Saturday, August 17, 2013

i-time {inquiry + personal interest = kids in control!}

One of my favourite parts of our first week was our I-Time.
Anyone else use this?
It's something I've never used before, but after jumping in, I highly recommend it!

We teach an inquiry curriculum, meaning students are given a lot of control over their learning.
They take the reigns, so to speak, and that whole idea, I'll admit, made me uneasy.
Coming from Kuwait, where I had to implement behaviour expectations like crazy, teaching through inquiry seemed like a big loss of control on my side.
I have to say, though, that the transition has been really really great so far.
I love giving the students the responsibility and independence that inquiry calls for.
It's amazing watching them learn together.

What is I-Time?
Basically, it's a time for students to choose a topic of personal interest and research it.
My students are allowed to sign out up to four books from our library, so my one stipulation during our browse and borrow time will be that each kid find at least one non-fiction book focusing on something they want to learn more about.
Note: We have an absolutely AMAZING library space in our school! We also have five iPads in the class and I'm able to book a class set of Chromebooks.
Immediately following our library time is a single forty-minute period that I've designated for I-Time.
Each student has an I-Time notebook where they will write down their questions, ideas, new learning, diagrams, thoughts, etc. etc.
For this week, I pretty much answered "yes!" to all the "Can I..." questions the kids asked.
{Can I draw pictures to show what I learned? Can I write questions about things I want to remember to look up later? Can I write the things I learn in a list? Yes, yes, and yes.}
They grabbed a pencil and found a comfy spot around the room to read and learn about a personal interest.
Everyone was so engaged!
In the coming weeks I'll start to teach the class about framing their inquiry questions - how to broaden questions, how to write more specific questions, how to research effectively, how to go about summarizing new knowledge, and options for presenting their learning to the class.
Letting kids make choices about what they learn is a very powerful tool; I'm already looking forward to our next I-Time session on Thursday!

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