What’s That Part?…and Other First Grade Inquiries

I recently had the opportunity to gather together resources and stories to share for a presentation on embedding inquiry across the curriculum at a PASCD Fall event. When trying to come up with a definition of inquiry, after collecting responses from colleagues, I found it helpful to identify what inquiry is NOT. I kept coming back to the idea that inquiry is not teachers asking students questions we already know the answers to. Instead, it’s providing students with open-ended exploration driven by their curiosities.

So what might this look like in an elementary classroom?

For one of our first-grade technology lessons, we decided to explore some of the different parts of our Chromebooks and figure out how the parts came together to make a whole. Students first brainstormed some parts that they thought a Chromebook might need in order to work. Then we took one apart to see what the inside looked like. We discovered screens, batteries, screws, wires, and lots of other parts too.

Our next job was to take a closer look at two ‘mystery parts.’ We 
recorded our observations and made some predictions about what we thought these ‘parts’ could be and how they might work together to make a whole. We were excited to discover that our parts were LED lights and batteries and that when we put them together in a certain way, we were able to make the bulb light up!

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