Wednesday, January 5, 2011

ICT in the PYP - Investigate

Life is about forgetting the answers and enjoying the questions - Paulo Coelho
This post was going to be about questioning, but after thinking about it all day I decided to broaden it into investigation.  I've tried hard this year to work on the way I as a teacher question my students.  I've been trying to think of good questions as prompts and provocations for inquiry and my personal goal has been to use visible thinking routines to draw out from the students what they know about the various units of inquiry and their central ideas.  As I was reading yesterday in a comment to a blog post:

Education, from the Latin root ed-u-carĂ©, means to draw out; and the current model of education is missing the point of its own etymology... Modern schools do not 'draw out', but rather 'push in' facts and knowledge.
Since the whole purpose of ICT in the PYP is to support the units of inquiry, the language and the maths, and in some cases the specialist lessons too such as music, PE, art and drama, I am always dealing with content and concepts that are being introduced by other teachers, and I find that asking good questions is essential in order for me to truly support the students in the tuning in, finding out, sorting out and going further stages of the inquiry cycle.  When looking at the role of ICT in the PYP, we recognised that one of the 6 stands of IT is that of Investigate. 

Investigating is to carry out a purposeful inquiry or research to discover new information and create new understandings. Through investigation, learners critically evaluate a variety of sources, making connections and synthesising findings to apply knowledge to real-life contexts. 

I work closely with school librarian on this aspect of ICT and we plan how we are going to introduce the investigation and which tools we are going to use.  For example recently our Grade 3 students were investigating natural and man-made processes and how these change the Earth.  The students were introduced to Britannica Online in the library and to a Google Custom Search in the IT labs, and could use both for their final investigation.  The most important thing we were working on in the homerooms, in the library and in the IT labs was having the students come up with good open-ended questions, that they could use for their inquries.  Although at this stage the students were guided as to which sources they could use, they were introduced in both the IT and the library lessons to the use of key words for searching, and their final presentations synthesised their findings into either a Prezi or a Spicy Nodes that was then used for their oral presentation.  At this point they had moved beyond  Investigation into  other ICT in the PYP strands such as Organise, Collaborate, Create and Communicate.

Photo Credit:  Question Mark by Andreanna Moya Photography

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