This notebook is designed to be used by students to help provide some structure and organization for self-directed learning ("inquiry"). Students are encouraged to find a topic related to their own passions, interests and strengths. You can leave this completely open-ended or direct students further if the topic must be connected to a particular area of study.
You can dedicate as much time to this project as you have available. At minimum, I recommend at least 10 hours but more time will allow students to dive deeper or to have opportunities to complete more than one inquiry cycle. If students pick topics they are truly interested in, they will never truly be “done” - there will always be another aspect they can delve into, try differently to improve, etc.
Topics could be informational in nature but students are also encouraged to approach topics that get them trying to learn how to do something new as well. This could be through the topic they choose or also could be related to how they choose to creatively share their learning.
You can use this template by printing it out or by using it digitally. You may print pages from this PDF file or use the provided editable copy of the digital Google Slides file. Using the editable file will mean students can more easily type directly into it and/or use assistive technology features like text-to-speech or speech-to-text to support their learning.
If you are distributing this file digitally to your students, I highly recommend using Google Classroom and adding it as an assignment with the “make a copy for each student” option selected. If you are new to using Google tools with your students, visit https://edutrainingcenter.withgoogle.com/ to learn more and complete self-paced training.
Pages included are:
- Title page
- My Interests: This page will help you begin to gather ideas that will help you form your inquiry topic. Start by thinking about thinks you like (e.g., What do you like to do outside of school? What topics do you like to read about? etc), things you are curious about (e.g., something you want to learn how to do, something you’ve always wondered, etc.) and things you are good at (e.g., Hobbies, talents, strengths). By making lists of these things, you might start to see a way you could use some of your passions, interests and strengths in your inquiry project.
- My topic: Use your ideas from the previous page to select one topic you’d like to focus on for this inquiry. Next, start to list the things you already know about your topic and the things you’d like to learn more about, learn how to do, etc. Also, begin with the end in mind - start thinking about how you might want to share the results of your inquiry. Will you write a book, design a poster, film vlogs, create a website, record an original song, interview a community leader, organize a fundraiser, lead an event, etc? You may adjust your plans later but by having a good idea now, it will help you know how to best continue with your project.
- Timeline: Get organized! Set some goals and deadlines for your project. Break your tasks into chunks and think about all the things you will need to do in order to finish your whole project. Sometimes it even helps if you plan backwards - start with setting a deadline for when the whole project needs to be done! You may need to edit this list as you continue with your project. Come back to it frequently to give updates on what you’ve accomplished, add in any new steps if your plans change, etc.
- Research Notes: You’re likely going to answer lots of little questions along the way - so make as many copies of this page as you need. You can use this when you’re looking up information, when you’re trying to find out how to do something, etc. It’s important to consult multiple sources any time you are researching something - do the different sources agree with each other? Are some sources more reliable than others? After looking at at least three sources, write a conclusion in your own words to answer your question.
- Reflection: It’s good to stop and think about your project once in a while so add as many of these pages as you need. Are you staying on track and meeting your deadlines? Do you need to change your plans? What is going well? What could you do next to improve? Reflecting is one of the most important parts of learning!