Now that my class has read the story of The Fisherman and his Wife twice, taken notes with post its, and analyzed/ refined questions to formulate interpretive questions, we are ready for shared inquiry discussions. All the prep work is complete. Well, almost...we need to set up a classroom environment that it is conducive to shared inquiry discussion.
My classroom seating is arranged in groups of desks arranged in circular pattern. This way, everyone can face each other during the discussion. I use a seating chart to jot comments that students make during the discussion next to their names. It helps to use the same seating arrangement so that I can use the same seating chart repeatedly.
First I review the Five Guidelines with my students:
My students and I chart these guidelines together and discuss examples of each. We also discuss the rationale for each rule. For example, we discuss why we read the selection twice. One student answered that it helps us collect evidence because we are story detectives. Another student said that if we didn't read it carefully, we would not remember all the details. I was pleased with the sense of purpose my students developed for reading a selection twice.
The first step in shared inquiry is to write the Focus Question on the board. My class collaboration resulted in the following interpretive focus question:
Why is the fisherman's wife never satisfied?
I write their focus question on the board and then have them write it down in their Reading Journal as well. Having the focus question easily accessible to refer to, retains student thinking to the question and specific wording of the question during the entire discussion.
I discuss with students that the focus question is an interpretive question because there is more than one valid answer. So, when we answer the question, our answers may be different as long as it can be backed by the text in the story. Then, I ask students to answer this focus question in their Reading Journal and allow them to refer back to the text in the story as needed.
Once students have completed this task, I reread the focus statement. Then, I ask one student to answer this question.
At this point, I tell students that the interpretive question we wrote in our journal and on the board can have more than one valid answer. I encourage students to share their views as long as they can back it with incidents in the story. I also tell students that their answers may change during or after our discussion. Other students may convince them to change their minds or vice versa.
I then ask a second student for their answer to the question. I ask the student how and why they came to this conclusion by citing examples from the story.
Our discussion began as follows:
Teacher: Why is the fisherman's wife never satisfied?"
Student 1: "I think the fisherman does not make her happy. And she does not make him happy because he calls her the plague of his life."
Student 2: "Yes, I agree because it is not nice to talk about his wife behind her back and call her rude names. He is always rude to her."
Teacher: "Why does the wife ask the fisherman if he wished for something from the fish?"
Student 3: "She is bossy because she doesn't like the way the fisherman treats her. She wants a better home. So, she was annoyed with him that he didn't try to get a better home for them. That's why she asked to fisherman for bigger and better homes."
At the conclusion of this lively discussion, I ask students if their answers to the focus question changed after we talked. There were some students who changed their answers, so I asked them why. One said that they thought the fisherman's wife was mean and bossy because of the way she acted toward the fisherman. They didn't take into consideration what their classmates' discussed about her acting bossy because he was rude to her. It made them realize that there were two sides to the story.