Thursday, February 28, 2013

The inquiry process is alive in first grade!

We have started our Nonfiction Inquiry Unit and I am beside myself!  I love, love, LOVE the way the students get so pumped about reading and learning facts!!

To start out our reading unit, we used a modification of a Chart Chums chart to look into what it means to be an investigator.  We changed  Develop Theories into Research to help with our approach to inquiry.

 After picking research topics, we used our strategy of Questioning to help us guide our research.  As the class was grouped off into their own inquiries we also did a class inquiry into space to model thinking and expectations.

We then started to Determine Importance by asking, "What's important here?"  With the help of the class, we created a list of strategies that can help us find important information. Language stems have changed my students "talk" this year.  Supporting them while they are learning the language has been so important in the transfer process to when they finally own it.

Since we are researching multiple text to find out information on a topic, I knew we needed to start comparing and contrasting and doing the REALLY big work of Synthesizing.  This was our first venture....It continued today with more language stems and note taking on two text but in a more simplistic way.
To help us with Synthesizing my team created a half sheet giving the students the language stem and a rubric of their expectation.  I can't claim this idea but I sure do think it is brilliant.  My wonderful cowork RA thought and designed our very first.  It was a wonderful moment of genius for us all....give the kids their expectations in terms of what we want to see and their corresponding score...OH MY!
Here it is for you:  Synthesizing in Nonfiction
Also check out my fellow coworker's post on Synthesizing:  Ms. McTeacher: Synthesis and a *freebie*

In writing, we also started our unit with this inquiry based chart.  Our work from reading is carrying over to writing.  We are sharing our new learning from reading in an All About writing format.  

We all were in need of a refresher course on what nonfiction authors use in their own work. After searching our text we chose these examples.

It was time to make the big decision, "What in the world do you want to research?"  and the big teacher question, "Do we have enough resources on that topic?!"  My little chickies narrowed it down to 9 choices.  They fill out their top three and I quickly sorted them into 6 groups making sure that all types of learners were in each group.

In researching, I have found that kids just want to use their schema.  So we had to have a little lesson on finding information, note taking, and using all parts of a book to research.

My kids started with question and answer sheets, then used a detailed graphic organizer and finally have complied it all together into subtopics.

Tomorrow we will begin to work on which facts they want to include in their all about book, the vocabulary that is important to their topic, and which text features will support their work.

This is just little over a week into their we have a bit to go!  Look back for more inquiry fun soon :)


  1. Thanks for sharing this information. Those were some great anchor charts with some great information on nonfiction. Thank you also for the nonfiction synthesizing document. You can really get your first graders to do amazing things. :)

  2. Very Nice Blog Post! How to be a Primary Teacher and what is it like to be a primary school teacher in the 21st century? Well, it’s possibly very different to what you remember from school and definitely one of the few jobs in the United Kingdom that allows you to make a difference, and make the world a better place, every single working day.

  3. I love having the rubric on their synthesis graphic organizer! Great idea Jen! And thanks for the link up :)
    Miss McTeacher

  4. Thanks so much for sharing a great freebie! I can't wait to use this for synthesizing with my class.

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

  5. I am totally inspired! I love how the kids are creating the posters together. I've been thinking a lot lately about how to refocus my kids learning on units of inquiry rather than just flying through content. Great blog, too! I've just started blogging and I love your setup. :)

  6. I want to thank you, too, for sharing! I'm trying to set up some inquiry circles for an 11th grade course on American Literature and I really appreciate having a starting point instead of making everything from scratch.

  7. Thank you for sharing! I'm inspired by your post. Love the way you developed the researching for your students and the poster graphic organizer to insure students using new information they learned. I have found many students want to just use what they "think" they already know about a research topic and are not adding new information from their reading. Great Job!

  8. I know the post is old, but I just stumbled across it. :) Were are currently doing something similar based on the Stella Writes Series. Could you elaborate a bit more about the question and answer sheets and how they go from subtopics to writing. Thanks so much!

  9. Love this. Need to find your next steps.