Today I’m going to try to use a Question Matrix with my gr 10 applied History classes.
I am seeking a way to help them develop their inquiry process skills. Many students have never been pushed to ask questions beyond closed ended ones and certainly most have never been explicitly taught how to create thoughtful inquiry questions.
My own skills in this endeavour are limited – I know I can formulate valid research questions, but I haven’t thought enough about HOW I do this. This requires some meta-cognition my my part. Besides, the best way to learn something is to teach it to others!
I will start with a interactive lesson about questions using Pear Deck (a new tool I picked up this weekend at the GAFE Summit Ottawa). This will stimulate some discussion about what makes a good question. This will lead us to a conversation about the Matrix.
Using a series of paintings (on loan from the Canadian War Museum Supply Line) students will develop questions about what they are seeing. Students will be required to make up a question (and then find answers) for EACH of the matrix boxes.
(Possible extensions – using 2 x 6 sided dice, the matrix becomes a trip-tic of sorts. If the student rolls “1 &1”, they design a question for “What is…” or a “3 & 4” they get “Which would…”. His/her peers then try to answer the question.)
This is a bit of an adventure. We’ll see how it goes.
A vocabulary sort provides students with a variety of terms and concepts related to a unit or for a course. You can use them at the beginning of a unit or at the end of a unit. Sometimes I do both as a way to show students what information they’ve learned.
Gr 12s doing a sort. One is even doing additional research!
Here are some strategies.
Ask Students (usually in small groups) to
Separate terms they know and the terms they don’t. Look up/research the ones with which they aren’t familiar. (then move to the following strategies)
Identify & justify at least 3 categories (student or teacher choice) and sort the words in the appropriate categories. Discuss the similarities and differences of the categories selected by each group
As the teacher, include ‘obvious’ headlines/category subjects, and students sort associated words/terms
Have the students select their “favourite” words and ask them to do a short literacy activity using each of the words in the correct context.
While students work, emphasize there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. Their properly reasoned verbal justification can make any word fit any
I have also made the terms on large sheets of paper. The students then sort the giant words on the floor in a larger group. I then post the words in their selected categories on the wall for a Word Wall.
Sometimes you have to pick and choose what your students will learn. We don’t have time to do everything. As History teachers, we have a little lee way in what we can focus on as the skill sets are not as prescribed as they would be in English or Math. Historical Inquiry can be built into any lesson on any topic.
My school board recently switched to a focus on “assessing by expectation” rather than by Achievement Chart categories. This change means it becomes a lot less complicated to plan and create tasks and tools which allow the student to show their mastery of the expectation.
The “Planning sheets” below allow teachers to list their tasks, the direct curricular links and then (for their own professional information) the achievement category. This can then provide a framework in which to develop lessons to fit the tasks and assessments. Piece of cake!
Once I have the framework for my assessments, I plan the themes of my lessons. This is a typical month for my Canadian History (applied) course. You can see I am constantly making revisions (pencil, people) and the theme is enough for me to remember what we did when a student asks.
There isn’t much in the boxes as I have a pretty clear idea of what activities will go with which themes. I’ve also been at this game long enough that sometimes I just go in and “wing it [not recommended for new teachers].”
You can also see evidence of the problem I face every year: getting to Strand E before the final culminating tasks and the exam. This year I think I’m on the track to teach about 1982-present. Maybe.
Remember to focus on one or two specific expectations rather than trying to do all of expectations associated to your overall. You are designing an activity to aid in “discovery” for your peers/’pretend grade level,” so get creative.
One of the best ways to teach students “Change and Continuity” is to have them walk the streets of their own neighbourhoods. Some may have knowledge of more recent changes, but most would have no idea of what their communities looked like 30, 50 or 100 years ago. Access your local archives and find photos, maps or other primary sources which can trigger student understanding of what has changed around their space and what has stayed the same.
I love their “Slide” feature for comparing one location over two moments in history. Students can then discuss continuity (this building is still here, the door is still glass, there are pedestrians), and make inferences about why things have changed (the post office isn’t here because it isn’t as important a service or there are no buggies with horses so the streets needed stop lights etc).
The Ottawa Citizen also created a neat interactive about the memorials and statues in downtown core.
“to create [their] own historical walking tour of Winnipeg. As we walk down Main Street, decide what buildings and location are significant. Using Evernote, jot down notes, capture audio, take photos, shoot some video. Gather us much information as possible about these places and ask yourself what sort of evidence do you need in order to prove that they are significant. As well, try to explain the evolution of this area from 6000 years ago until today.”
Can’t get out into your environment? Try these resources:
Transmediation is the process by which information is gained in one form and changed to another. I love the following activity. Students get the opportunity to work as a group (and they get loud!), work with their strengths (readers, illustrators, humour, oral presenters, colour-ers!) and discuss the value of information they have received.
Generally, I’ll give the students 45 minutes to do the reading, discussion, planning and illustrations. Then, each group presents their work to the rest of the class. The final products are then hung in the classroom for the duration of the unit. These provide a valuable visual reminder to the students about what they covered in previous lessons.
This is the most ideal lesson for a Friday afternoon!
Below is a student example about 16th Century Italy. It makes reference to the “New Pope;” the vibrant art scene; Italy’s production of wine, textiles and (military) arms; the absence of the plague; the exhaustion of natural resources; and of course, France’s ‘sacking’ of Rome. Effective and humourous!
Social bookmarking allows an individual (or group) to keep favourite websites in a place stored on the web/cloud. This allows for several advantages:
1) Access your favourites/bookmarks from any device, not just one computer or browser
2) ‘Tags’ (or keywords) allow you to associate your favourite sites to the way you might use them and/or identify the type of resource they are. I organize mine by the courses, units and topics.
3) They are searchable by Tag.
4) You can set some social bookmarking sites to ‘automatically Tweet’ your favourite sites, or, when signed into your Twitter account, ‘favourites’ are automatically indexed in your social bookmarking site.
5) Access or join other ‘groups’ to allow you to benefit from the knowledge of like-minded folk!
Using the search bar on the page, use general terms to search, eg. science curriculum. I tried searching using the specific title of the curriculum and no matches were found so I found the more general the search term, the better.
Some of them are no longer available in hard copy as they are out of print but I think the majority of them are there.
I look forward to my third opportunity to share best practices and historical thinking concepts with my students this year. I am especially excited to learn my teacher candidates – your new eyes and ears and creative strategies are a continued inspiration!
I was recently introduced to the joys of Poll Everywhere. It was used in a presentation by Matt Brash, a technology consultant from the Ottawa Catholic Schools as a tool to engage learners in any setting. Naturally, as I started to investigate, I got more excited about the possibilities.
Essentially, it enables the user to solicit information from a crowd without specialized tools or counting hands for “yays”/”nays.” Audience members can text their ideas to a free number or use the online platform to fill out forms online.
Once you set up your polls (and you can do this anonymously & without signing up) you can present them on a projected screen (or not!). If you’re using Powerpoint for your presentation, PollEverywhere will even provide downloadable slides of each question or “Poll.”