Many conversations in the department, as well as the weekly meetings we had to discuss the inquiry, allowed us to gather together some really helpful feedback. From the teachers’ perspective, here is what went well:
The pupils certainly developed a number of Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills. Our roles as educators in a general sense rather than in a subject-specific sense came to the fore here. I know that the pupils used and practised skills that will be of use to them later and elsewhere across the curriculum. For example asking good research questions, managing their time, selecting relevant information, organising and delegating roles within a group, reaching a group consensus and conclusion.
The pupils experienced a sense of ownership with regard to their learning as they had the freedom to research their own questions.
They enjoyed a different kind of French lesson and had fun filming each other.
A lot of peer feedback and support went on: sharing resources, correcting each other’s scripts and helping each other’s pronunciation.
The written scripts contained information that was genuinely a product of their own research (details about costs, opening times of tourist attractions, names of good restaurants).
There were things, however, that didn’t go so well:
Perhaps Paris was the wrong choice – many pupils lacked curiosity about it as they had either been or had already heard/seen a lot about it.
Pupils asked questions that were very specific and then couldn’t find the answers in the resources provided.
The ATL skills developed could be worked on in other subjects without sacrificing the teacher-led lessons where the knowledge pupils gained could have been covered in 2 lessons.
On a linguistic level the project was most successful amongst the most able.
Weaker pupils were overwhelmed by the number and quantity of resources.
Weaker pupils found it hard to devise questions. This skill needed teaching explicitly and modelling for most pupils.
Pupils didn’t know how to pronounce new vocabulary.
Many pupils missed at least one lesson during the inquiry and if a stage was missed this caused problems for the whole group particularly as the schedule was so tight.
Many pupils ignored the sources in French and didn’t collect any new vocabulary on their investigate sheets.
Pupils had to understand the shift from the inquiry question/answer to the assessment. Both were based in the research they had done but only the former was their opinion.
Pupils didn’t spend enough time or effort making good use of the resource packs. There was perhaps too much here and many opted purely for English sources and ignored the great stuff in French.
Pupils didn’t systematically record new vocabulary on their investigate sheets.
As you can see there are positives and negatives from this FOSIL inquiry, and concerns we will have to attend to before running future inquiries.