Sunday, January 29, 2017

Taking Curiosity and Turning it into Inquiry

In unit this week, 4A and 4L continued to collaborate to investigate ancient civilisations. 

In 4A, the workshop focused on timelines. The students explored timelines and then shared observations and queries. They discussed BC/BCE, AD/CE and how time is counted in chronological order. Based on what they noticed about the given timelines, they created a brief timeline of their own life. 
Group discussion of timeline 'noticings'

Group discussion of how to build a timeline

From there, they then dug deeper into how to organise an historical timeline of major events from Ancient Egyptian history. They worked in class groups to achieve this task. 

Before we could begin our workshop in 4L, there was the pressing matter of mummified apple slices to attend to. We continued with the scientific method to document the results of our experiment and drew meaningful conclusions about the why and how of our results. 

Antanas and Domantas are both excited and disgusted as they uncover their apple slice!

Students observe their apple slice and document results

This is it, folks! The mummified apple slice...

In 4L, the workshop's aim was to get students thinking about what characteristics make up a civilisation. We began by comparing cave men to Ancient Egyptians through discussion prompts. We then spent some time debating the question, "If we were a group of people who wanted to form a civilisation, what would we need to be considered civilised?" From here we brainstormed a short list of criteria. 

Then we watched a short video on how a civilisation is defined and added the elements to our list that were not already present. 

This is all you need to be a civilisation!

In keeping with our scientific/mathematical thinking, we realised in order for something to be a true rule, it has to be proven in more than one situation. Therefore, each pair of students took one characteristic of civilisation and looked for evidence in a civilisation other than Ancient Egypt, that would prove civilisations did, in fact, have the same elements. In pairs, we shared our piece of evidence and explained how it helped prove our thinking. Finally, we discussed why this particular characteristic might have been a necessary element to establish a civilisation. 

Raphael, Migle and Meda skim books looking for bits of evidence that they can use to build their argument

Eva and Elena discuss how Ancient Roman coins serve as evidence of trade

Students discuss what evidence has been left behind to prove that different civilisations used farming

In Lithuanian A last week, the students had the privilege of working with Mr.Colin while Ms.Jurga was away and were prompted to come up with the BIGGEST or MOST IMPORTANT questions they had so far this unit. 
The students then spent time digging into 'strong' vs. 'weak' questions. This sparked an interesting conversation in 4L about 1) What IS a strong question? 2) When is the last time  you were truly curious?

Group discussion about the last time we got truly curious...

We spent time really digging into the value of asking good, strong questions. We compared the idea of an inquiry and a question, and discussed the different results that come from asking a simple question versus launching into a passionate inquiry. We realised again what we already figured out last week...that to truly inquire, we have to GET CURIOUS! So, we spent more time this week not only getting curious, but seeking answers.

Stretching our thinking- what IS curiosity and inquiry? 

All of the talk about being an inquirer and getting curious has continued to shape our work during Genius Hour on Passion Projects. After presenting final projects from the last cycle, several of us have gone back to the drawing board in order to make sure our free inquiry is driven by genuine curiosity strong enough to seek out answers. For this reason, we have begun to document our process more carefully to include why and with whom we have inquired along the way.

Sofija shares her song about wolves

Yigit shares his final project on creating a dance with his own dance moves

Shourya performs a bit of his mash-up song

Passion Project Documentation
Record resources you use (list ALL websites, videos, conversations, interviews, etc.)

 Resource/website              Date Why I used it


Jan. 9

I was looking for William Morris drawing techniques and I found a tutorial here that I tried

In language arts, we got curious this week about words. We realised that in order to become better spellers, we needed to inquire into words and find patterns/connections. We took several words apart and investigated each separate piece (base words, prefixes and suffixes). From here, we used what we knew of other words to determine the meaning of each piece. Finally, we put them back together with a more comprehensive understanding. 

Pulling apart words and putting them back together for meaning

We also came to the realisation that reading is an invaluable tool in our inquiry process. We determined that we either get curious and set out reading to find answers, or we begin reading, grow curious, and read to find out more! 

Benas, Yigit and Domantas seek to spark their curiosity

Krista and Veronika ask questions while Migle searches for answers

In math, we continued our work with decimals and began to explore their value and use in real-life. We sought to balance an imaginary bank account as we investigated their use in money. We also utilised them for precise measurements as we measured objects around our classroom. We branched out in our addition number talks to include decimals. We found that all of our usual strategies work just as well for the addition of decimals!  

New ways of thinking as we apply mental math addition strategies to decimals

Yigit measures the width of his cubby

Nora, Shourya, Domantas, and Benas measure objects around the room

At the park this week, we enjoyed an icy day! None of us brought sleds, so we were equipped with only our imaginations. One group of students investigated the strength of ice formations, as well as the beautiful and peculiar patterns created by the thawing and freezing of the pond. Another group built an 'Ancient Egyptian kingdom' (which resembled a teepee made of sticks) defended by fierce protectors against an attacking army. On top of those adventures, we had some zombie attacks, trench digging and 'penguin' belly sliding. As always, we look forward to what next play time will bring. 

On Friday, we enjoyed celebrating Chinese New Year together. We were delighted to partake of some delicious homemade dumplings and even got to see a dragon parading through the halls of VIS!

Lin delivered delicious dumplings to 4L in honour of Chinese New Year!

We had the pleasure of celebrating our friend Krista's birthday on Wednesday! We wish her a wonderful 11th year ahead!

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