ELA Teacher Accelerates Student Inquiry and Provides Meaning with Journeys

Posted on Posted in User Stories

Shannon Schroeder teaches 8th grade English Language Arts at Homer Jr. High in Homer Glen, IL, and this past school year she focused on building up students’ questioning skills in her classes. “One of my professional goals this year was inquiry based learning, was to really focus on students building really provocative questions: questions that promoted deeper thought, and deeper introspection, and furthered their analysis of the literature, especially.”

I loved when my students could figure out that that’s the direction they needed to go by asking questions.”

Shannon Schroeder

As with many teachers starting with an inquiry based approach, Shannon found that it required a lot of modeling and practice for her students to learn how to ask really meaningful questions. “They have since kindergarten answered questions that someone else has created and they haven’t very often been challenged to ask good questions. It really was a skill that I modeled, modeled, modeled.” Over the course of the year, Shannon gave tools and frameworks to use to develop their questioning skills. As things progressed, her students were able to guide each other in asking more meaningful questions, and that ultimately led them to understand and use core concepts of the class: author’s purpose, literary devices like foreshadowing, conflict, etc. “I loved when my students could figure out that that’s the direction they needed to go by asking questions.”

What I loved about using the new Recap was the big question button, and that probably doesn’t surprise you.

Shannon Schroeder

Recap 2.0 released in the spring with new tools for teachers to gather and manage student questions, which accelerated the questioning skills Shannon’s students had been developing throughout the year. “What I loved about using the new Recap was the big question button, and that probably doesn’t surprise you.” After activities and readings, like Shannon’s unit on Anne Frank, she had students submit their questions via Recap. She found that by gathering all of her students’ questions in a queue, she was able to focus her next activities on the topics they were curious about, or gaps in their knowledge, then design Journeys in response.

I could fill that space that they were curious about with something that was meaningful and connected.

Shannon Schroeder

“My Journey...was in direct response to their questions. It was really inspiring to see their questions because it gave me more of a direction of what I should feed to them. I felt like I could pinpoint on what they were curious about, after they had asked those questions. For example, with Anne Frank, they were really curious about Mr. Frank, and why he hesitated to publish the diary. I had found a little clip about why he hesitated and that it was really personal. The students were like ‘oh yeah, that makes sense now,’ and it just added some clarity.”

“The process of having them ask questions and then looking at their questions, and then creating a Journey for their class as a result of their questions, I really felt focused the intention of the next day’s class. That gave me that formative feedback, so that I could fill that space that they were curious about with something that was meaningful and connected.”

About Recap

Recap is a free Q&A platform where questions go to flourish. It comes with a question gathering queue that helps you privately collect, give feedback on, share and drive dialogue from student questions. It also has tools to help you ignite curiosity and assess students that help you overcome anyone's apathy to learn.

Give it a try today!