Supporting Units of Inquiry through the Library

by Sarah Handley, 2012, while serving as Library and Information Services Specialist, PTIS, Thailand

I try to go through Compass with all Junior grade levels as often as possible, but at least twice a year. With the younger ages, to review the Compass Points I put four large (A3 size) laminated sheets on the floor with N, E, S, and W. I give each student a picture and have him or her stand on which point they think it belongs to. For the youngest students the pictures are very simplistic, and the pictures are more complex for older students; this invites conversation about those items that could go in more than one point. Then I choose a book, preferably linked to the class’ current Unit of Inquiry, and we spend several sessions discussing the book, using Compass to help organize, deepen and connect the discussion.

Selected pictures from the book are copied, cut and laminated to facilitate further discussion; students place the laminated pictures into Compass domains

Simplistic images for youngest students

In Early Years 1 and 2 students look at the ways we play to learn, and to express our feelings and ideas during the Unit of Inquiry How We Express Ourselves. In Early Years 3 and Grade 1 we look at our Library Essential Agreement at the end of Term 1; through the different Compass lenses students reflect on essential agreement behaviours and how they might be improved (if necessary).

In Grade 2 we have used the book Me, Oliver Bright by Megan De Kantzow and Sally Rippin for three years in a row connected with the Unit of Inquiry Where We Are in Place & Time. The book is about an Australian boy who compares his life to that of his father and grandfather. To facilitate our discussion, I have laminated copies of pictures from the story, which students post on a large board marked with the four Compass Points.

Example pages from Oliver Bright

In Grade 3, during the Unit of Inquiry Sharing the Planet, students use the Compass to look more closely at the challenges and risks children face worldwide. Selected pictures from the book are copied, cut and laminated to facilitate further discussion; students place the laminated pictures into Compass domains.

In Grade 4 we do a similar exercise using the book Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta connected with the Unit of Inquiry Sharing the Planet. We spend at least four weeks on this lesson (including one lesson reviewing Compass), and again, I use laminated copies of pictures from the book to facilitate our discussion.

More complex images for older students

In Grade 5, I do a lesson on Using Energy At School connected with the Unit of Inquiry Sharing the Planet. I have laminated copies of some pages from Save Energy by Claire Llewellyn that show parts of a school and how energy is used in a school setting. We look for places where we could save energy, and then use the Compass to help discuss why we might want to save energy. I write directly on the laminated copy as students identify points of discussion.

Picture of energy usage points