In response to teacher reflection of the learning process offered to pupils and their ability to find and interpret information on this topic the Computer Science and Library departments have again collaborated to create a new inquiry for Year 7.
Over many cycles of this inquiry the teachers of the Computer Science department have noted an over-reliance upon web-based sources for this task during the investigation phase. Indeed the teachers themselves have struggled to find viable books or subscription database articles which are accessible to students of this age. Even the vast quantity of information on the web tended toward the higher reading abilities. We strongly desired to change this by having an inquiry question which could be answered by collating information from a good mixture of sources.
In the creation of a new inquiry task we started by first examining the scheme of work and what we wanted students to learn. With that clearly in our minds we gathered as many books and articles that we could find for as many reading ages as possible. With photocopies of the relevant sections from these sources strewn across a meeting table we gradually curated a good resource pack which contained enough factual information at a variety of reading ages to give students a good starting position. I note that the aim here was to increase accessibility and the variety of sources used, but that we were also very careful to leave enough scope for students’ own original investigation.
With a carefully curated resource pack now in hand we began to work on the phrasing of the inquiry question. We started with ‘Is my washing machine a computer?’. Our aim behind this question was for students to have something familiar to connect with that would lead them to examine the computer hardware components that made up the computer definition. However, I was not particularly happy with this as it lacked excitement and scope for further investigation. My colleagues at the library helped me to rephrase the question to ‘Are there hidden computers in my home?’. Here we opened up the scope of investigation, but lost the familiar thing – the washing machine – to connect with. In order to retain that we instead included the washing machine as a directed example in the connect and wonder phases of the cycle, an example of how the teacher remains in control of the learning during an inquiry project.
You can find the project journal created for this inquiry here.