I have been having conversations with members about creating FOSIL presentations for either assemblies or INSET and thought it might be good for us to share the process so that others can benefit. I know that Benedicte and Valerie have either done one or about to do one so it would be lovely to hear how this is going. If anyone else is planning one please feel free to join in and share the process.
This is thanks to you I discovered FOSIL during a training with the SLA back in May 2020.
A while later, with our Head of French Literature, we both held a workshop during a school INSET day in April:
“Knowledge starts with inquiry – how can we all become better inquirers?” to introduce the FOSIL model and help advance inquiry.
I am sharing the powerpoint presentation with this post. What was most interesting to realise is that it can be helpful to all subjects and across all levels. We were lucky to have a team of 20 participants from various Departments teaching from Primary School pupils to IB students.
We started with an introduction of the model and its stages, and worked on two activities, one on the stages of FOSIL by small groups of different disciplines and levels, the second one focusing on building a scheme of work for one unit, by department this time (Art, English literature, French literature, Geography in French, History in English, Math, Modern languages, Primaire). We notably found that the group of Primary teachers had many ideas and came up with a very detailed scheme in Theatre.
Thank you so much for sharing your well-designed INSET Day workshop. I know from personal experience how challenging it can be to design a workshop that presents new ideas while at the same time engages participants in making their own meaning. You have done that. I loved your descriptions for the phases of inquiry, because you provided real insights into the thinking of students during each phase. I recognized my students in your comment that stronger students like to skip Connect and Wonder to go directly to Express because they think they already know everything they need to complete the assignment. Actually, that insight into students’ desire to just “get it done and move on” led me directly to working with teachers on designing assignments. I wanted students to develop new understandings, so I had to be sure that the assignments themselves demanded thinking and could not possibly be a simple narrative of general knowledge or something copied directly from a source.
Because I found so much success in working with teachers to design creative and thought-provoking final products, I was struck by your statement that copy-and-paste research is “common where the focus is on the product and not the learning experience.” I definitely agree with you about the importance of the learning experience, but I also recognize the value of a well-designed (and not copyable – is that a word?) final product for motivating students to engage fully in the learning experience.
Your first activity was intriguing to me. I think everyone would benefit from seeing different perspectives on inquiry and the skills that would be prioritized for different subject areas. I once did a huge chart that compared literacy skills that would be most important in English, social studies, science, and math. For example, perspective and opinion were valuable in English and social studies, but largely replaced by accuracy and credibility in math and science. I imagine you found some interesting comparisons in your teachers’ responses.
I hope that your teachers got a good start on creating a scheme of work with at least 3 FOSIL phases. I loved the way you set this up for success. First, the teachers were collaborating with a small group from the same department to select a unit they already do. That’s brilliant. I imagine you had great buy-in because teachers were recognized for their expertise and given the chance to make their unit even better. The second piece I loved was that you asked them to add only 3 phases. That’s certainly more realistic than the way I’ve been explaining inquiry design. I usually go into a long explanation of the need to scaffold student work in some of the phases, because you can’t teach all the skills necessary for high-quality inquiry in every unit. Your approach works much better and allows teachers to follow their own instincts about how to make the learning flow.
Thank you so much for sharing your work. I learned a great deal and look forward to our continued conversation.