I have been trying to find engaging and effective ways to begin our Units of Inquiry at the Tuning In phase to set the stage for maximum interest and involvement for the inquiry ahead.
I have begun using Chatterboxes as a tool for Tuning In. The idea came from Kath Murdoch’s book Classroom Connections: Strategies for Integrated Learning. Although you can do this by hand and have children color it themselves which helps them to create meaning, I made an electronic template to edit according to each current Unit of Inquiry. (See below for the Pages document you are welcome to download and a slide show on how to fold it).
I used to enjoy making and playing with these origami paper puzzle games as a child, so I feel that students these days would enjoy this too. However, unlike my childhood, I am able to ask them to play the Chatterbox in front of the Apple using Photo Booth to record themselves. We then use this as an audio visual snap shot to reflect on as we learn more, to share with parents or to incorporate in to portfolios. Later the same Chatterbox can be used, and again recorded, to check for learning.
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I also noticed two colleagues, John Wolfe and Carla Heard, asking their classes to Tune In by “unpacking” their Central Ideas using what I will call a Word Walk.
Carla uses Bus Stops (a form of round robin) for each student to explain each meaning of the key words, which are color coded, within her class’ Central Idea. Meaning is discussed and displayed in some form.
John (the slideshow shown below) asks groups to discuss and write their combined and agreed meaning on sticky notes to then place around each key word for permanent display and for referral throughout his class’ Unit of Inquiry.
This week, I will be trying a combination of both.
I will ask students to individually respond to the meaning of the key words which are color coded by using sticky notes to place on the display.
From this I will be able to assess their ideas and knowledge for discussion and couple it with their own questions further planning of the Unit of Inquiry ahead.
This teaching tool helps me structure individual accountability and appropriate participation.
Leigh Ann showed this and I use it everyday: I made little laminated pictures of my students with magnets taped onto the back for use on my regular magnetic whiteboard for anything that needs immediate organization and constant access/viewing throughout the day. Using an Interactive Whiteboard Flip Chart would be great too but this is quick and easy.
Today I asked my students to think about and discuss what skills they had that would compliment others individually, in partnerships or in a small group to work begin an inquiry together. They spent little time thinking and jumped straight to deciding who to work with. They also seemed not so happy. REWIND.....
I quickly put their magnetic photos together for Inside Outside Circles. I asked the green partner to tell their red partner one subject specific skill they felt their red partner had which would benefit the inquiry. I then asked the red partner to do the same. The green circle then moved one position clockwise. We repeated the process a few times. I then asked the green partner to share with their red partner one social skill which they felt their red partner had which would benefit the inquiry process. I asked red partners to do the same and repeated the process a few times again. This all took about 10 minutes.
This allowed each person to be direct and focused. Plus each person provided and received valuable information about their own skills and a the skills of potential inquiry partners.
Students were then able to quickly make independent informed choices about how they wanted to group themselves. My only requirement was that were aware and made final decisions with sensitivity and act with compassion if others were alone and were not intending to work individually. The looks on their faces were of satisfaction and happiness.
I learned this from Classroom Management: A Thinking & Caring Approach (1994) by Barrie Bennett & Peter Smilanich