An Inquiry Alphabet

One of our favorite exit slips during the Introduction to Inquiry week has participants creating an Inquiry Alphabet. We distribute letters randomly and give teachers a couple of minutes to write a sentence that begins with their letter or in which a word with their letter is central. Then we ask each person to read their sentence out loud, going through the alphabet in sequence, before saying goodbye for the day. This activity is a great formative assessment as well as a good summarizer of the day and it takes under 10 minutes to do. Here’s one from last summer.

A. Activity before content provides students a way to explore and develop their own questions.

B. Blast-off was a fun activity, allowing students to explore and construct their own knowledge of the materials.

C. Communication is a necessary and important component of inquiry.

D. Delight is the curiosity sparked in students by the hook or discrepant event used to lead off your lesson.

E. Exploration is part of the learning cycle that encompasses 2 areas of the 5E lesson plan – engage & explore – which are vital to science inquiry.

F. Fun for students involves finding patterns, exploration, and answering questions.

Fun with a Capital F! (Principal Lawanda Bishop and Teacher Mandy Guzman)

Fun with a Capital F! (Principal Lawanda Bishop and Teacher Mandy Guzman)

G. Gathering information through hands-on play and observation helps students formulate and construct trends and make claims based on evidence.

H. Heard a lot of great information about how to facilitate classroom instruction so students increase their learning, learn to think rather than memorize, and construct solutions to various problems.

I. Inquiry-based instruction involves a very important exploratory phase for students that can then be refined to target instruction.

J. Just make sure to allow the students to develop their own “I wonder” questions based on experimental play.

K. Keeping students actively involved increases their retention of material and decreases classroom management problems.

L. Learners need time to manipulate and discover on their own.

Learners Need Time to Discover on Their Own (Justin Rook)

Learners Need Time to Discover on Their Own (Teacher Justin Rook)

M. Modeling inquiry helps teachers reinforce strategies to be effective in the classroom.

N. Never discourage fun while teaching and learning.

O. Organization is a key to having a successful inquiry-based classroom.

P. Participating in an activity before diving into the underlying content helps students learn.

Q. Questions are essential to evaluate students’ understanding of content.

R. Responses to any action depend upon the manipulated variables involved in the inquiry.

S. Stop using vocabulary to lead off the science lessons and start with something that will engage students’ interest.

T. Teaching kids to Think is what inquiry is all about.

Focused Observation Provokes Thinking (Teacher Beverly Lowry)

Focused Observation Promotes Thinking (Teacher Beverly Lowry)

U. Unlike my typical way of teaching, in the constructivist classroom we start with time to explore with the materials.

V. V = D/T (Velocity = Distance/Time) is more meaningful to students if they can experiment with toy cars in the classroom.

W. Wait Time 1 and Wait Time 2 gives all students time to think and respond.

X. eXplanations should be provided after learning activities not before.

Z. Zee you tomorrow!

Perhaps your students would enjoy the challenge of creating their own alphabet near the end of a unit.

~ Penny

You can learn more about STEM Institute here.



Filed under assessment, constructivist learning, inquiry science, Uncategorized

3 responses to “An Inquiry Alphabet

  1. I will definitely be reviewing this alphabet with my students. Perhaps it may become a poster in my classroom.


  2. This was a fun activity!!!


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