Thursday, November 11, 2010

Trying to get the kids excited about a unit of inquiry

We are studying all about old artifacts and how archaeologists spend hours analysing and drawing conclusions about the past. It's a unit that requires a lot of planning in order to ensure that the kids make some connections to this unit and find an innate desire to learn more about the past. All they could think about at the beginning was Egypt and the mummies! I cannot emphasise enough the need for a KWL chart for this unit! It has been working really well and the kids have understood the fact that they started this unit with a certain amount of knowledge and as the research has been progressing, they have come up with new understanding...

Until i came across a students blog comment which I quote verbatim:
this unit that we are doing doesn't sound interesting.

in this unit we have only been learning about old precious things.the only artifact that is good and interesting to me is rayhan's. it made me think a lot. i think the key was used in the old times to open fort jesus and to open wine"

This made me sit up and think! Here I was planning the purrrrfect unit and
a child was not excited about old crumbling objects. An Inquiry cycle implies just that. A fluid circular movemment.And not necessarily forward. It was time to re-think and strategize. How could i make the kids "feel" like archaeologists?

I posed the questions to the kids, explaining to them that it was not possible to dig up Fort Jesus as it was a very old and precious fort,cherished dearly by Mombasa. The government would not take kindly to any kind of onslaught! :)

So we decided to excavate the area under the Baobab tree. (and I did not ask admin permission!!!)
Niranjana, a very quiet but keen student had told us she had seen bones there. that got everyone excited and a new path took it's course.

I have posted some videos which I feel reflect a great inquiry lesson.
As a learning experience ,I listened to myself asking questions. I didn't do too bad :)!!... especially as I was not conscious of myself interacting with the kids. Excuse the loud chuckling noises (of appreciations) I make when the kids discover something! I made a faus pax somewhere. Spot it if you dare! :)

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