Stage 1: Initiating and eliciting
The first stage in the cycle is about eliciting the knowledge, interests, ideas and motivation of students. The teacher’s role is to help students draw on their own lives and experiences to discover things that interest them, make them excited, curious and want to ask questions. It is concerned with developing an understanding of students’ worlds, for example, what they’re interested in and what they might want to do next. It is also about getting students to look at familiar things from surprising angles; asking questions, igniting ideas and spurring them on. The message to students is that they have got something interesting to say – something worthwhile to bring to their lessons.
Some of the things that might be taking place at this stage include:
- finding and collecting things
- drawing, sketching, telling stories
- taking stock, observing, noting, counting
- posing questions and identifying problems
- talking, debating, disagreeing, arguing, responding to stimuli.
During this stage of enquiry it is important that students have the chance to do some of the following in order to reflect upon the world and generate ideas and areas of interest:
describe, list, draw, name
state, explain, estimate, generalise
question, hypothesise, discuss, illustrate
imagine, give an opinion, collect, find things
respond, sketch, measure, observe
note, talk, pose problems, ask questions
In Enquiring Minds activities in schools, we have seen that students are able to display knowledge about popular culture, the media, sports and new technology; about social networks in local communities and the geography and demography of their localities, as well as about how to handle money and how to ‘make the best’ of family and financial situations. Others have shown they have more specialist interests and burgeoning knowledge in areas as diverse as disease prevention, healthy eating and robotics. All of these are rich areas for exploration. Classroom activities, tasks and extended projects can be designed from any one of them, the object always being that students’ existing knowledge and ideas can be worked on, extended and co-constructed with support from peers and teachers.