I show students a Promethena Shared Inquiry Flipchart I created that explains the process of Shared Inquiry discussions. The flip chart begins with the procedure for reading or listening to a story twice before the discussion. Students read the story each time and use post its to mark areas of interest. The areas of interest marked by the post its, are converted to questions by the second reading. The type of questions student ask for Shared Inquiry discussion is identified as Interpretive Questions. The flip chart walks us through the process of identifying interpretive questions. Then, students brainstorm several questions that arose from their readings. One question is selected to guide the discussion.
I use a KWL chart in every lesson to establish a starting point for my lesson. This lesson focuses on the shared inquiry portion whereas the previous day's KWL focuses on creating interpretive questions. It also can serve as a review of previous lessons as students list what they already know about shared inquiry. Students have different entry points depending on their prior experiences and ability to retain information from past lessons. The KWL chart allows me to differentiate my instruction and focus on information on the W section of the KWL: What students want to learn about the topic
Since this is the second part of this lesson, students already read the story twice and are now ready to select the driving question for our Shared Inquiry discussion. After the flip chart presentation, I placed the post-it sticky notes of Interpretive Questions from The Happy Lion that students created. I chose one from each student and then we collaboratively decided on one question for our Shared Inquiry Discussion.
Students sit in a circle formation with their story of "The Happy Lion" accessible. The discussion begins with a question. We selected the question: "Why are the people afraid of the lion when he is loose?" Students are reminded that there is no one right or wrong answer. The point of this discussion is to generate ideas that will improve understanding of the story. Shared inquiry is in keeping with my approach to teaching to the Common Core theory through developing critical thinking skills by helping students analyze text and requiring students to infer, evaluate, and revise ideas.
My role during the discussion is to facilitate by pacing the discussion and stopping at various points to ask students if they have gained insights from other students or if students gained perspectives that they would not have come up with on their own. Grappling with multiple perspectives in response to the interpretive questions, students gain alternate introspective views. By the end of this inquiry, students may change their opinion as they gain more insightful knowledge from their peers.
After our Shared Inquiry Discussion, we discuss any new revelations students acquired during this process. I remind them that by being respectful and open minded about other students' perspectives of the same story, we gain better insight. One student mentioned that he never thought that zoo animals are untrained whereas circus animals are trained. Perhaps that gave new insight to the situation that people who visit zoos do not expect animals to behave unless they are behind bars in their cages. Another students said that he learned not just different perspectives of others in the discussion, but also that different characters have different perspectives as well This elaborated into a discussion about what each character's point of view was. For example, the lion just wanted to take a stroll and was confused by the reaction of the people he encountered. The people think of the lion as a wild animal and seeing someone faint caused even more alarm. They might think that the lion harmed the person on the ground and not realize he fainted. Students came up with various scenarios and creative ideas. Common Core is not just about comprehending text, but also critiquing ideas. Students are developing independence as readers, writers, speakers, listeners, and thinkers.
Students complete a self assessment Shared Inquiry rubric (see source) at the end of this activity.