Friday, May 6, 2011

Great Units of Inquiry

It feels good to be part of a group of people who are changing the way they have taught their units of inquiry for many years.

I'm currently reading a book called "Why are school buses always yellow" by John Barell which deals with teaching for inquiry.  In this book he lists characteristics of what he calls "problematic scenarios" - these are the same characteristics that make for good units of inquiry:

  • Doubt, difficulty, uncertainty, novelty and mystery - all these foster curiosity, one of the PYP attitudes, and invite exploration.
  • Complexity - many facets, elements or ways of investigating.  Complexity also leads to curiosity because we aren't sure of the outcomes. 
  • Boundarylessness - things that are open to question, problem solving and with entry points for students with different interests.
  • Fascination - to capture the students' imaginations.
  • Robust - significant concepts within the unit.
  • Transferability - these concepts have meaning within other subjects (transdisciplinary) and in life contexts.
  • "Stickiness" - the central ideas need to stick with the students for a long time.
  • Researchable - information is available from a variety of sources.
Photo Credit:  Mundane Love by Evan Leeson AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike

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