Informational UoS: Exploring Inquiry & Learning for Real

We love this UoS there are so many possibilities. The kids love it because it can be suited to their interests and it matches the natural curiosity of childhood.   As teachers we understand how tight time is – there is never enough time in the day to do everything we want.   How about connecting science topics that would normally be taught in a superficial way to a more meaningful encounter during the reading and writing workshop?

Great idea right? It wasn’t ours – we went to Teachers College Saturday Reunion.  If you don’t know about this it is an amazing opportunity! This is  free professional development from the premier experts in our field. (click Saturday Reunion for details).  While we were there we attended a workshop by Amanda Hartman (@amandalah ) called: Five High Leverage Methods that Can Accelerate Kids’ Progress Towards Working with Independence and Autonomy.  This was was so smart.  It all begins with an impeccable mini-lesson – that works towards to bringing abstract content to real life learning.    This was the clip of the minilesson she showed us: Second Grade Informational Writing 

We are striving to bring research to practice in our classrooms, and this idea of using the minilesson to teach content and literacy across our curriculum created

Students are learning how to "talk" like engineers.

an opportunity to lean into an inquiry. Our understanding of inquiry is driven by Heidi Mills’ Learning for Real (yes we borrowed her title for our blog post).  Essentially there are  five elements of inquiry:

  1. Observe the world using tools and strategies of the discipline
  2. Pose questions and investigate
  3. Access primary & secondary sources
  4. Use the language of inquiry and disciplines
  5. Use reflections and self-evaluation to grow and change


This was our thinking:

  1. Give students choice: Weather, Land forms, Moon and Earth, The Changing Earth, Animal and Plant Life Cycles, Food Chains, and Engineering.
  2. Let them do the research using multiple sources including digital texts (questioning and investigating)
  3. Link a real life occupation to the content area where students engage content area vocabulary and take on the role using tools (example zoologist to study animals)
  4. Create a handbook and video demonstration to teach others how to do this job while giving information about the content being studied
  5. After viewing their original video presentations students will reflect and evaluate their performance.  This formative data will drive future goal setting.

This work  is ongoing so we will let you know how it goes.  Stay tuned,  and more pictures to come.  If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, we would love to hear from you.  We are just like you, trying to put this research into practice.  We would love your help. 

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