In Pursuit of Inquiry

Innovation Tech ProjectsStudents at Innovation Tech are in the midst of a project where they are identifying the geographical and geological factors that influence the evolution of various species. The kids are answering this challenge with a research-based script and models of an evolved species that they will then film for a scientific documentary intended to inform the public about the possible effects of climate change.

During a recent coaching session, their facilitators dialogued around how they might deepen reflection during the critique and revision portions of this project. Rather than using their Innovation Tech Paperworktypical Critical Friends Protocol, they began this feedback opportunity by giving kids a moment to refer to and clarify the Written Communication Rubric. The facilitators encouraged the students to determine which specific criteria around communication they would like feedback on. Taking that moment strengthened the students’ connection to the formative assessment tool. When learners focus on specific areas of improvement, it is easier for them to reflect on where they are as it relates to where they want to be.

Innovation Tech StudentsNext, the students took turns sharing their portion of the script while the teacher framed feedback around the chosen criteria. After sharing the feedback and giving the students a moment to reflect on the “likes and wonders”, she asked them to voice their next steps in the process. When answers were vague, she pushed by asking probing questions to support thinking. This type of questioning served to encourage thoughtfulness and inform possible revisions to the work. The kids seemed focused as they left the room, ready to continue working on the project.

Innovation Tech ProjectsWhen I meet with these teachers to reflect on this latest Critical Friends process, I’m thinking we might develop a bank of questions that serve to deepen student inquiry. Sometimes we stop to soon when questioning, but if we had a list of questions intended to move thinking to a deeper level, students might get used to the moves of reflection.

When teachers and students take critique and revision to a high level, there exists so many opportunities to expand thinking! Next time you have kids pause to check in with their progress, remember to take a moment to help them see where they are and understand where they have to go. Asking a variety of questions is one way proven to work!

Randi Downs
rdowns@ocmboces.org
Teacher Trainer and Instructional Coach

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