The Inquiry section of this libguide provides simple step by step instructions for planning a unit of inquiry starting with concepts from the Ministry Big Ideas through to Essential Questions and ideas for assessing understanding. The section also directs you to numerous practical and theoretical resources written by leading authors in the field. Please AskALibrarian if you have questions or need assistance. The SD44 Secondary Teacher Librarians will answer your email the same day.
When beginning a unit of inquiry, teachers need to determine which concept they want their students to develop an understanding of through the inquiry process. This understanding can be called an enduring understanding. It is the understanding that students take away from this unit and apply to future situations. It is the understanding the students transfer.
Concepts are universal, timeless, abstract, and move students toward higher levels of thinking (Erickson, 2013). Concepts are broad ideas that transcend the perspectives and limits of any specific subject-area. A concept is something that can be taught in any discipline, no matter what the content includes. Student access content to develop a broader understanding of a concept.
Here are some examples of concepts, as they compare to topics.
To determine the concept from your unit, look to the Ministry Big ideas. From the Big Ideas, decide what concept will frame the inquiry. Choose one concept per unit of inquiry.
Now that we have identified the concept or enduring understanding that students will transfer, we need to pose an essential question. This essential question helps direct the students' inquiry. Essential questions point to the big ideas of a subject (Wiggins, 2015). A good essential question has these characteristics: (from McTighe and Wiggins, 2013)
Performance tasks are a great way for students to demonstrate their understanding of a concept. A rich performance task or project serves as a meaningful learning activity as well as a basis for assessing how well students understand concepts and competencies as shown by their ability to apply their learning to an authentic situation (McTighe, 2016). Check these resources for more info: