Going back as far as September 2018, I have had ongoing discussions with the Teacher of History in charge of Year 7, who is also a Lead Practitioner in school, about how to incorporate a FOSIL inquiry into the final term of Year 7 MYP teaching this year. As the department’s plans for teaching their first year of MYP formed, so the subject of this inquiry has changed, and we have been working together to work out how best to plan an inquiry unit that will allow pupils to work through the FOSIL cycle in History – a cycle they have experienced throughout the year in a number of other subjects – while fulfilling the requirements of the MYP Year 1 assessment criteria, and covering the period of history that will finish off this year’s work and lead into next year’s topics.
In March, when we realised that an inquiry into the extent of the influence of Islam on medieval medicine was not going to be feasible due to limited time available, we decided to write a FOSIL inquiry around why the Black Death could not be cured instead. This would allow for the topic, the inquiry cycle and sources skills to be addressed at the same time and fulfil all of the department’s wishes in terms of content for the year. We therefore used what they wanted to achieve from it, along with MYP assessment targets, as the starting point and then planned backwards. Once we know where we want pupils to get to, and how we want them to demonstrate their learning, it is much easier to plan an inquiry that leads to that point and practises/introduces the skills needed.
Lucy has done a huge amount of work on this inquiry, shaping the question, finding resources and liaising with the teacher, and has developed something that both meets the subject requirements and looks really exciting and engaging for the students. Evidence, I think, that it is only possible to develop a really good inquiry question with both the subject objectives and the resources available clearly in mind throughout the planning stages.
My involvement has been very peripheral, but I wanted to comment on feedback the teacher involved gave at one of our recent Oakham School TeachMeets. In January I presented a twilight TeachMeet session on FOSIL, and in March our Lead Practitioners delivered a summary session revisiting all the TeachMeet topics from the term. It is always interesting to hear someone else’s interpretation, and particularly so in this case because it was teachers explaining FOSIL to teachers, rather than librarians to teachers. The History teacher gave an excellent summary of the key ideas (see page 3 of the summary session document, linked above), but also spoke with great enthusiasm about her collaboration with Lucy and how much she was looking forward to seeing the results of that in the inquiry this term.
As a bonus, Joe, another of our Lead Practitioners, also spoke about the benefits of collaboration with library staff in his section on Lesson Study (see the Essay Planners and Pressure Groups topics in this forum for fuller discussion of these collaborations). TeachMeets are a very valuable point of contact between teachers and library staff because they attract those people who are actively engaged in examining their practice and are interested in new ways to support and engage students in learning.
The inquiry journal for this inquiry has now been uploaded here. We produced a new Wonder page for this inquiry, which would be useful as a generic resource at the start of many other inquiries. The investigative journal is also slightly different and includes a Wonder column allowing students to link the information they have found back to their questions more easily. We have used a similar version of this recently in Geography too.
On this occasion, because we were focusing on other skills, we decided to give students several sets of sources to work from rather than make searching for sources a part of the task. Unfortunately it was necessary to remove the sources from the journal I have uploaded as we do not have relevant permissions to publish them online, although using them in the print version internally to our school is covered by our copyright licence.
The inquiry journal shows what students see of the inquiry, but clearly this is only half the story. To give you some idea of the guidance that was produced for teachers I have attached the draft Teachers’ Notes that Susanna Boyd (the History teacher working on the design of the inquiry and one of our Lead Practitioners) produced, in consultation with Lucy (our Lower and Middle School Librarian).