Thursday, January 2, 2014

Learning Through Curiosity - Inquiry Units

Gary Paulsen is one of those go-to writers for reluctant readers. Have a kiddo who has a hard time connecting with books? Put Hatchet into his or her hands. Let Paulsen work his magic.

My group of highest skilled readers were in need of a challenge. I had purchased a 5-book set of several of Paulsen's books on dogsledding. They came in reading levels from S-W, so I knew I could have kids with different reading skills use them. I chose Dogsong for my high group.

It didn't seem enough to have them read the novel, though.I wanted something more for them, something that would ignite their passion for the book and make them feel like they were part of the story. Enter the Inquiry Unit. Give them a reason to become curious (the learning incendiary device), let them ask questions, then let those questions drive research into deeper understanding.

I found a cool Discovery Channel video clip on the controversial dual sides of dogsledding (let the flames take hold!). This is the hook that will snare the Fab Fours into wanting to dig deeper. Wonderings come next, followed by the filling of background knowledge through introductory exploration of the topic. After another set of questions are formed following the initial back-filling  of knowledge, a topic relating to dog sledding will be chosen by each student and researched. The post-research explosion of learning will happen as they create a presentation project of their learning.


All this happens as they read the Gary Paulsen book. I don't get to just guide their reading, I get to guide their curiosity-driven learning! Whoo-hoo!

If you'd like a piece of the action, check out the unit tools I created special for this unit.

It wouldn't be much fun if I was doing this unit alone, so of course I want to share it with you! 5 lucky followers can win a free copy. You don't want to miss this one; it has teacher tools AND student tools.

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