I’ve told people before that when I leave an inservice, my goal is to leave with one new idea to try. Well today, I left with more than that :), and I’m planning on putting the new ideas into practice very, very soon!
This morning, as part of a Mentorship Day, I attended an inservice on Inquiry In The Classroom. I’ll admit that I had some reservations, as this was advertised as a “beginner inservice” and many of the handouts shared with me last night were ones that I’ve received already. My concerns increased when I got lost on the way to the inservice (not once, but twice), and I’ve been to the school location numerous times in the past. I thought that this was a sign … but thankfully it was just an indication of my poor directional skills! 🙂
I still went into the session though eager to learn something new, and I definitely did. As I discussed in my blog post on Friday night, I want to make a change to my literacy centre routine (AWARD Time) to integrate more of Science, Social Studies, Health, and The Arts, and the Q-Chart suggestion today got me thinking. Why not have the Q-Chart out with non-fiction texts (related to these other subject areas) and let students work on generating questions and finding out answers? Then the presenters shared a RAN Chart with us, and I thought that this file folder chart could also help develop reading comprehension skills and organization of ideas (for writing) during AWARD Time. I’m setting up the RAN Chart tonight.
The discussion on provocations today, also had me contemplating provocations for Language. Initially my plan was to have the students brainstorm reading, writing, oral language, and media literacy activities for AWARD Time that integrate the use of the content areas. How are they going to do this though? Will I get better ideas if I make some connections for them? This is when I decided to create these question prompts after school today. Before AWARD Time tomorrow, I’m going to strategically place these prompts on tables with various other materials (including books, video links, white boards, various types of paper, and even some word work games). I’m going to tell students about the change that I want to make to AWARD Time. Then I’m going to have them use these provocations to not just start the switch in types of centres, but to also start students thinking about different centre options of their own. What do you think?
And now I’ve left the best, and possibly most exciting activity, for last! Today one of the presenters shared a Social Studies Activity that a Grade 7 teacher from our Board did with his class. He created a Murder Mystery, and made it into a culminating task for the unit on New France. It’s funny how single ideas can trigger amazing memories. As I was sitting in the inservice listening to the description of this activity, all I could think about was my Grade 7 teacher. He created an incredible murder mystery in his class, where he even sketched a body outline for us and put up the caution tape. It was my best grade school learning experience ever, and even just hearing the words murder mystery today, made me feel as though I was reliving this exciting time. I have to do this for my students! How though?
All day today, I thought about this. You see, I wanted to get the students to really explore the inquiry process, to gain a better understanding of the content for Social Studies, and to apply their learning to new situations. I didn’t want to create a culminating task though. I thought about Kristi Keery-Bishop‘s blog post and my own re-examination of culminating tasks, and I believe strongly that “evaluating the process and not the product” is the way to go. So after playing and playing and playing some more, here’s a look at my Murder Mystery Activity (including some information about the clues I’m going to use).
To help build excitement, I’m going to really set the scene. I’m getting the caution tape, adding the chalk outline (I hope), and distributing the clues. I’m even going to hold a quasi-press conference where students can share their ideas and build on what others have shared. It will kind of be like a dramatic inquiry circle, and I can’t wait! 🙂 I’m hoping that this will be fun, meaningful learning, where students can apply what they learned from their research, help solve a problem, and gain a better appreciation of the First Nations people and their history. What do you think? How can you help me improve this activity?
I really hope that as you sit through inservices, you’re able to leave with at least one new idea to try. What have you learned recently at professional development sessions? How have you put these new ideas into practice? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I love it! Thought provoking, valuing inquiry, relying on process. Sooo much good stuff. My suggestion is not to tweak it yet – wait until your students get into it and adjust based on what they need. I can’t wait to hear their feedback.
Thank you so much, Kristi! I’m so happy to hear that you like this activity. I really value your opinion, and I was eager to hear what you thought about this. I’m definitely going to take your advice, see how things go, and tweak things along the way if needed. The last week of school before Winter Holidays is going to be rich with inquiry and excitement in our classroom as we delve into this murder mystery — I can’t wait! 🙂