Organizing Inquiry

I’m often asked about the organizational structures I utilize to ease workflow and support students in their inquiry.  Free inquiry can be daunting.  Take this time of year for example.  I currently have 30 students in each of my four English classes all working on different inquiry topics with unique resources and methods of collecting learning evidence.  From the outside looking in, things can appear overwhelming.

I firmly believe that the more voice and choice there is in a classroom the more structures we must have in place to ensure learners are successful in their inquiry.

One structural piece we utilize in our classroom is a Google Doc that acts as an inquiry hub for all projects throughout the year.  Students hyperlink their name to their wordpress blogs and they share an inquiry folder titled “Learning Evidence” that allows us to share our work as inquiry happens.

This format works great for a number of reasons.  One, all students in a class have access to the doc and to each other’s folders to view what we are all learning and working towards.  This is powerful as it acts as a natural springboard for collaboration and sharing.  I’m always pleasantly surprised as students connect and comment on their peer’s work and seek ways to support one another.

Two, these folders help shift our focus from end product to process and in doing so helps students reflect and comment on the competencies of learning as opposed to the method of communicating their learning.

And third, I’m able to check in to their learning evidence folders whenever I want to.  Whether it’s during class time, over my coffee break, or after my kids are asleep at night, this Google Doc grants me permission to pay their learning a visit whenever I am ready and able.


Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 7.42.31 PM

A screenshot of our inquiry hub Google Doc

I love being pleasantly surprised when I check out their learning evidence folders.  Certainly I see the more traditional forms of evidence such as notes, photos, articles and websites.  But I also see learners taking a more personalized approach to their sharing their learning.  Check out these three and feel free to leave a comment below.

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