Inquiry Based Diagram Lesson (Writing)

     As teachers, we have a natural tendency to want to pour tons of information into our students. However, it doesn't work that way (how many times do we say, "I taught it. They should know it." Yet, they don't). This is because teaching does not necessarily effect learning (it's part of it, but there's a lot more involved). Students should be seeing, exploring, and discovering in order to make sense of their world and their work. Sometimes students just have to notice what works to understand why they should be doing it.
    This is why inquiry and discovery are such successful strategies to use in the classroom. Now, when I say inquiry and discovery, I don't mean that students flounder directionlessly. Instead, time should be alloted for students to explore, wonder and to question. As you'll see in the below video, I inform students of the teaching point: that avid non-fiction writers use diagrams to teach their readers even more about their animals. Before I fully explain what should be on the diagram, I have them observe, and thendiscuss in partnerships and with the whole class. This gives students the opportunity to observe and discover the effective elements of the diagram first (as opposed to me just telling them), but then also allows me to reign their learning back in, in order to ensure that they captured the most important important elements (as opposed to wandering aimlessly).
     As you watch the video, notice how I let the students observe and discuss first. Then, how I restate the (correct) things that they observed and emphasize those things. Also notice how this mini lesson is broken up between my talking time and their talking time. You also don't see the time that is broken up when I send them off for their writing folders. This is all done intentionally because they are very young learners whose attention spans are very short.