This post wraps up a series of posts that describe a "Sharing the planet" unit of inquiry. You can view the entire thread of posts here. This unit was also the focus for injecting over a year of COETAIL course learning, which is the gist of what COETAIL course five's final project is all about.
"Expert" Explanation Texts
To communicate their research of their personally meaningful climate change inquiry projects, students created explanation texts. The texts would serve as catalysts to sharing this knowledge with their peers, giving them an authentic audience (more on that below).
After co-constructing success criteria, looking at and modelling countless exemplars, and matching the writing to the lines of inquiry for the unit, the majority of our students drafted or published their research.
In sum, the summative text pieces offered a rich demonstration of the learning and knowledge that children inquired into, offered them a choice in what they were interested in learning about, and students were given a lot of flexibility in terms of medium and style in which they were to present their work.
Here are a few examples of the texts created:
Learning from Others - Part One
COETAIL courses focus deeply about how to embed technology authentically and with purpose. In addition, several COETAIL courses concentrate heavily on the power of collaboration.
Given that our grade four context was still online, we wanted to provide children with a way to publish their work across all classrooms. We also wanted children to imbibe in the experience of learning from their peers in jigsaw style, but also provide opportunities for tons of choice in what they wanted to learn about.
Since the previous Padlet we used for purposes of curation of resources and modelling research was met with great success, my team and I concluded that, "If it is not broken, then why fix it?"! Being the more tech savvy individual on my team, I created another Padlet where each student in each class could publish their research, which they could then use to learn off each other. I showed the Padlet to the team, added them as collaborators and we demonstrated how it would work to the students.
Below is a visual of the results of our "Published Research" Padlet:
Learning from Others - Part Two
To make the jigsaw learning experience more powerful, we decided to construct a graphic organizer with some carefully crafted reflection questions to guide and document student learning.
The rules were simple - students had to choose two topics other than their own and each student's research that they learnt from had to be from a different classroom.
Below are two completed graphic organizers from this experience:
If all of the above didn't best capture the depth of knowledge that unfolded for the students, we also wanted to provide another opportunity for students to reflect on the key aspects of this unit to give it some sense of closure.
Note that no unit officially ends - in fact, we're always looking for those opportunities to make connections, show ACTION and make meaningful transfer of knowledge. Put simply, we do focus our time on other inquiries, but it's not like we close this chapter of learning and put it away under lock and key.
Since COETAIL provided opportunities to look at protocols and visual thinking routines to unleash deep learning, I suggested we use a visual thinking routine or two in our reflection questions. You can see what my team and I collaboratively decided on in the example below.
We also wanted to bring back the initial unit provocation infographic that we introduced to the students to capture their prior knowledge. It was great to come back to this and see what kind of detail the children could now provide.
Below is an excellent visual example of one student's growth as a result of this unit of inquiry:
Thank You - Dear Reader!
If you've been following this whole series of posts on this unit, I just want to take the time to thank you for your commitment.
I hope that there was something that sparked your thinking or perhaps there was one takeaway that ignited a spark to try something new or differently in your context.
Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, comments or wonderings.
Lastly, I just also want to express my thanks for the rich learning experiences that COETAIL provided. The learning that has transpired and transferred has benefitted myself, those who I teach, and likely many colleagues whom I collaborate with regularly.