Friday, February 22, 2013

Inquiry Strategies

Interactive Notebooks/Flip Books

Interactive notebooks/flip books help students build on background knowledge and increase comprehension of the lesson being studied. This strategy is wonderful because it can be used in any subject matter. Students get involved and are able to be engaged in their learning. It is a way for students to express their own ideas and process information given in class. It can be used as a means of note-taking and can help students to become independent thinkers. I use interactive notebooks to teach science. We are learning through out notebooks everyday and these pages include many types of flip books and foldables that help students interact through their learning. 

In one inquiry lesson this year, we experimented with single-celled organisms. Students used their interactive notebooks to record a table of occurrences with yeast and water and yeast, water and sugar and the result from this mixture. Students also drew pictures of the process to remind them of our experiment. 

(99 Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Learners with The SIOP Model, page 55.)
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Split Page Note Taking/2 Column-Notes/Double Journal Entry

Either before the lesson begins, students will divide a piece of paper in half. On the left side of the paper, the teacher may direct them to several questions to write down about the topic or students can be left to think of their own questions. As the class reads or discovers, students will fill in the right side of the paper answering the questions and filling in notes. This strategy can be used as a foundation for summary writing and reviewing or studying material.

(99 Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Learners with The SIOP Model, page 88.)
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Ticket Out the Door-With a Twist

This is an easy strategy to assess student knowledge as students leave the class. It can be used as a formative assessment or as a closure activity. It is a quick check or dip check to monitor student progress and understanding of the material being taught. Ticket Out the Door also may help to address misconceptions that the students have as well as items that teachers should reteach. It should address the essential question of your lesson or should target your objectives for the day. 

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With a Twist-

  • If you were to fill a grocery cart with key concepts from today's lesson, what would it contain?
  • If this were a pizza, what would the toppings be?
  • Write a news headline based on what you learned today.
  • What new learning will you walk away with today?
  • Write a recipe for _____________________.
  • Write a text message summary of what you learned today.
  • If this concept were turned into a menu, what would be the appetizer? Main dish? Dessert?
  • Write a postcard to a friend or family member explaining what you did in class today. 

Gallery Walk

"Gallery Walk promotes reflection, interaction among class members, and written and oral language development" (99 Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Learners with The SIOP Model, page 115). Students are assigned to small groups and asked to work in a group to create a chart or a poster about the learning content. A questions or topic may be posed and written at the top of the poster. The group has 3-4 minutes to write down ideas or responses on the poster. Students then rotate to the next chart, read the other groups' contributions and responses and then add additional information to the poster. This process is repeated until all groups see all other posters and responses. When they arrive at their original chart, they are able to read what the others have written, and summarize orally all the responses for the class members. Teachers may choose to lead a whole class discussion on a particular topic. 

(99 Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Learners with The SIOP Model, page 115)
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3-2-1 is a strategy that can be used several ways throughout a lesson. It can be used as a summative at the end of the lesson to explain "3 things you discovered, 2 interesting things and 1 question you still have." ( It could also be used while reading to take notes and assist in processing information. "3 facts I learned while reading, 2 questions I have for the author, 1 thing I thought was most interesting."

( Either way you decide to use this strategy, it will assist in helping students process and understand information throughout a lesson. 

Multiple Representations

Multiple representations allows students to critically think, show and demonstrate their thinking strategies in ways that they understand. "One approach to deepening students' understanding and ensuring they have a rich mathematical foundation on which to move forward is to encourage students to work on problems from different vantages and/or use different mathematical models to solve the problem. The power of working with multiple models for students is that each model highlights a different aspect of mathematics, thus building a richer knowledge base" (Mathematical Thinking for Instruction Workbook 2011, page 9). Throughout this strategy, the teacher can pose a problem such as a word problem. Students are given the opportunity to solve in their own way; perhaps by drawing a picture/model, writing an explanation, or using the algorithm. As students are solving at their seats, the teacher may walk around the room and ask particular students to post their work on the whiteboard. By the time the teacher has completed walking around, many examples and ways of thinking will be posted on the whiteboard. 

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"Bruner's three models of representation-enactment, iconic and symbolic are a helpful framework to help promote learning progressions" (Mathematical Thinking for Instruction Workbook 2011, page 9). As a teacher processes through the multiple representations on the board, the teacher should strategically choose to begin with the problems that enactive. Enactive begins with tangible or experiential. With all sharing of representations, students should be allowed time to explain their model, picture, explanation, or algorithm. Next, the teacher should strategically choose representations that show iconic or direct representations of "reality." Finally, the teacher would discuss symbolic or problems that show formal signs and problems that are abstract and higher-level thinking. This process starts with the baby steps and builds students to a higher level of understanding and cognition. 

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Chunk and Chew

"Chunk and Chew ensures that students are not inundated with input from the teacher without being given appropriate time to process information" (99 Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Learners with The SIOP Model, page 164). The teacher delivers the lesson in small "chunks" and gives students ample time to "chew the information either individually, with partners or in small groups. 

"For every 10 minutes of teacher input, students should be given 2 minutes to process the information. (This is known as 10 and 2)"

(99 Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Learners with The SIOP Model, page 164)

Let's LET them talk! What a concept!?!

Canned Questions

"Write (on strips of paper) a variety of questions related to the particular topic being studied. The questions should range from lower to higher levels of thinking. Ask students to demonstrate. Place the question strips in can. Group students as partners or in small groups. The teacher draws out the questions, one by one, and students work together to answer them. Occasionally the teacher may pull a question based on its difficulty, select individual students to answer. When this is done, all students gain exposure to questions of varied cognitive levels, even though they are only responsible for answering the questions that are appropriate for their level of English proficiency" (99 Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Learners with The SIOP Model, page 77). 

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Discovery Stations/Rotation Stations

There are many benefits for discovery stations/rotations stations. This type of learning allows students to get their hands dirty, continue in conversation with peers, critically think and discovery through active and engaged learning. Students can make connections to the things they are discovering and internalize the material easier when they are learning it for themselves through active engagement. This activity requires much work by the teacher prior to the lesson, but is extremely beneficial for the student learning process. Students may be on a learning journey through the stations or may complete a type of quest with E-learning (Webquest). However the teacher decides to set up this strategy, students will most certainly enjoy their adventure of discovery!

Busy Hands, Busy Brains    "As students put projects together, create crafts, or use familiar materials in new ways, they're constructing meaning. "Kids learn through all their senses," says Ben Mardell, PhD, a researcher with Project Zero at Harvard University, "and they like to touch and manipulate things."  But more than simply moving materials around, hands-on activities activate kids' brains. According to Cindy Middendorf, educational consultant and author of The Scholastic Differentiated Instruction Plan Book (Scholastic, 2009), between the ages of four and seven, the right side of the brain is developing and learning comes easily through visual and spatial activities. The left hemisphere of the brain—the side that's involved in more analytical and language skills—develops later, around ages 10 and 11.    When you combine activities that require movement, talking, and listening, it activates multiple areas of the brain. "The more parts of your brain you use, the more likely you are to retain information," says Judy Dodge, author of 25 Quick Formative Assessments for a Differentiated Classroom (Scholastic, 2009). "If you're only listening, you're only activating one part of the brain," she says, "but if you're drawing and explaining to a peer, then you're making connections in the brain." 
By Samantha Cleaver (

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