This past week in our Inquiry class, teacher candidates participated in a mini inquiry designed to integrate disciplines and active many of the core competencies in BC’s redesigned curriculum. For many, it was an engaging and useful activity, as it modeled how we might not always open an inquiry with the actual inquiry question! I think it’s important that teachers understand that we don’t expect students to jump in unarmed with skills and tools to help them be successful. Below is a general outline of our process.
Learning Intention: I can make detailed observations about my local environment.
- Sharing photos of plants and making observations as a group
- Nature walk where students took photos of plants they observed in our surroundings
- Sharing out observations in small groups
What do you notice about this plant? How would you describe its physical characteristics?
Learning Intention: I can use creative thinking to transform a physical characteristic into a personality trait.
- Teacher modeling of a short story “Chloe the Cactus”
- Writing a brief story about one of your chosen plants and what its physical characteristics might look like if it were a person
Once we had developed some of the key skills required to engage in the final experience, we introduced the inquiry question.
What plant best represents you?
Learning Intention: I can make a meaningful connection between a plant and my personal identity.
- Artistic representation is 2D or 3D and includes at least 2 different media.
- Connection is about the real, inside you – your essence (i.e. not your physical appearance).
- Description includes at least 3 thoughtful reasons why your plant represents you.
During this final stage of the process, teacher candidates engaged in their own online research to help select their plant. In a classroom setting, we discussed how we would need to provide more scaffolding at this point. It would be a great opportunity to teach digital literacy and credibility of sources through a model such as Get REAL. Some questions that helped guide our research were:
Where does your plant thrive? What else grows nearby?
What does your plant need to survive?
What are its physical characteristics?
What are some unique features of your plant that make it different from others?
This process was really beautiful to watch, as many of my teacher candidates used this as an opportunity to really reflect on their true selves. It is a good reminder that inquiry doesn’t have to be something overly complicated, but it can certainly be beautiful! Below are a few examples of the work that came out of this mini, teacher-guided inquiry. I hope they and the process inspire others to see how we might approach developing Core Competencies in a meaningful, inquiry-based way.
Credit given to Yvonne Dawydiak for the original inquiry question and art activity: What plant best represents you?