The main focus of this Classroom Catalyst is to teach the SBI3U Evolution through the process of student based Knowledge Building.
The unit began with students being presented with the idea of shallow and deep questions. Students were given the grid below and a topic such as "distribution of wealth in the world"
Students worked in groups of 3 and came up with shallow and deep questions that they had about the topics and as a class we went through each groups questions. Once students understood the difference between shallow and deep questions we moved onto the Online software we would be using.
Students were then introduced to the online software Knowledge Forum. The knowledge forum is used to start off student conversations with a baseline question and have students put their initial thoughts attached to the idea. In this case the question was simle
"What is evolution"
Students were put in groups of 3 and had to add their idea of what evolution is to the forum. The teacher then reviews the answers and the next day as a class we discussed what evolution actually means. This eliminates preconceived notions and allows students to have a concrete definition as to what evolution actually is.
The next day students got back in their groups of 3 and were responsible for adding one of their own questions to the forum and then reading other peoples questions and either building on them or providing answers that they have researched. The forum begins to grow and go in different directions exposing the students to questions and ideas they may not have had on their own
Each day the students were responsible for keeping track of their own contributions, new questions, new ideas and other things that they had found interesting that day and documenting it in an Inquiry Lab Book which was a running journal.
As the teacher I would go home and review the responses that students had and find ones that were hitting on key ideas from the units and find ones that may have had misinformation or some confusion in their ideas.
The next day we would start off with a discussion about these topics. This allowed the class as a whole to build on the knowledge that other students had from the day before and develop new and deeper questions. By day 4/5 the students knew what was expected of them and began doing their own independent research, building on others ideas and introducing their own new questions.
Between the whole class after 2 weeks we had touched on every aspect of the evolution unit strictly through student discovery and inquiry. The students were then required to polish the Inquiry Lab Book by adding a cover page, table of contents, summary of key questions and ideas from each day, summary of questions they responded to overall learning they achieved and site all their sources that they had used in their responses.
An example of a student response has been attached below. (please excuse the formatting it shifted from docs to word)