Inquiry Explorations

I’m beginning a new project with a grade 7 colleague at work.  He and I are working together closely for the first time on a whole unit.  I’m excited about our project because he is a very organized and strategic teacher.  We are tying together a number of ideas in the plans for this inquiry unit.  The content is pulled from the Sask. Curriculum for Health which will be integrated with the English Language Arts communication, creation and reflection goals.  Already in his plans was the intention to be involved in tele-media, a system-based opportunity for students to learn about television and film making in a television studio environment.  Using the tele-media program has allowed us to work from an area of strength and comfort for the teacher.  He has participated and enjoyed using the tele-media studio in the past.  We are taking the plans for the tele-media program and allowing the students to produce videos on areas of interest from within the Health Curriculum.  I’m looking forward to documenting our project here on my blog.  We begin right after break with some brainstorming and wondering.

On the first day of our inquiry, we started with an Opinionnaire to get students thinking about the different components for human health. The students thought through each of the statements on their own and made a choice as to whether they agreed or disagreed with the statements.  They got into small groups and debated the ones about which there was the most controversy.   After the small group sessions, the whole group gathered to report back on their experience.  opinionnaire

Letting these ideas burble in the background, we gathered as a class to brainstorm all the ways that good health is best created.  We collected their ideas onto a virtual cork-board.  Once all the ideas were collected, the students grouped the ideas into categories – they came up with four categories – Nutrition, Exercise, Prevention and Mental Health issues.  Each student had to move their own ideas to the appropriate part of the cork-board.


We were delighted when the ideas the student came up with fit fairly well with the four themes from the curriculum which are a part of grade seven Health – Nutrition, Infectious Diseases, Injury Prevention and First Aid and Relationships.  On the second day of our inquiry, we discussed the end goals and product with the group and guided the discussion about fit between their categories and the main themes in the curriculum.  The students were asked to select an area or two which was of most interest to them for further study.  The classroom teacher took these requests and assigned students to a group of six for the duration of the inquiry.  The group size was determined by the needs of the group when they go to produce their television spots for the final product.  The students during this second session looked at developing questions on their topic area using a Q-wheel.  This wheel has key question words  (who, what, when, where, why) and a variety of verbs (can, do would, should) which cycle through to help stimulate good question development.  After brainstorming as many questions as they could, the students categorized the questions as ‘open’ or ‘closed’.  Working with the questions helped the students to decide which questions would further their inquiry and which were less useful.

On the third day, students took a break from the direct work on their inquiry to be introduced to RADCAB.  RADCAB is an acronym which helps students to remember important concepts in their search for quality information.  R=Relevancy, A=Appropriateness, D=Detail, C=Currency, A=Authority and B=Bias.  We used a jigsaw format to introduce the terms to the group.  Or at least we intended to use a jigsaw.  There were a number of students away from the class for a variety of reasons and we didn’t have enough of the students in each group to get all of the ideas back to the home groups from the inquiry.  So we improvised.  The students went into expert groups and we made sure each of the groups had at least 3 or 4 students and then we reported back to the whole group rather than to the home groups on our fourth day.

The following picture shows the class summary which was teacher guided. I was really impressed with the work the students did on this and how quickly it came together.


The students were then introduced to a pathfinder google document for starting their research.  They were reminded to think about RADCAB as they were doing their searching.  It was amazing how often they were able to refer to the ideas to help them search more effectively.  We could just say, “Is that relevant?” or “Can you understand it?” and they knew whether the information was a good fit for them. Follow this link to view the Pathfinder Generic  document.

The googledoc pathfinder work went smoothly and the students seemed to be able to collectively find the information they were looking for.  At first when I made the docs, we couldn’t edit them.  I knew I’d shared them so I had to do some quick problem solving to get the docs ready for everyone.  I learned that the word docs need to be converted to googledocs in order for them to be ‘editable’ but also that I needed to check what I had given permissions for in the ‘share’ box.  I opened them up to ‘anyone who has the link can edit’ and then we were good to go.  We used the class libguide page to share the document links.  Both the teacher and I were very pleased with how easy it was for the students and for us to have the information collected in the libguide page for sharing.  With my creating of the documents and sharing the links on the libguide, we could avoid having the students need to sign up for accounts and needing to email links to students to share.  It was very easy.


Once the students had assembled their resources, they worked collaboratively to collect the ideas into a second googledoc.  Here is a sample of their work:  NutritionInformation.

Once the students had their information gathered, we moved into the planning phase for the production of their public service announcements.  Because the collaborating teacher has worked in the tele-media studio for many years, he took over the teaching and writing instruction.  We kept the initial stages paper and pencil-based using the structures which the teacher had from previous years.  He had  a terrific collection of short videos on how advertisements are structured and teaching camera angles to share with the students.

The students started to write their story boards and scripts for the public service announcements.  After some initial planning and drafting, the students collaborated to create a rubric for assessment for their public service announcements.  Media production rubric student teacher  With this assessment piece in place, the students continued their writing work.  They created two pieces of writing for the tele-media production day.  The public service announcement which was to contain the bulk of their research and a fun piece which was an interview format.  When the students were doing their writing the teacher and I provided feedback on their scripts and plans to help move things along in a positive direction.  The students were aware of the need for good planning to support their work in the studio.

Here are some samples of their work:

IMGA0060 IMGA0061 IMGA0062 IMGA0063

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