School Name: Spencer Middle School
School District: SD#62 Sooke
Inquiry Team Members: Rachel Dwyre: firstname.lastname@example.org, Kyla Pelletier: email@example.com, Thom Constable: firstname.lastname@example.org, Peter Jakab: email@example.com, Sam Watkins: firstname.lastname@example.org, Stefan Vasilakopoulas: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): Social Studies
Focus Addressed: Inquiry-based learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? To increase student engagement, through the inquiry process.
Scanning: While scanning our students, we noticed a lack of interest and engagement. We also noticed they were fairly dependent on us, for information. Students have traditionally been given information, and questions to then answer. Students were having a hard time creating “wonder statements” or digging deeper for information to answer big idea questions.
Focus: We were hoping to encourage students to dig deeper for information, while given a big idea question. By following a guided inquiry approach, we were hoping they would also spark an interest in the topic area, and therefore maintain their engagement throughout the process.
Hunch: Our hunch was that students wanted the criteria for assignments, and then they were only concerned about their final product mark and assessment. Students being concerned about their grades and marks, instead of learning on a personal level, was a concern for our team members.
New Professional Learning: We used the Spiral of Inquiry ourselves to guide through our project, to also help students through their own inquiry. We used online resources, books, magazines, and other school team projects for inspiration.
Taking Action: What we did:
• Collaboratively designed and planned a student inquiry in Gr. 7 Social Studies: Ancient Civilizations:
• Student Inquiry questions: How do ancient civilizations shape our world today? How do ancient civilizations influence my life today?
We used stations, whole class videos, mini article conferences, and literature circles to guide the students through their steps of gathering information.
Checking: Being our first project together, there were things we edited along the way. We created and used a student engagement survey to check in with the students on their level of engagement.
These were the overall results we gathered from our students, regarding the inquiry process itself.
• What they liked about inquiry:
o ability to choose their own topic
o Being in the library
o Artifacts so they could see it
o The small articles – engaging articles
o Using WorldBook as a research tool
• Didn’t like:
o ‘doing the work/thinking’
o the open-endedness – what to inquiry into/topic
o Had difficulty asking their own questions
o Needed more scaffolding, and step by step learning
o Wanted to know exactly what do to (how many of this… )
o Interest in topic: broad range
Reflections/Advice: In the end, students seemed somewhat more engaged at the beginning, but some then fizzled out near the end. Overall, we found that students who are already engaged in their learning, were passionate in this project. Students who were not already generally engaged in their learning, didn’t seem to much more interested during this process.