Inquiring in Individual Pursuits

This week we started a new unit of inquiry in grade 5.

Our central idea is quite simple but really easy for students to understand.

“We use our bodies to run, jump, and throw further.”

I decided to make the unit as student centered and relevant as possible for the learners.

Before I met with students, I sent them an email with the overview of the unit and how it was going to be outlined every week.

The first week, learners will be able to try out different events on their own, with a partner, or with a small group. They could choose to spend as much time as they wanted on a single event and try only one, or several ones in the same session.

Below you can see a table of the different events learners could choose from: 

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 8.51.28 PM

After the warm up I sent learners off to explore and inquire on what skills they wanted to improve.

It was really interesting as well as hard for me just to observe what they were doing and how they were using their time. Since I teach three different grade 5 classes, I repeated the same lesson and observed quite similar behaviors amongst learners.

Some students were very enthusiastic and eager to get better. They were quite competitive as well, in a healthy way. They created a game and started throwing foam rockets far, further, and further, learning from each other and getting in a total level of engagement. It was wonderful to see that happening, those students had ownership of their learning.

On another hand, some learners were spending their time chatting, throwing a foam rocket or a rubber chicken here and there, quite bored and without any sort of motivation.

There were students who chose to do long jump and again were measuring their marks and trying to beat each other or themselves. Some other learners choose to go over the small hurdles as fast as they could, and practice some sprints.

Since we live in Cambodia, the weather is quite hot all year round and now is the best time to be outside, although it can be a little hot too. Learners do quite some water breaks and again, as I was observing them, I noticed students going to have a drink and spending more than 5 minutes there.

At the end of the lesson I shared my thoughts with them and told them:

“ Today I decided not to teach you anything in the same direct way I many times do. Instead I let you explore and just wander around asking you questions of how could you throw or jump further to get you thinking and acting. Some of you created your own games, challenged yourselves and had fun. Some of you chose to be lazy and pretended to do something when I looked at you.

Hopefully you are starting to learn that you own your learning, is not what I ask you to do, is what you want to achieve that will make you get better by failing, trying again and not giving up.”

I am looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully seeing learners engaging each other and trying new events out.

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