My Primary Passion.)
"Uncertainty is the foundation of inquiry and research." (page 59)
One of my strongest beliefs is that my students are in a classroom that not only appreciates wonder, but that the students in my classroom are surrounded by language and structures that nudge them to act on their wonder in the form of curiosity through conversations, questions, and facts. Peter Johnston emphasizes the point that it is this uncertainty that promotes dialogue among the students and creates a structure that is an avenue to learning and inspiring new questions. As I begin to create my "skeleton" of a schedule for the upcoming year, it reminds me how important an inquiry workshop can be to support dialogue, wonder, informational text, vocabulary, and purposes for learning in the classroom.
My vision for my inquiry workshop this fall still takes place in a consecutive three-day format. (With this being said, this is not the only opportunity that the students have for the inquiry process or dialogue from uncertainty.) The inquiry workshop format I use is to ensure that I have a structure in place that is predictable for the students and fosters each student's curiosity within our curriculum and our world. Here is the structure I am envisioning for our inquiry workshop during the first quarter of the school year. The structure of the workshop changes as we go through the year, but starts off predictable and guided. On Day One...I use Wonderopolis.org as a mentor text for modeling strategies and concepts that involve informational text. The Wonder of the Week that I pick integrates back to the curriculum that we are studying in any content area. This is when we "quick write" about the wonder to build writing stamina and appreciate known knowledge, watch a less than five minute clip to stimulate background knowledge or wonder beyond the known information, annotate on the text, and formulate new wonderings through dialogue to celebrate the information called "I did not know that YET, but now I know so what am I thinking NEXT?" On Day Two...I provide a variety of picture books or informational text on the topics that were developed through their new wonderings/conversations on Day One. Students use the text to have dialogue about what was uncertain and share the new information they have found. Mini-lessons include how to use text features to find a topic in an informational text, how to draw conclusions from text features, how to draw conclusions if your answer was not found explicitly, etc... During first quarter, I gather the books for the students so we can focus on text patience (they are use to finding the answer right away with the Internet), manipulating an informational text for a specific purpose, sharing new information, and steering away from formal research. We then add additional wonders based on Day Two's "known" information. On Day Three, we use the laptops to inspire dialogue and media reading. Same process as Day Two but with a technology focus. Many times our research goes back to Wonderopolis.org.
Here is an example of what occurred last year for one student:
Day One: I modeled a strategy with Wonder 236 How Long is the Longest Bridge?
Day Two: The student researched the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Day Three: The same student used Wonder 329 to answer their questions about fog.
See the connection? Bridge...Golden Gate/San Francisco...Fog
My second thought...Last week I mentioned that I thought "next" should be added to the list of single words that change everything. Here are some quotes I read this week that build upon that thought...
"Adding "Could you think of other ways that would also work?" is even better because it invites children to imagine alternative strategies..." (page 40)
"This has two advantages. First, it takes what the child has already done and turns it into a successful agentive experience. Second, rather than starting from scratch, it starts instruction with something the child already knows." (page 47)
"After responding to a piece of writing, showing that you are taking the writing and the writer seriously, you might offer a potential causal process." (page 46)