Guided Inquiry – Why is Water Important?
Thank you to SaskOutdoors for the resource and financial support! Working with my colleague, Lori Newberry (Instructional Coach), we lead my grade 6 class through a guided inquiry on the importance of water. Students participated in a variety of activities, heard from a number of guest speakers and viewed and responded to teacher and student selected resources. Students developed and explored questions about the importance of which they presented on at our World Water Fair on World Water Day.
We introduced the topic by talking about the process of inquiry – questioning and wondering. Students wrote about everything they already knew about water and thought about what they still wanted to learn. We introduced various thinking strategies to help develop critical thinking skills. We focused lessons on Thick & Thin Questions, See Think Wonder with provocative water images, and determining the difference between fact, opinion, and bias.
We invited a number of guests with differing perspectives and expertise who included:
Engineers without borders who taught about water filtration and their work in third world countries. Students participated in building their own water filters and recognized the importance of clean water. Many realized that we take this resource for granted.
Tammy Myers from the Moose Jaw Watershed Stewareds spoke to our class. She defined watersheds, explained about plant and animal life and the health of watersheds. Then lead students through an experimental oil spill and clean up.
Barb Frazer is Traditional Cree Knowledge Keeper who lead the students through an oral history of the importance of water to First Nations, while making tea and guiding students through the creation of a mini-book called ‘Gift of Life”.
Girma Maneso is the founder of the Elder Hope Project. He visited to speak about land grabs in Ethopia that have left people without access to water. The Elder Hope Project is developing infrastructure to supply 15 000 people with better access to drinking water. Students took this as a call to action and organized a Blue Whale sale at the school that raised funds for Elder Hope.
Project WET facilitators, Linda Dodd and Lizbeth Nicholls guided the students through four activities. The first involved collecting data on where water is found on Earth. Students predicted 69% of the planet is covered in water and the experiment showed 70% is covered in water. The second activity was called ‘A Drop in the Bucket”. It explained the amount of freshwater compared to salt water and reminded students that vast amounts of fresh water is frozen in ice caps, leaving 0.3% of the world’s water supply for drinking and agriculture. The third Project Wet activity taught about the cultural importance of rain sticks and guided students through making their own. The experienced closed by talking about the water cycle and participating in a collaborative ‘Thunderstorm’.
Thanks to SaskOutdoors financial support our class was able to visit Buffalo Pound twice. Our first trip was to a program by the Moose Jaw Wildlife Federation called Classrooms on Ice. This experience provided a students to learn about water ecology, fish biology and ice fishing.
In the spring we took second trip to Buffalo Pound we stopped at the Moose Jaw Water Treatment Plant for a tour. Students learned about the process water has to go through to get from the source to our taps. After the tour we visited the Nicholl Flats boardwalk at in Buffalo Pound Provincial Park where interpretive staff spoke about the importance of marshes and lead student in a pond dipping activity.