Friday, October 14, 2011

"In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back of the book." -Charlie Brown

The answers may not be in the back of the book but...INQUIRY BUDDIES can help!  Check out how a fourth and first grade classroom are developing a partnership and implementing INQUIRY BUDDIES!

Reading with curiosity and wonder is one of my greatest wishes for my fourth grade readers.  As a teacher, I know that my responsibility is to provide students with the opportunity to act on their wonders in the form of show the readers how to take their wonder and go!  Go find a book that might reveal the answer, find a website that might confirm their thinking, and have the opportunity to appreciate their new knowledge and act on it.  What a beautiful cycle full of authentic reading experiences and choice!

So...inquiry it is!  Inquiry is one of my constant wonders that I have for teaching in the classroom.  All of the professional reading I have read on inquiry, especially the book Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action by Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels, has sparked the creation of an inquiry workshop.  I am fortunate to have a colleague who has become intrigued with inquiry as much as I am.  We are constantly discussing what that process would like, how to incorporate Wonderopolis, picture books that would inspire, connections to our content areas...the list goes on!  The best part of the conversation is that she teaches first grade and I teach fourth grade.  It is interesting to me to see the foundation in the early grades and how it is built upon in the intermediate grades.  Through these conversations, INQUIRY BUDDIES were formed!

My classroom will be pairing with my colleague's first grade classroom.  Her students will be "wondering" and questioning from their content area studies and also their own six year old wonderings!  They will write down their wonderings and send them to us.  The fourth grader's job???? To find a text that reveals the answer to their wondering.  Once we have found the answers for all of the wonderings, we are going to meet as inquiry buddies.  The fourth grader and first grader will read the portion of the text that contains the answer.  They will celebrate the answer by writing it in their question notebooks and drawing an illustration of their new learning.  But does the process stop there???? Nope!  When we go back to our own nook in the school, the first graders will ask new wonderings developed from their new knowledge or the classroom.  My fourth graders will develop a new wondering off of "what they know now" and research their own wondering during inquiry workshop.  So...if a first grader asks, "Can penguins fly?" and together the inquiry buddies learn that penguins do not fly.  A fourth grader might come back to the classroom and wonder about Antarctic expeditions and how scientist study penguins.  

Our goal is not for the fourth graders to just find the answers, but for the fourth grader to be a partner in the first grader's first step of the journey to acting on their curiosity.  Also, for the fourth graders to act on the new information that they have gained.  This is where we are starting...not sure where this will go...but we are curious to see!


  1. Thank you for your excellent post. I have shared it with other teachers at my school. I have been looking for a way to take reading buddies up a notch ... beyond just reading together and sharing some writing pieces. Inquiry Buddies is exactly what I was looking for. It will help the grade 1 class to formulate good open questions and will give an authentic audience for my grade 5's to practice their research skills.

    Tara Mitchell

  2. Tara, Glad you found the post helpful! I hope you get a chance to read my other post...Inquiry Buddies...Part one. It includes the first phase of the process. We have done part two...meeting, reading, and recording with our buddies. That post will come as soon as parent/teacher conferences are over :) Please come back and leave a comment/ideas/suggestions after you give it a try! :)