiana standards, not the new ones. In this post, you will find:
* My revised Social Studies standards
* My essential understandings
* A few BDA strategies/activities I’d like to try

Revised Social Studies standards:
5.1.1 Identify and describe early cultures and settlements that existed in North America prior to contact with Europeans. (Core Standard)
Example: The Anasazi and Mississippian culture at Cahokia
5.1.2 Examine accounts of early European explorations of North America including major land and water routes, reasons for exploration and the impact the exploration had. (Core Standard)
Example: The Viking explorations and settlements in Greenland and North America; Spanish expeditions by Christopher Columbus, Hernando Cortes, Hernando de Soto and Francisco Vasquez de Coronado; expeditions by French explorers Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain; and expeditions for England and Holland by explorers Henry Cabot, Henry Hudson and John White
5.1.3 Identify and compare historic Indian groups of the West, Southwest, Northwest, Arctic and sub-Arctic, Great Plains, and Eastern Woodlands regions at the beginning of European exploration in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. (Core Standard)
Example: Compare styles of housing, settlement patterns, sources of food and clothing, customs and oral traditions, political and economic organization, and types and uses of technology.
5.1.4 Locate and compare the origins, physical structure and social structure of early Spanish, French and British settlements. (Core Standard)
Example: St. Augustine, Roanoke Island, Santa Fe and Jamestown

Guiding Question: Who really found America?
Enduring Understandings: At the end of this inquiry unit, I would like for my students to understand that there were a number of cultures involved in the formation of our country. They will understand that a number of Native American groups were here long before European explorers began to “claim” land. They will also understand that a number of European countries had explorers in the “New World.” Because we will be looking at these cultures during our study, I would also like for students to begin thinking about how these different cultures contributed to an American culture (but that will be more of a year long exploration, since they will need to study later history to see the connections).

BDA (Before, During, & After) Activities:
While exploring this week’s readings, I found a number of activities that appealed to me. I found myself thinking of lessons and activities that would fit different BDA strategies, and have started a list to keep on my desk throughout the year. While I found a number of strategies that I liked, I don’t think that using all of them in my inquiry unit is even close to practical. Figuring out the strategies that match my topics and materials is part of designing a good lesson! This will focus primarily on the BDA strategies that I think will work in my inquiry unit (but they aren’t necessarily final).
* Note: I’ll be using a number of books in this project. I found 32 books at the library and I’d like to use selections from the text book, too. Since there are multiple texts, some of the BDA strategies will be text specific. However, some of the “before” strategies will be used before ANY reading occurs, some of the “during” strategies will be used throughout the experience of the unit (I think Wilhelm calls this “gateway activities”), and some of the “after” strategies will occur at the end of all readings. I’ll try to note these things in my explanations.

“Before” strategies:
Anticipation Guide (website): This strategy will be used as part of the introduction to the unit as a whole. In the anticipation guide, I plan to have questions that will introduce students to the topics and establish a base of knowledge that we can return to throughout the unit.
List-Group-Label (page 2): I will be using this strategy as part of the frontloading for the entire unit. List-Group-Label appeals to me over brainstorming because it organizes the information within the brainstorming. I may actually combine this strategy with PreP (Pre-reading Planning – page 3) so that the students can not only organize, but elaborate on their brainstorming as well.
Checking out the Framework (website): I’ll actually be doing a mini-lesson on this strategy before we begin the unit. This strategy really emphasizes previewing a book to figure out how to best use it. I plan on using this strategy with my students, and also encouraging them to use it on their own to make the most of their reading experiences.

“During” strategies:
Key Concept Synthesis (website): This strategy will also take some teaching before students are prepared to do it on their own, but I believe that it will greatly help them in their exploration of texts. Because figuring out the important parts of a text is a difficult skill, this strategy will help students to identify and keep track of key concepts while they are reading, and then their notes will help them to make conclusions after the reading.
Directed Reading Thinking Activity (DRTA) (page 4): This strategy is all about making predictions, then checking your predictions and revising them. I think it is a great strategy to use with students because it makes reading an active process and it makes the kids more conscious of their understanding (because you can’t predict or check a prediction if you don’t understand).
Knew, New, Q (page 10) OR KWL: I say K,N,Q OR KWL because they are very similar strategies. I like the Knew, New, Q strategy because it encourages students to record their new findings and to record further questions that haven’t been answered. Since this whole unit is about inquiry and asking questions, I thought this strategy would be helpful in directing the students throughout their readings. It will help them to see what area needs more research as the “Q” helps them figure out where the inquiry will go next.

“After” strategies:
Entrance Tickets & Exit Tickets
(Wilhelm, p. 95-96): I think that entrance and exit tickets can be used interchangeably depending on the amount of time available in class during that session. I like the idea of using entrance tickets because they allow the students to think things over and write down questions that may guide the next lesson. Similarly, I like exit tickets because it gives the teacher a good idea of what went well, what needs re-taught, and what questions the students need answered the next day. I will be using this strategy after individual readings throughout the unit.
Heuristic Questions (Wilhelm, p. 98): This strategy will also be used throughout the unit. The “point” of this strategy is to encourage students to make connections between what they knew and between what they’ve learned. The reflection involved in this strategy could be done in learning/inquiry journals throughout the inquiry unit.
RAFT (website): I believe that this inquiry process has a design that aligns itself well with the RAFT strategy. While this is an “after” strategy, students will need to be introduced to it and reminded of it throughout their study. When the students are finishing their research and beginning to think about the final project, this strategy will really come into play.

While all of these strategies will be used throughout the unit, I believe that good discussion will be the tool that ties everything together. Wilhelm and Tovani both mention a number of “ingredients” that encourage good discussion, and I will be using a number of their suggestions throughout the unit. I’ve also been considering how to organize students throughout the unit to best encourage group discussion.

What now / What next:
I feel like I have gathered a lot of resources and looked into good strategies to use in this inquiry unit. Now, I need to be more specific in designing my activities and putting them into the timeline of the unit.


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