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How does Jaclyn Share, an Instructional Coach specializing in science and social studies in Wheeling, IL support students in taking informed action? Read this month’s spotlight to find out!

Tip #1: Highlight opportunities for informed action early and often

It’s never too early in an Inquiry for students to think about taking informed action on their learning. Inquiry Journeys is built to give students experiences that they can build upon so they are ready when the time comes to take informed action.

Encourage students to think of ideas for taking informed action early and often. Here are some ideas:

  • When students make connections to content during classroom discussion at any point throughout the Inquiry, take it a step further by leading the conversation to how students see themselves taking action on the topic.
  • At the end of each module, return to the module’s Essential Question. Ask students how they would answer the question. Encourage them to think about how their ideas connect to their own lives.
  • When studying examples of real people taking action, flip the situation back to the students. Ask “What would you do if you were in their situation? How else could you make an impact?”

In most modules, the idea of taking action serves as an integral part of the content. Explicitly communicate to students that they too will be taking action at the end of the Inquiry. Use the Inquiry Wall or another portfolio method to capture student thinking, not just about each module’s content but also in relation to the informed action at the end of the Inquiry.

Capture student thinking and early ideas for taking informed action with charts and visuals that you may refer back to throughout the Inquiry.

Tip #2: Emphasize the Process

One of the biggest mindset shifts around taking informed action is that action is a process, not a product. This process is nonlinear, takes time, and may feel nebulous when you’re in the thick of it.

In Module 6, students revisit their research and findings and use their knowledge of the topic while being responsive to feedback.

To help with emphasizing the process, you can:

  • Explicitly teach about the stages of design by referencing the Design Process graphic.
  • Build time to reflect, give feedback, and plan next steps in individual, small-group, or whole-class settings.

  • Make connections to the Design Process or other learning processes across content areas like writing, experimenting in science, or creating a work of art.

At the end of the day, it is equally as important for students to know how to solve a problem as it is for them to just find a solution.

Tip #3: Students create the Inquiry Challenge Statement

When students’ voices are heard and their ideas are taken into account, they are more invested in the outcome of their work. Informed action should be led by a student-created Inquiry Challenge Statement.

Even younger students can take part in this process:

  1. First, vote on a common goal.
  2. Then, provide options for students to choose from for how they’ll take action, what product they’ll make, and who their actions will impact.
The slides (above) guided students through the process of co-creating an Inquiry Challenge Statement.

Tip #4: Use models and samples to co-create expectations

Co-defining expectations around excellent models helps students gain insight on what is truly important in their projects.

In the Action Module, students compare models of the products they will create, identifying specific elements that make these examples successful and generating ideas for Success Criteria that they can use to guide and evaluate their own work using an Inquiry Product rubric.

When making the Inquiry Product rubric, students can look at exemplary models as a guide for their work. The models provide students schema around the components they can include in the final products while setting expectations around quality.

You can integrate this analysis by collaboratively developing criteria for the Inquiry Product. Consider spending a day between creating a prototype and improving the work.

While looking at pre-existing models, try out the following lenses:

  • What is the message?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What information or details support the message?
  • How does this product interest the audience?

You can use these same questions during the “Improve” lessons to enhance the quality of the work and co-create a rubric for assessing the final product.

Student-created rubric. Qualities were brainstormed from exemplary models, and students + teacher co-defined ‘My Best Work’