Sunday, March 5, 2017

Inspiration for Inquiry

We made an important discovery this week in 4L: inspiration often drives inquiry. 

In Unit, we began to move forward in our exploration of religion. We were led by Elena who wanted to show us a church she passes each day on her way home from school. We established before going in, that we would use this time to observe our surroundings and take notes or photos to document our noticings. 

Elena leads 4L on a church seeking adventure!

We quietly sat or wandered, observing our surroundings

God's Mercy Sanctuary Catholic Church: Dominikonų g. 12

We later discovered that this church is called Dievo Gailestingumo šventovė and is a Catholic church.

After visiting this church, we decided as a group that we'd like to visit a different kind of church. So on our walk back to school, we stopped at St.Nicholas' Orthodox church. We spent time observing once again.

St.Nicholas' Orthodox Church: Didžioji g. 12

Interesting text we grew curious about outside the church (no pictures allowed inside)

4L inquirers!

Once we returned to school, we decided we needed to document everything we had just seen, so we did an independent 'brainspill' of everything we noticed in our inquiry notebooks. After spilling all of our thoughts, we organised our notes so we could begin to make connections and look for patterns or information that stood out to us. 

Some of us created T-charts

Others organised their observations with Think, Puzzle, Explore notes

Some of us used Venn diagrams to compare what we observed

Finally, some of us began mind maps with connections

Finally, we chose one learning/discovery to share on a class mind map.

Our class mind map with our Central Idea and Lines of Inquiry

We also gave feedback about what we thought would be the next step in our inquiry. Several of us reflected that we needed more time to process what we saw yesterday and that we wanted to talk together to see what others noticed. So we began with a spiderweb share. 

Mid-spiderweb share

To begin, the students looked back through their notes, to refresh their thinking. We then began with one student who was invited to share thinking, a connection or a question. That student then rolled the ball of yarn to a classmate who needed to continue the conversation that had begun. This protocol helped us practice thoughtful and focused discussion as a whole class. As you can see below, the conversation naturally begins with an inquiry about prayer and grows to include the concept of holy books and their connection to prayer. 

See our conversation HERE

After our conversation about prayer and holy books in whole group, our friend, Basel, was inspired to bring in his prayer rug to share. This got us very curious and excited about how we might be able to explore more about this religious ritual. 

Basel shares his prayer rug to illustrate his contribution to the group discussion

The next bit of feedback we got was that in order to inquire, we needed more information about different world religions. First we brainstormed as a whole group what we thought the major world religions might be. 

Our original thinking

We decided to dig deeper to see if we were right. 

Our revised thinking

This took us to the next step in our inquiry process. We broke into groups of 3 and began to investigate one overview of each religion at a time. Together we created a routine for this research:

  • 10 minutes to read independently and document any thinking on our notetaker page
  • 3 minutes to process what we read and write down anything we'd like to share
  • 1 minute per group member to share their thinking uninterrupted (we could take notes while others shared)
  • 3 minutes for a group conversation regarding what had been shared
  • 3 minutes to write down any final connections, questions or thoughts

One side of our world religion research note taker

Elena, Yigit and Antanas read and take notes on Buddhism

Benas and Rojus generate questions about Sikhism

Veronika shares her thinking as Gerda request clarification and Nora takes notes

The other side of our world religion research note taker

The group discussions that took place using this protocol were fantastic! We enjoyed that everyone got equal time to share, to be heard, and felt we each had something important to add to our small group conversations. 

We then looked back through our notes and chose one big learning to share in whole group. Some of us reflected on what we learned about ourselves as learners in this process, while others shared their thinking. We discussed how to take facts and turn them into deeper thinking by reflecting on how our thinking might have changed or how we could connect our fact to our own background knowledge or something we had learned in our study. 

Time to share some big learning

In language arts this week, we enjoyed many new book booktalks from our classmates. We continue to try new genres and expand our repertoire of literature in 4L. 

In writing this week, we decided that it was time to branch out to other forms of writing. We began by creating a class list of types of writing we have used or know. 

We reflected that we hadn't spent enough time using our writing territories that we created at the beginning of the year. In order to get inspired, we read back through our territories, added new territories and chose one to explore. 

Some of us struggled to get inspired to write, so we began a journey to discover how writers might find inspiration. We tried out a 5 minute free-write where we silently wrote non-stop for five full minutes. There were no rules, we didn't worry about spelling or grammar, the job was simply to write whatever came to our minds. At the end of the five minutes, we compared our first sentence and our last sentence. We realised that many of us reach what we might call the 'Writing Zone' when we let go of the pressure of coming up with an idea, and simply writing whatever comes to mind. 

We then sought out inspiration through music. While a musical piece played, we wrote whatever came to mind. We produced some wonderfully amazing writing this day and such variety! We were so excited that we shared in small groups and grew more inspired by the creativity of our classmates! We then did it two more times with different moods of music. 

One of our classmates, Eva, responded to the music by simply 'splattering' words that came to mind on her page. We loved how creative and different that felt from other types of writing we usually do, so we all tried to write like Eva with some very cool results! 

These investigations naturally led us to an inquiry into different types of poetry. We have begun to discuss the three types of poetic text: lyric, epic and narrative. Right away we noticed that our word choice and voice became the focus for how we communicate our thoughts and feelings with this writing genre. We will continue to experiment with new ways to express ourselves through poetry. 

In math this week, we spent more time working with multiplication. We practiced 'multiplication wrestling' and learned a new strategy called 'lattice' multiplication. 

Many of us remembered this strategy from 3rd grade and prefer this as our go-to paper-pencil algorithm of choice. We practiced using multiplication through games, number stories and direct calculation.

Migle and Krista play Multiplication Top-It

Practice calculations with the Lattice multiplication method

Rojus and Aleksandras practice multiplication with a game

Sofija and Yelyzaveta calculate their products using different methods and teach each other their strategies

We also spent time this week reviewing reading and writing large numbers. We even did a short investigation into scientific or expanded notation. We inquired into what the superscript number next to the 10 might represent and why we thought that. 

Writing what we actually say when reading large numbers

Expanded notation - inquiring into 6.6 x 10 to the 21st power

We enjoyed a beautiful spring-like day playing in the park with our friends from 4A. We were full of renewed energy and imagination after being stuck indoors last week in the rain! 

We also spent some time this week working together to revitalise our Passion Projects. We shared different sources of inspiration with one another and watched this video:

We heard the main message loud and clear:

  • creativity takes time
  • speed is not important

We then heard from a couple of our classmates who had finished projects they'd been working on. They shared about their process and how they persevered even when things got difficult. 

Yelyzaveta shares her pillow project

Krista explains how she created an album from her traditional Latvian mid-summer celebration

We then sat in a circle and quickly shared where we each are in our passion projects. This helped us gather inspiration and encouragement from one another. Once again, our room was busily humming with independent inquiry. As we each left on Friday afternoon, we articulated our next steps. 

Finally, we spent time during our week preparing excitedly for our Student Led conferences on Saturday. Some of us spent more time reflecting and collecting evidence, while others practiced their actual conference plan with a peer. 

Eva shares her book log with Yelyzaveta to share her reading growth

Gerda and Migle practice for conferences and share feedback on how they could each improve

Krista shares her reading log with Sofia, while Benas explains to Domantas what he plans to share as evidence of reading growth

Saturday was such fun and we are so grateful to our parents for making the time to come and celebrate our learning! From math games, to book talks, to growth mind maps and QODs...we may have shared it all.  

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