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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Inquiry Groups at Livermore Falls High School - February 3, 2010

     Bright and early Wednesday morning, I had the pleasure of visiting a classroom at Livermore Falls High School.  I was very eager to visit.  Sara F., the "regular" English teacher and Megan P., the special education teacher who have combined classes in an inquiry group format for a literature unit on the holocaust.  Sara and Megan are both members of the district's RTI committee and they are piloting options.    
   Today, they were beginning a web quest on key topics of the holocaust.  In preparation, the students had been given an overview of the unit, completed a KWL, been divided into  assigned inquiry groups, and reviewed the guidelines for reliability of information found on the net. The purpose of the web quest was to provide students with the necessary information (front load) for students to deeply comprehend the book they would be reading, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.  This was day two - of the unit and of the combined class!
  Students were then taken to the LFHS Holocaust Web Quest blog.  The blog is arranged with directions for classes on the right.
    1.  Students were asked to explore the topics, finding a web they could read reading it out loud, and taking notes.  Students were given a specific amount of time to complete this task as Sara and Megan moved around the room assisting students as needed.  This is a huge plus for this group and worked well!
   2. Students were given 5 minutes to debrief.  Students were asked to prioritize their interests in the subject.
   3. Next, students were asked questions.  Based on the correct answers, students were allowed to choose the topic they found most interesting.
   4.  Once the topic was chosen, students began their research with some "cue" questions the teachers provided.

    The collaboration - academic and social - worked well.  Megan and Sara were able to keep the pace brisk while supporting students/groups as needed.  Students were highly engaged. 
   The lesson was excellent and reminded me again of the time it takes for teachers to prepare for themselves and their students for  inquiry groups.

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1 comment:

Sarah said...

Meg and I are excited about the integrated classroom we are "piloting." In a way, calling our joined classes a "pilot" is misleading; we were combining our classes because we wanted to, because we thought our students could challenge and learn from each other, and because we sought a challenge for ourselves. Our partnership was organic, not a direct or intentioned answer to the so-called "push-in" model.

However, so far, it does have the makings of a "push-in" model, and I think the ideas we are implementing-- whether the results are positive or negative-- are ideas worth exploring and pushing beyond the established academic envelope.

Stay tuned; I will post more as the course progresses.

Take care,
Sarah