At the end of the school last year, I am proud to say that I had a pretty strong group of little PYP inquirers! They were very adept at using all the lingo and had a well stocked toolbox of skills (well, at least I can hope!) So much so that I had forgotten that they worked really hard to get to that point. I was soon reminded that the skills that seemed so natural to my Grade 2's at the end of the year, needed some nurturing and focus at the beginning of the year. Thanks to the teachers that came before me, this new crop of inquiring minds is fabulous and more than ready for this challenge!
I wasn't quite ready to jump into a Unit of Inquiry yet so I thought I would spend some time practicing formulating questions. The class was excited to hear that they would be the ones coming up with questions throughout the year , but they weren't quite sure how to go about it. We started off by brainstorming some "question words." Once they got the hang of it, they came up with all kinds.
Now that they had the question starters, I wanted them to practice using them. I wanted something lighthearted and fun, something that was close to my heart and close to theirs, something that really mattered. The choice was easy......ICE CREAM.
I gave groups slips of paper and they madly scribbled away their questions about ice cream...while I milled about and dreamed of eating ice cream......actually I could go for some right now.
Anyway, we gathered all our questions together and I put them on either the THICK side of the chart paper, or the THIN side. After I read a question, I spoke about how I could possible find out the answer....some I just answered very quickly and stuck them on the THIN side. Every once in a while, I would allow the students to Think-Pair-Share about why I was putting some questions on one side and some on the other. Natasha once told me this sort of thing encourages concept attainment.
Some of the questions required a bit of elaboration and finessing to put them into either category, but at the end of it, the class came to a very encouraging conclusion:
" Thick questions need a lot of work to answer. There are many answers. Thin questions a fast and easy to answer."
Although I told them that both thin and thick questions are great, THICK questions help us find out the most. I will soon see if this lesson sunk in when I have them formulate questions for UOI tomorrow. After this though, I can't help but feel optimistic that they have a new skill under their belts already.
Leigh Ann Fitch
Thank you for visiting! I am a Canadian who teaches and lives in Oman. My goal for this blog is to improve my teaching by learning from fellow colleagues all over the world and sharing my reflections!