Inside: Want easy ways to differentiate the inquiry process for your students? Check out this FREE inquiry differentiation chart of ideas.
I couldn’t wait for my kids to arrive. I scanned the inquiry process planning guide. Yup. I was ready.
I rehearsed the perfect introduction in my head. The kids would love this project. They would remember this lesson forever. I smiled to myself as the kids streamed into the classroom.
I stood at the front of the class and delivered my intro. My voice filled with excitement. The kids couldn’t sit still. A buzz filled the classroom.
I asked if anyone had a question … I didn’t expect any… after all I’d planned every detail. They had the information they needed.
Or so I thought.
Hands shot up. Questions rang out.
“I can’t think of a question. How many sentences do I need to write?” said the kid with low writing output.
“How do you spell inquiry?” asked the child who wanted all his work to be perfect.
“Can I stay in at recess and work on it?” uttered the student who always had her work finished first.
“What does inquiry mean again?” inquired the EAL student.
“Can I get a drink?” shouted out the child who had trouble staying focused.
I put a smile on my face and answered the questions as a faint throb began behind my eyes.
I should‘ve been a lighthouse keeper. The calm. The quiet. The peaceful serenity. The no questions!
Sound like your class?
Our Classrooms Today
Nowadays, our classrooms are filled with kids that have different learning needs. You can feel overwhelmed . But … have no fear because
Differentiating inquiry CAN be easy!
Differentiation Built Into Inquiry Based Learning
Inquiry has differentiation build into the process. Students have choice. They can:
- decide on a topic based on their interests.
- bring their unique background knowledge and experiences to their projects.
- choose a question which is important to them.
- determine how they will present their information.
Easily Add More Differentiation
If needed, you can add even more differentiation to meet the individual learning needs of your students.
Possible Ways To Differentiate the Inquiry Process For Specific Students
Non-Writers (students who are unable to write anything down)
- dictate research into computer or have someone scribe for them.
- provide project choices which do not require students to write (record a video, sing a song, etc.).
Beginning Writers (students who are able to construct a sentence)
- Provide list of vocabulary with illustrations which students can reference as they write.
- Provide graphic organizers and templates to support beginning writers.
Reluctant Writers (students with low writing output)
- Use a computer, laptop, or tablet to record research.
- Create a picture in mind, describe in words, and then write down ideas.
EAL Students (students with English as a second language)
- Pre-teach vocabulary and provide background information related to inquiry topic and the inquiry process.
- Pair students with a partner.
Students Who Struggle To Stay Focused
- Encourage students to choose projects which involve movement or hands-on activities.
- Use online or web resources (images and videos) to find information.
Perfectionists (students who want to be perfect)
- Focus on finding information and answering questions and not on spelling and/or grammar until revising and editing projects at the end.
- Teach perfectionists how to take jot notes and “mess up the page” by adding additional comments, diagrams, etc.
Speed Writers (students who just want to finish)
- Focus on how to revise and edit work.
- Encourage speed writers to slow down and present their research in a neat and ordered way.
Students Who Need To Be Challenged
- Have students focus on the entire writing process (pre-writing, research, draft, revising and editing, final copy).
- Provide research in paragraph form.
These and other ideas are included on the inquiry differentiation chart.
Back to My Class
After I answered the questions from my kids, I had a better understanding of their learning needs and were prepared when they came to class the next day.
I added a little differentiation into the inquiry process. Soon the kids were hard at work on their projects.
I sat down at my desk. I looked around the room. Yup. I made the right choice. I was meant to be a teacher. A lighthouse keeper might have more peace and quiet but I wouldn’t get to see the excitement in my students’ eyes!
Life is good!
Want even more differentiation ideas? Check out the School Library Connection.
Let me know if you found the inquiry differentiation chart useful in your inquiry lessons. Share your thought in the comments below.
Until next time,
You may be interested in …
“Loved this resource! Students completed a huge PBL project and this fit perfectly into their activities!” – Vicki T.
“Looking forward to using this inquiry to help my students with questioning. Thank you!” – Amy G.
“We are nature explorers this year and this will be an excellent resource to initiate the inquiry learning and writing! Thank you.” – Nicole L.
“Perfect to help my students understand the inquiry process.” – Kristin B.