Enquiring Minds: Refining and Eliciting (again!)

the second stage is concerned with shaping, defining and focusing an idea or question or subject and making plans to research it further(1)

So says the enquiring minds guide, and provides me with a list of helpful questions to ask my students

  • What can you find out quickly?
  • What is left unanswered?
  • What direction do you want to go?
  • What aspects are most interesting?
  • What are the key areas to focus on?
  • Are there different perspectives?
  • Who might be able to help you or who might think differently about this?

I’m going to blend this into the eliciting stage, as I think they’ve only just really got going with this.  I’m going to take an approach that asks students to look at the kind of evidence that they’ve got for their questions, they’ll reply that they’ve got lots of pictures (because this is what I provided!).  I’m going to ask them where else they could look for information.  They’re going to say ‘books’ or the internet, which will lead nicely to another trip to the library, armed with paper, folders, pens etc.

I’m going to make this trip much more purposeful.  I want them to focus on text that might help them to answer their question, and I want them to think about their question, the provenance of their information, and how to move their enquiry forward.  I’m therefore going to do the attached diamond nine exercise as a starter.

Wish me luck!

Evaluation: The first part of this lesson went really well, and, for most students the second went well too.  In the first part they were able to use the diamond nines to discuss what they should be doing next in their work, and a really interesting discussion came from the positioning of the different cards.  Most students put ‘the right sources’ or ‘answering the questions we’ve asked’ near the top.  They were able to justify this position by explaining that this was the whole point of the study – to find answers to questions that they’d asked. 

They were also able to discuss the types of sources that they wanted to use, and predictably the ‘eye witness’ came up trumps.  I wonder if we can return to this later.

The second part of the lesson was not so great, mainly because there are three students whose attendance mean that they’ve not been able to follow the whole spread of lessons (in two cases they only came to one out of four lessons).  They don’t really understand what’s expected of them, they’re at sea thinking about their own questions.  I find I’m so busy firefighting queries about books, keeping order when students aren’t sitting in rows, and talking about interesting questions that it’s hard to help these three who did not attend earlier lessons.  I’m going to have to work on something to try to scaffold their thinking whilst others get on with their enquries. 

The guide refers to this – it says that some will go ahead faster than others in the class, but this feels like they’re being left behind…

(1) http://www.enquiringminds.org.uk/guide/the_enquiry_cycle/defining_and_responding/




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