We spent several days this past summer reviewing the 5th grade curriculum to determine what is most important for the students to learn. To guide us in this process, we developed what are called "essential questions" for each unit. These questions are a centerpiece of inquiry-based learning. The essential questions are shared with the students at the introduction of each unit to engage their curiosity and to spark further questions on their part.
Miss Weaver recently shared the four essential questions for the solar system unit. To help the students start answering the questions, Miss Weaver collaborated with Mr. Carpenter to use the mind mapping software called Inspiration to create digital mind maps. The image above shows the first stage of the mind map that each of the fifth graders created. As the students progress through the units gaining knowledge, they will return to their essential questions mind maps to expand them adding their responses while asking further questions in the provided "parking lot". This assessment method naturally gives students the opportunity to reflect upon their learning over time and to synthesize their thinking into true understanding of the main themes and concepts of the solar system unit of study.