The power of FOSIL lies in the simple and logical way that the stages combine to guide students through the inquiry process:
Connect: knowledge builds on knowledge, so pausing to take stock of what you already know reveals more clearly what you do not yet know
Wonder: gaps in what you know give rise to questions, some more fruitful than others
Investigate: these questions guide your investigation, which is aimed at sourcing reliable information that you can work with
Construct: this is the point of learning by finding out for yourself – building knowledge and understanding from information in response to the questions that you have
Express: once you know what you are talking about, you need to be able to share it appropriately, effectively and ethically
Reflect: Doug Engelbart said it best when he said that the better we get at getting better, the faster we will get better, and this is desperately needed in a world facing increasingly complex and urgent challenges
More fully, FOSIL is a way of enabling students to learn by finding out for themselves.
However, the fullest understanding of what FOSIL is will only emerge out of a discussion of what FOSIL makes possible, so please share your thoughts and experiences.
“A map is not the territory” (Korzybski, 1994, p. 58). FOSIL is a map of the inquiry process. Like all maps, it is an abstraction, a simplification of reality. It shows the stages inquirers go through, allowing the map reader to anticipate areas that might – to extend the metaphor a little further than perhaps it deserves – be a bit boggy or steep. However, the FOSIL framework should not be mistaken for the inquiry process itself.
As I wrote in my recent article for ACCESS (link to follow), because insight is the endpoint of a long term, iterative process, rather than the starting point, even what seems most familiar to us is laden with insight-generating potential when (re)thought through. This remains the case with FOSIL, and an invitation a year ago to write an article with Elizabeth Hutchinson for ACCESS provided such an insight-generating opportunity.
Our article – FOSIL: Inquiry as Mind Set, Skill Set, Tool Set and Community – which was first published in Volume 35, Issue 2, June 2021 of ACCESS, is shared here (download as PDF or read below) with the permission of the Editor, Lee FitzGerald.