Yesterday, I drafted the two overarching, organizing questions that I will use to structure student inquiry in my Western Civ class. One question focuses on the discipline of history, the other on the specific content of the course. Both are open ended, challenging, and, I think, meaningful to pursue.
Year Long Process Question: Constructing the Past: How do historians do history?
Year Long Content Question: The idea of progress: How civilized are we?
What exactly do I mean when I say I will “use” the above questions to “structure student inquiry”? I need to start getting specific in my planning. Students are in my class for 90 days, 90 minutes a period, amounting to 8100 minutes or 135 hours.
How will students spend their time in my classroom? How much reading, writing, discussing, creating, interpreting, and collaborating will they do? After 135 hours, how will I know I have reached my targets? What are my targets?
I spent some time this morning thinking through the first question my students will consider as they begin to encounter the year long process question. This mind map will help me to articulate the big ideas I associate with Inquiry 1: What is history? This is a work in progress. And, most importantly, since I am shifting my approach to inquiry, few of the ideas on the mind map will be presented to students directly. Students will work on a variety of assignments that will help them to build their own understandings and connections. To construct these type of assignments, I must thoughtfully determine what my own understandings and goals are.