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Model of Enquiry Learning Unit. 1. The challenge: What could be the topic of the enquiry? What kind of topic is worthy of investigation? What is the challenge? . Topic:. Generative Topic (Unit)

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1. The challenge: What could be the topic of the enquiry? What kind of topic is worthy of investigation? What is the challenge?


Generative Topic (Unit)

“Those topics, issues and themes, concepts ideas, and so on that provide enough depth, significance, connections, and variety of perspective to support students’ development of powerful understanding. Typically they are interesting to students and teachers, central to one or more disciplines, and accessible to students.” The teaching for understanding guide Blythe

What are the key concepts or big ideas?

“We turn now to the questions of how experts’ knowledge is organized…Their knowledge is not simply a list of facts and formulas that are relevant to the domain; instead, their knowledge is organized around core concepts or ‘big ideas’ that guide their thinking about the domain.” Bransford, et. al., How People Learn, p 24

What is the significant or essential question?

After becoming aware of a significant question, issue or problem, students may reach a state of puzzlement, curiosity and/or concern and feel challenged to enquire further. The next step is to clarify, define and redefine the particular question, issue or problem to investigate.

Source: Adapted from Gough, N. (1992) Blueprints for Greening Schools, Gould League, Melbourne, p. 90.


2. Enquiry Skills: What are the enquiry skills students have and need?

What are their current enquiry skills? What can the students do alone?

KWHL (Know? Want to know? How will I find out? What did I Learn?) - a tool used to inform teachers of the knowledge and interest level of their students at the start of a topic or unit and to help assess their learning at the completion.

Consider a sample rubric for use during a one-to-one interview with a student about his or her

Metacognition (PDF - 63Kb)

What enquiry skills will students need?

Analysing, Checking, Classifying, Cooperating, Considering options, Designing, Elaborating, Estimating, Explaining, Generalising, Hypothesising, Inferring, Interpreting, Justifying, Listening, Locating information, Making choices, Note-taking, Observing, Ordering events, Organising, Performing, Persuading, Planning, Predicting, Presenting in a range of ways, Providing feedback, Questioning, Reading, Recognising bias, Reflecting, Reporting, Responding to others’ work, Restating, Revising, Seeing patterns, Selecting information, Self-assessing, Sharing ideas, Summarising, Synthesising, Testing, Viewing, Visually representing, Working independently, Working to a timeline

From Kath Murdoch Classroom connections


Specify the skills needed according to VELS domains and dimensions appropriate to the topic.


3. Understanding Performance: What performance task must anchor the unit and focus the instructional work? What will the students do with the knowledge and skills once they have gained them? How will this be negotiated? Cf Pirozzo’s grid and Real Assessment Task. What real life action could they take? Describe what students will do to demonstrate understanding. How will understanding be assessed? Design a rubric for assessment

“Activities that require students to use knowledge in new ways or situations. In such activities students reshape, expand on, extrapolate from, apply, and build on what they already know. Performances of understanding help students to build as well as demonstrate their understanding.”

understanding performances or real assessment tasks
Understanding Performances or Real Assessment Tasks

3. Run a parent forum for sharing what you have discovered about drugs. Set up stalls for them to visit where you will show them how to make choices and take responsibility for drugs. You could do a role play or make a poster for display. You might make a fact sheet or survey parents. You could make an advertising campaign video warning of the dangers of misusing drugs to show parents.

1.Undertake an energy and resources waste audit at your school and propose ways to waste less water and paper and save more energy. How much is spent on electricity water and gas? When are lights turned on and off? When are air conditioners in use and why? How much paper could we save? Take action to change the way resources and energy are used at school.

2.Investigate your local environment. How many trees in the school? What native birds animals are found in the school? What areas are grassed and garden? How much is concrete and asphalt? Is there shade in summer? How many air conditioners? Prepare a report on the quality of your school environment and give a rating. Suggest improvements to your school environment and draw up a list of priorities.


4. Scaffolding: How will the skills be scaffolded? How will the student be assisted to conduct the investigation?Show or list resources required including web sites

  • Describe step by step what you do to support the student or students through the Learning
  • Identifying similarities and differences
  • Summarizing and note taking
  • Reinforcing effort and providing recognition
  • Homework and practice
  • Nonlinguistic representations
  • Cooperative learning
  • Setting objectives and providing feedback
  • Generating and testing hypotheses
  • Cues, questions, and advance organizers
  • (Marzano et al)
  • The successful scaffolding of instruction requires that the teacher perform a number of functions, among which are the selection, organization, and presentation of suitable tasks. These tasks must also allow for:
  • the teaching of emerging skills;
  • ongoing evaluation of the task's suitability to its purpose;
  • the generation and maintenance of the learner's interest in the task;
  • the use of modeling, questioning, and explanation to clarify the goals of the task; and
  • the presentation of approximations and appropriate approaches to the task
  • (Palincsar, 1986; Wood, Bruner, and Ross, 1976).

“what children can do with the assistance of others might be in some sense even more indicative of their mental development than what they can do alone”Vygotsky (1978)


5. Reflection and action. How well did the enquiry work? Evidence Attach photographs and / or student work where possible. What next?