Tag Archives: project based learning

Social Studies Inquiry Day

Last week was our Social Studies Inquiry project day.  After working in our library learning commons space for 2 periods it became very clear that I needed to give the students a really big chunk of time in order to put their projects together.  So I told all the students that Wednesday would be Social Studies Inquiry Project day.  The kids were so excited I think of few of them responded with “it’s going to be like free time all day”.  I told them that I would provide all the materials they needed to put projects together but if they wanted anything special (e.g. glitter, stickers, colour pictures etc.) they would need to bring them in.  (Note: If you do not wish your classroom to look like a glitter bomb went off specify that the kids bring glitter glue not loose glitter).  Anyway when project day arrived I had the kids set straight to work.  I’m not going to lie it was madness and I was a little stressed out.  You already know about the glitter but there was paper scraps all over, plasticine mushed into the tiles, puddles of glue spilt all over, pencils, pencil crayons and erasers littered on every surface.  Pretty much chaos but organized creative chaos.  In the moment I had a hard time seeing the creative productive side.  I was caught up in the mess, the noise and the fact that every 30 seconds I was being pulled in one direction to the next, “can you print this Ms. Lewis-Young” or “My iPad isn’t working” and “I can’t find my glue stick lid” and even the good old “I don’t know what to do!”  I actually starting thinking to myself that the whole inquiry based learning was a nightmare and that I was never going to do it again.  I felt like I had failed.  We’ve spent so many hours learning how to ask good questions, seek out the big ideas, fine tune our questions, research answers and now this mass chaos?  They weren’t even taking it seriously just making a big huge disaster.  Or so I thought in the moment.  I asked them to line up at the door as we would take our projects to the room across the hall (an empty room) to store so they could dry.  Normally getting my class to line up can be like herding cats but they all lined up with the biggest smiles on their faces and projects in hands.  It was then at that moment that I really began to see what they had done.  Big beautiful posters, 3D plasticine models, sets for news reports all 100% kid thought of, created and crafted. I got a little bit teary because I was so proud of them and disappointed at myself all at the same time.  They had really come through and yes created a huge mess in the mean time but messes can always be cleaned.  The learning and experience that the students were given was worth it.  Every single student produced something.  Even students who are normally reluctant to work.  Pretty amazing!  I’m 100% bought into the Inquiry Based learning experience and will be running my Social Studies and Science programs 100% in this way.  I can’t wait to see how they share their projects now.

Sharing ideas and materials to create their posters

Sharing ideas and materials to create their posters

More collaboration going on

More collaboration going on

Finishing up their research using the iPads

Finishing up their research using the iPads

Using plasticine to create a 3D model

Using plasticine to create a 3D model

T's 3D model of a green space within an urban community

T’s 3D model of a green space within an urban community

S's has shared ideas how people can help keep their community and environment clean

S’s has shared ideas how people can help keep their community and environment clean

 

Close up of how Weather has an impact

Close up of how Weather has an impact

Back drop for A's video she is going to film on how weather affects where we live

Back drop for A’s video she is going to film on how weather affects where we live

Look at how gorgeous this poster is!

Look at how gorgeous this poster is!

Look out Ellen!  M has the jokes, confidence and skills to create a smash talk show!

Look out Ellen! M has the jokes, confidence and skills to create a smash talk show!

Advertisements

A #geniushour update

I know I start every Genius Hour blog post in this way but I cannot express how game changing this has been for my teaching practice and my students.  We are currently doing a mini unit on inferencing and they are coming up with such good questions and looking at pictures and videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMNSwFFLAsI in such critical ways for more insightful then I’ve typically seen 8 year olds be able to do.  We also started Social Studies as an inquiry based project and they handled the demands of coming up with good questions, researching and creating projects without missing a beat.  I like to think that I’m helping create a group of kids who don’t take things for face value but question, investigate and repeat.  

The best part about our genius time is that students are really aware that all this is happening.  They are just productively working on a fun idea that they came up.  Most students are just about wrapped up the information collecting and are ready to get their hands dirty and start creating.  This week their tasks are to come up with their supplies list and then start gathering.  I’m excited to enter this next stage!