Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Legacies of the Past...

Today we started the last Unit of Inquiry for the year! "Legacies of the Past" is a mainly history unit and it has itself had an interesting history!

Way back in the mists of time, and well before my time, the elementary school at JIS divided up the world among the grades.  Grade 1 got Australia, Grade 5 got China, and I can't remember the others, but by the time you'd exited elementary school you'd have been all around the globe!

When I arrived in Grade 5 four years ago, the unit was known as the "China Unit" and had a secondary title of comparing cultures or some such. There was an enormously fat file book packed full of .... photocopiable worksheets .... Trying to turn all this into a unit of inquiry was a major piece of work but now we have a unit with one enduring understanding, a concept that is global, transferable, engaging, challenging and lends itself to students' group or individual inquiry.

After lunch my students came into a room with dimmed lights and "artifacts" scattered on the tables and hanging from the ceiling. They had lined up outside, peered through the windows, noticed the glint of gold (brass) and curiosities were immediately piqued. Their task was to study the objects, talk about where thy might have come from, what they might have been used for, who used them, etc, etc.

All these treasures came from our house, a collection of items gathered from our travels, as well as boxes of spices and teas to be smelled. 

Were the children engaged? Absolutely! Were there great substantive conversations happening? Yes! Lots of questions? Loads! Was there discovery going on? Yes!

Can I wait to get into school tomorrow to continue? No! The enthusiasm of children so thoroughly excited, curious and engaged is highly addictive!

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