Personal Inquiries in Grade 2

One of my big goals for this year is to facilitate personal and independent inquiries for my Grade 2’s.  I have been thinking about this for nearly 2 years now.  This year, I dove in.

I have many questions about the best way to approach this with young learners.  I have read so much about Genius Hour and 20% Time- most of it geared towards older children (aged 9 and up).  I have no doubt in the ability of Grade 2’s to be curious and inquire and follow their interests.  My questions are around an approach that is developmentally in line and most meaningful.

And, as we know, the best way to learn is to dive in and find out.

Below is where I am at so far…

My Goals:

  • students will ask questions connected to their interests
  • students will use their questions, and those of their peers, to discover more about their interests
  • students will initiate personal inquiries
  • students will use research skills, collaboration, and creative thinking to find out
  • students will choose the formats and processes of their inquiries
  • students will carry some of their inquiries into meaningful actions
  • I will act as a facilitator, guide and teacher of necessary skills along the way

Naming It:

By the first day with the students, I still didn’t know what to call this time and work but also, I didn’t feel too hung up on the name.  I imagine once the students are more engaged in the work we can name it together.  For practical purposes, I introduced it as Wonder Hour.

Diving In:

I know young learners need time and space to discover and refine their interests and curiosities.  Little good will come from sitting down a class of new Grade 2’s and saying, “What are you interested in?  What would you like to inquire into? Ok, let’s begin!”  It’s too much.

With many of the very wise words regarding inquiry from Stephanie Harvey and Kath Murdoch planted in my mind and the knowledge that inquiry stands on curiosity, I decided to begin with weeks of viewing and interacting with really interesting things.  My thinking was that we would spend time in the beginning just focusing on questioning.  I want the kids to feel solid in their questions before beginning inquiries.

So, about 3 or 4 times each week during the last 30minutes of the day I have shown interesting videos from The Kids Should See This, or brought in unusual photos or objects to look at and touch.  We spent time interacting with this media and the kids asked questions. I made a Wonder Hour Board in our room and we collected all good questions there.

I thought this phase would last about 2 weeks.  However, we just finished Week 4 of our school year and I am just now thinking we will move into the more focused phase of asking questions to research and find out.  While 4 weeks was longer than I had expected to do this early thinking, it turned out to be a great amount of time.  I didn’t rush the phase, the students stayed quite engaged in the thinking, and their questions have been improving as we go.

Next steps:

I have just begun facilitating their move into inquiry and finding out.

  • focus students questions on some “big ideas” – space, land, places, people, other living things, art, design, etc.
  • use See, Connect, Wonder
  • students choose a question they really care about and dive in! 

What has worked well for you?  What am I missing?  

I’d love to hear your ideas.

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Our “Wonder Wall” with the new See, Wonder, Connect posters.

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