Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Inquiry Buddies...Part One

The big day arrived!  One of our cute first grade buddies (ok...I am bias...it was my daughter :), delivered their "wondering notebooks" to our classroom.  Notebooks were stacked up to her nose.  As I bent down to take the notebooks from her she whispered..."You have a lot of work to do" and bounced her way back down to her first grade classroom.

I turned to look at my fourth graders who were wide-eyed, eager, and full of anticipation to see all the questions that our first grade inquiry buddies had.  As we went through each buddy's notebook, I was hearing comments such as...
"What a good question!"
"I think I know the answer but I don't know how to say it."
"I remember seeing a section in the library that had books on cats."
"I wonder if Wonderopolis would have this question."

And...what were some of the questions...
"Why do frogs have long tongues?"
"Why do dogs shed their fur?
"Why do teeth fall out?"

Off to the library we went to find the answer to their questions!  Wonderful lessons occurred for my fourth graders.  We talked about pulling a topic out of a question and using the library database to search for books.  We practiced using the table of contents and index to look for keywords before skimming through a book.  But...I think the biggest lesson we learned was patience!  In a world where "Google" is at our fingertips, we realized that the answer might not be in the first book we look in.  The answer may not be directly stated...we may need to infer the answer to our question and collect several pieces of evidence.  We realized the importance of photographs/diagrams/text features and how they support our explanation of something new.  By the end of the forty minutes in the library, we had worked independently and moved to supporting partners with finding the answers in books.  Whew!  All answers were found!

As the facilitator, what did I notice the most?  I noticed the students were engaged with a purpose.  My fourth graders were motivated by the idea that they needed to confirm their thinking or find an answer for an audience.  The library was buzzing with the research process.  And once again...it was all about patience.  As Edmund Burke once said, "Our patience will achieve more than our force."


  1. I thought your ideas was fabulous so I set up a partnership between my 5th graders and a 2nd grade classroom. Today was our day to explore answers to the 2nd grade wonders. I chose to take the tech research side as I want to help my student refine their searches, site their sources, find visual helps, and work with Google Docs. We also had a grand time. I think after doing this supported in class another time or two I could give them the wonders as homework.

    Thanks for the great idea!

  2. Excellent article-graet ideas and what a fun connection with your buddies. Can't wait to read more

  3. I am happy to hear that the partnership is working for you as well! Stay tuned...part two of sharing with our buddies will come next week! :)

  4. Mrs. L...I hope you will share more about the tech side. Maybe that could be our next step :)