Today we had the incredible pleasure of having Trevor Mackenzie into our class to share about inquiry in the classroom and how he scaffolds student understanding to allow students choice and voice.

I am posting my notes for my own reference but I will be referring to his website and writing more on this later. I’ve been thinning a lot about using this in drama to give students opportunity to write and create their own work and present it live or via film…more on that later.

Genius hour

Data is important but knowing your students is much more important

Data should help you get to know your students – there is a always a story behind the data (absenteeism or grades) and this should direct your instruction



Gradual release of responsibility/control

Structured – get the boxes checked here and in the first 3 so you know the learning objectives have been done before free inquiry

Trevor talks openly with the students about the process – meta cognitive about learning. At end of Guided they write a reflection about what skills and abilities they needed to get through guided, and what were the challenges and what are they worried about going into free.

Structured – “how are stories told and why are they important”

Units start with essential questions instead of thematic units – then you can bring in multiple forms of resources

Teacher selects question and resource and the performance task (summative assessment – choose something they won’t likely do themselves later, like an essay)

Controlled – still ask the question

identify resources but they choose which to use

Some choice in the presentation task

Guided – teacher chooses topic, students draft a question that will focus their inquiry

  1. ex) what makes a global citizen?

what 2 traits to possess that make you a good global citizen? What 2 traits do you need to work towards? Then they work towards that using resources around them, including working with other students from other schools etc

mentors and leaders

can we actually improve the child’s literacy over the 2 months of working together

give children a + outlook for learning towards high school

Assessment – 3 reflections posted to their blog and their personal narrative essay talking about the buddy project

Free – they pick the topic, teacher helps them design their essential question and they work on it for the next 2 months – weekly reflections

they do a free inquiry proposal – they need to meet requirements of the course, is it achievable, is it meaningful


Graphic – Four Pillars of inquiry

– inquiry Proposal


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