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A Foray into Structured Word Inquiry: Part ‘Dua’

December 8, 2015

So over a month and a half has passed since Pete Bowers came to JIS to talk Word Inquiry. I have chosen structured word inquiry as my professional goal for the year, mainly because I don’t know a lot about it and I find it interesting at the same time. I wrote about my first ‘foray’ into structures word inquiry ‘ here.

So I tried a few things in class like talking about prefixes and suffixes and was surprised how much the learners already knew.IMG_0522

I was looking for a ‘way in’ though, I wanted to study a word that came up in the unit. Our unit is essentially about culture and identity with the Enduring Understanding ‘Understanding more about others can help us understand more about ourselves’.

As a Grade 3 Team, we decided to remove the essential question ‘What is culture?” as we felt it was too abstract. So 4 weeks into the unit the learners keep bringing up the word culture- but do they (or do I) really understand the word. Aha.. a way in. Something to inquire into.

So we did a brainstorm “What is culture”- oddly enough I made a conscious decision NOT to do this but the learners were happy to show their understanding and misconceptions. I also wrote down my idea and we worked along side each other challenging and confirming our ideas of what culture is, or isn’t. We came up with this.

  • culture is who we are
  • culture is religion and celebrations
  • culture is a group of people together
  • culture is our personality


The next lesson, we wanted to check our ideas with what we could find ‘officially’ so we went to Etymology Online and found this.


We then noticed that culture is related to colony so we clicked on that and got this.


That sort of made sense and our initial suspicions, brainstorm piece confirmed it. In the next session, we unpacked culture even further. I had the children think of all the words they felt were associated with the word culture. We then did a word search and found this.


We found some associated words, some of which we discarded and didn’t fit our definition. We actually had other words in mind and wondered why these didn’t show up in the word searcher. We tried a few more ,searched using the word culture as a base.

In the this lesson I brought up the mini matrix maker the kids thought this was VERY cool and wanted to test drive. Ill save that for next session but it was great to see their enthusiasm.

So together the words we know or found that were linked to the word culture we went about making a matrix and eventually (with some guidance) came up with this.Screenshot 2015-12-06 08.01.29

The learners immediately made a connection with ‘intercultural’  as that is the name of school and then we started to unpack the meaning of these words by going back to the word search, dictionaries, asking primary sources. We are still doing this and adding to our word bank.

The next step is to get a deeper understanding of these words, make deeper connections maybe a word web or something like that or an image collage. Ill see where the inquiry takes us. Id like to see the learners use these words in a literacy piece somehow. Thats the next step of our inquiry I think. This inquiry was the product of about 5 mini lessons so far.

Finally, this Structured Word Inquiry linked well with  Tuning In provocations we brought back into the discussions. Our Identity – ‘All about me Puzzle’ and our Mystery in 3JG Artifacts Table where we had to ask questions and guess who the artifacts belonged to.


Identity Puzzle

15 - 1 (1)

A Mystery in 3 JG

Stay tuned for part tiga………..

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