Tuning in: Getting started in the Inquiry Cycle
While the Primary Years Programme fosters student-led inquiry, there is a structure that is followed each and every unit, which is recognizable, familiar, displayed, and discussed with the students. The initial part of any unit must deal with the Central Idea; an enduring understanding which forms the basis for the unit. Then, the lines of inquiry are examined. These set the parameters for the inquiry to come and are often broad but specific in relation to the Central Idea.
Once the students have understood the Central Idea and lines of inquiry, the process of getting familiar with the unit begins. It’s important for the students to have access to a plethora of resources at this point as they throw themselves into the inquiry process. However, they must also become familiar with the language they are about to use, especially those that are English Language Learners. As such, we devise vocabulary lists to display and add to as we encounter new, unit-specific words. Another popular activity is “See Think Wonder,” where students are asked to explore stimuli that make them curious about the learning to come. Indeed, the last part of this activity gives us the questions to start our “Wonder Wall” in the classroom. The students, within this stage of the cycle, are becoming acclimated to the ideas, language and concepts that are associated with the unit.
We call this stage “Tuning In.” Once the students are confident in what the inquiry entails, they start forming their questions linked to the lines of inquiry. Students in Grades 4, 5 & 6 have been doing a variety of activities in these sections over the course of the week and this week’s photo essay shows them in action.