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The Water Cycle in a Chicken Box?


Inquiry is a critical component of the PYP (Primary Years Programme) and the teachers at Saint Luke School are changing their pedagogy to support inquiry based learning during, but also outside, the planned PYP units.

The students in Mrs. Sheehan and Mrs. Smiths' classes are studying weather. Weather conditions during particular seasons, weather around the world, and design solutions that could reduce the impacts of weather related hazards.

During this unit, Mrs. Sheehan and Mrs. Smith have always given their students directions on how to build the water cycle inside a rotisserie chicken container. This year, after thinking of this lesson through the lens in INQUIRY, they changed the lesson and after teaching about the water cycle (and having their students RESEARCH) they turned the learning over to their students and simply asked them to re-teach the class what they understood about the water cycle. The teachers wanted to assess if the students UNDERSTOOD THE WATER CYCLE, not if they could follow directions (on how to build it in the chicken box).

The result was inspiring. The students were engaged, excited, and came up with many different ways to show their learning. The students presented visual models, rap songs, beautiful images drawn with different mediums, Google slide presentations, posters, tri-folds, etc.

The energy in the room was so different then if all the students were asked to complete the same project. They had ownership, were answering their own questions, SUMMARIZING their understanding and SHOWING the class how they understood the water cycle.

This was just a short in-class activity but it felt very different then in years past. Thank you 3rd and 4th grade team for making learning come to life! For more reading on inquiry based learning, take a look at Edutopia's article, 'What the Heck is Inquiry-Based Learning?'

More to come as these same students get to build different shaped structures based on their learning of what shapes can withstand (better) the power of wind. Students will build, revise, and critique their structures. Changing the way teachers facilitate learning makes all the difference and changing to inquiry based teaching/learning quickly moves students from simple RECALL to PREDICTING, CONSTRUCTING, and PROVING which all require a deeper level of knowledge.


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