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Exploring Units of Inquiry During Library Time

I try to go through the Sustainability 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 them 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 the Sustainability Compass to help organize, deepen and connect the discussion. 

In EY1-2 students look at the ways we play to learn and express our feelings and ideas during the Unit of Inquiry How We Express Ourselves. In EY3-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 3, during the Unit of Inquiry Sharing the Planet, students use the Sustainability Compass to look more closely at the challenges and risks children face worldwide.

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.


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.

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.

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