The following interactive diagram illustrates an approach to developing inquiry units of work. To see a description of each step in the process click on the buttons.
The first stage includes the selection of a concept, big idea or issue around which the whole unit will be structured. This involves the development of a rationale and some teacher questions that will guide the inquiry.
The selection of the relevant standards or elements of the standards that are to be met need to be identified. These may be selected either before or after the concept, big idea or issue has been considered. Teachers will identify standards from a number of domains that can be met through the study.
Consider at this point some possible assessment tasks that will identify student achievement against selected standards. This allows teachers to plan ‘with the end in mind’. This is known as backward design process.
Identify prior knowledge that students have about the concept or issue. This is done by giving students a task that identifies what they already know or don’t know about the concept. These tasks could include a KWLH, a journal entry, brainstorm or quiz. This is a pivotal stage for planning and provides an opportunity for teachers to develop teaching and learning activities that best meet individual student’s learning needs.
Following the identification of prior knowledge, an immersion activity will set the scene and tune students in to what they are going to investigate. This may be in the form of a guest speaker, an excursion, a video, a book or any other stimulating experience that indicates to students what the unit will be about and provides an impetus for their questions.
At this stage of the unit design, students are asked to develop their own questions. Question matrices can be used to assist students in developing high-order questions. The questions should be recorded and placed alongside the teacher’s questions as a reference point for the inquiry. The questions will inform the development of the tasks that students will complete on their way to mastering the elements of the standards that have been selected.
Tasks are designed to take students through a series of developmental stages in building understandings about the concept or issue being investigated.
Consideration is to be given to the vocabulary or language that students will require during this unit.
Use a structure such as Anderson’s Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy to take students from low to high-order understanding.
Use specific thinking, collaborative and cooperative strategies to enhance learning.
Develop breadth of understanding using multiple intelligence theory
Develop student thinking dispositions; for example, teach students relevant Habits of Mind.
Reflection and action to be taken
Students are given an opportunity to reflect on what they have learnt and how these newly acquired skills and knowledge will make a difference in their world.