I have enjoyed reading your planning conversation from my perch in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, because I am thinking about some of the same questions about teaching and learning through inquiry. First, I wanted to say how much I appreciated the guiding question for the whole unit – Why do people live near volcanoes? That question lifts the whole experience from fact-finding to constructing personal meaning from facts and ideas. You will engage students in understanding the people and context of the area around volcanoes and forming evidence-based opinions. That’s powerful.
I was thinking that one possible way to deepen students’ understanding of the impact of living near a volcano would be to let them choose a role in pursuing their investigations – reporter, government official, survivor/local resident. You can probably find short accounts from each of these perspectives. I would think the answer to the question about why people live near volcanoes would differ depending on the point of view and that would further personalize and deepen the students’ understanding about volcanoes.
I wish I could be there to see the students’ engagement in this interesting inquiry investigation. Thanks for sharing.