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Friday, October 30, 2009

Social Studies/Research Meet in a Guided Inquiry Unit.

Michelle B.


 Cathi H.

introduced a 9th grade social studies class to a guided inquiry unit on countries.  The lesson was very well written and taught. 

 Michelle and Cathi balanced teacher choices and student choices extremely well.  For example, Michelle chose the countries while she allowed the students to choose 10 topics from the ABC's of World Culture poster. Both teachers modeled think alouds, prioritizing, webs, etc. - a number of pertinent literacy strategies.

Next Cathi previewed types of books available to the students, modeled how to locate information on
MARVEL, choose the just right level for them, and then reviewed the boxes of books prepared on each topic.  By framing her comments around what was just right - as well as Michelle supporting her by reiterating what just right is - students were comfortable with the idea of differentiated reading materials.

Michelle then turned the last set of decisions over to the student groups.  Each group was allowed to choose a country to research - based on what number they drew.  However, every team member had to agree.  This worked well for all but one group.  Next, students were set to the task of writing contracts for group expectations - re: responsibility, behavior, conversations, etc.  Michelle collected the lists and agreed to write rubrics based on this information for students to use during the project.

This lesson was a powerful example of slowly releasing teacher responsibility and turning decisions over to students.  It is also an excellent example of teaching students the basics of information literacy - starting with how to locate and choose information accessible to themselves.  We need to remember that information literacy is a new concept - especially when combined with technology - and most students come to us with little or no background regardless of grade level.

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