Researching a History of Aggression: Answering Inquiry Questions about Afghanistan (Day 2 of 2)

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SWBAT integrate information from database sources by creating information slides that respond to the QFT questions and by presenting these slides to classmates.

Big Idea

Understanding Afghanistan through research is like digging through layers of sediment as my students uncover meaning upon meaning.


What is problem-based learning?  It means focusing the class on a collective inquiry that has real implications for learning.  The research, the novel reading, and the ancillary debates that will follow in this unit all spring from the problem-based inquiry. 
It's one thing to  have students focus on analyzing the author's analysis of a series of ideas (RI.9.10.3), in this case, about Afghanistan, but it is a largely more complicated endeavor to coordinate those observations across sources that may be conflicting (RI.9-10.7).  By weighing the different bits of evidence and interpretations given in the sources and by critically re-examining the research questions to date, the students will hopefully come to a fuller understanding of the topic, and I also hope that they will see their learning as significant. 

Researching Online with Librarian Collaboration

10 minutes

Rather than staying the library for a second day, I asked our school's librarian to come to my classroom to assist students in connecting the dots across the various sources that they were reading.  I'm exciting to see how she will interact with the students and help them create meaning across various sources and how they plan to report that out to the class in original, engaging writing (W.9-10.8).

Again, the students are working off of the original questions, but we are beginning to see them narrow the scope of the questions in timeframe (i.e. USSR period, Taliban period, or post-9.11.2001) period.  Further, we are beginning to see the students ask more challenging questions that dig deeper than we did on the initial elicitation: AfghanistanQuestions.docx  For example, students originally wanted to know, "How did the aggression start?"  And now, they are asking specifically about the nature of, for example, the Soviet invasion: "Did the existing government in Afghanistan really invite in the Soviets as was suggested by Bryzhnev?"  Or "What motivated the Taliban to make the changes that they did?"  It is this refinement of the questions that makes me hoot, holler, and high five my students because it shows that they are actively engaging in the process of learning.

In addition, in this second day of research, I am looking to see how well the students are metabolizing the information and synthesizing it onto slides that will be strong supports for a good presentation (W.9-10.7).



10 minutes

Research Progress.  I plan to gauge student progress through individual conferences, but I also want to ask for an update on their research questions, which I will document on our class poster of questions that we originally devised when we did the original QFT elicitation.  I think that this question page, on large butcher paper and visible for all, is an important classroom artifact and a collective document that our questions do matter and that it's vitally important to continue to go deeper into the material.

Large Group Process--I will ask:

1.) What questions do you feel we have begun to get a purchase on answering?

2.) How have you narrowed your question in terms of timeframe?  How have you added depth to the question? 

3.) How are you feeling about getting your research slides completed and ready to go?