One of our greatest frustrations has been the wide gap in inquiry skills at each grade level and the slow progression of students’ growth from year to year. In any given class, it seemed like half of the students had already mastered the skills we were teaching, while the other half was completely unfamiliar with the skills. Another frustration was that it was impossible for us to meet with every team from every department in a way that would ensure that the scope of projects we developed would provide an equitable learning experience for all students.
We quickly realized that creating a consistent framework outlining how students should move from basic inquiry skills to advanced skills would have several benefits:
- Close skills gaps and give students equitable opportunities to learn and master appropriately challenging skills
- Make better use of our expertise and our time
- Evolve our role from being gatekeepers of inquiry skills into being leaders and instructional coaches who share the responsibility of implementing inquiry skills with our colleagues
- Formalizing our library mission
- Developing a framework
What we have learned:
- Having this inquiry skills framework has helped us reconceptualize our program and the way we collaboratively plan projects for any subject area in any grade level. In particular, it makes the focus of each lesson more purposeful and more connected to the overall scope and sequence of inquiry skills.
- The framework is OUR curriculum standards, which gives us leverage as a department so that we have an equal stake with classroom teachers when collaboratively developing inquiry projects.
- Students can use the framework to get a clear outline of the learning expectations at each grade level and the progression of skills from year to year.
- Both the mission statement and the learner competencies framework are living documents that we expect to continually update as our community, access to resources, and program priorities all shift and evolve.
If you have suggestions, we would love to hear them!