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Page history last edited by Judi Moreillon 2 years, 4 months ago

3rd-grade Inquiry Unit - Open Lesson


Lesson Title: Where Do We Begin the Inquiry Process?


Inquiry Phase: Open


Grade Level: 3rd Grade


Essential Questions:

1. What can we learn by studying the lives of people who have influenced the well-being of a community?

2. How do we formulate open-ended questions and conduct an inquiry project?


Lesson Plan Objectives:

At the end of these lessons, students will be able to:

1. Connect background knowledge related to how food gets to people’s tables in Denton.

2. Brainstorm initial broad topics for an inquiry unit.

3. Reflect on their process.


Social Studies TEKS (for this inquiry unit):


(b) Knowledge and skills.

(1) History. The student understands how individuals, events, and ideas have influenced the history of various communities. The student is expected to:

(A) describe how individuals, events, and ideas have changed communities, past and present.


(12) Citizenship. The student understands the impact of individual and group decisions on communities in a constitutional republic. The student is expected to:

(A) give examples of community changes that result from individual or group decisions; (B) identify examples of actions individuals and groups can take to improve the community.


(14) Culture. The student understands the role of heroes in shaping the culture of communities, the state, and the nation. The student is expected to:

(A) identify and compare the heroic deeds of state and national heroes, including Hector P. Garcia and James A. Lovell, and other individuals such as Harriet Tubman, Juliette Gordon Low, Todd Beamer, Ellen Ochoa, John "Danny" Olivas, and other contemporary heroes.


ELA-R TEKS (for this lesson plan):


(25) Research/Research Plan.

(A) generate research topics from personal interests or by brainstorming with others, narrow to one topic, and formulate open-ended questions about the major research topic.


Standards for the 21st-Century Learner Indicators:

1.1.1 Follow an inquiry-based process in seeking knowledge in curricular subjects, and make the real-world connection for using this process in own life.

1.1.2 Use prior and background knowledge as context for new learning.


Assessment Tools: K-W-L Graphic Organizer and Inquiry Phase Exit Slip


Resources for this Unit of Study


Resources for this Lesson:

Gathering the Sun: An Alphabet in Spanish and English by Alma Flor Ada, English translation by Rosa Zubizarreta, illustrated by Simón Silva (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard 1997)

Denton Public Library Video: "Library Larry Visits the Denton Community Market"

K-W-L Graphic Organizer

Inquiry Phase Exit Slip


Estimated Lesson Time: One 45-minute Lesson or Two 30-minute Lessons


Instructional Plan Outline:


Classroom Teacher – School Librarian Collaboration: The educators will open the unit. They will guide students in brainstorming topics. They will also model reflection using think-alouds.


Measurable Outcome or Final Products: Students brainstorm ideas in the K-column of a K-W-L Chart and use an exit slip to reflect on their process.



• Educators bring in various fresh food items that have labels from various countries and parts of the United States; hide them from students’ view in a brown grocery bag.

• The educators review and make copies of the K-W-L Graphic Organizer and Inquiry Phase Exit Slip (two per sheet).

• Note: Educators may decide to include the Evaluate: Reflection Graphic Organizer in students’ inquiry journals. Students can then record feelings, accomplishments, and challenges at each inquiry phase throughout the unit.

• Integrate academic vocabulary into think-alouds: inquiry and background knowledge.

• Integrate discipline-specific academic vocabulary into the lesson: migrant farmworker.


Day 1


1. Using think alouds, educators recall the fresh food items they ate the previous day and record items in the left-hand column of a t-chart. (These are the items in the brown grocery bag.)

2. Ask: How did this food get to our tables? Ask students to think-pair-share then suggest possible places where our food is grown, who grew it, and how food becomes available for us to buy it.

3. While one educator solicits students’ ideas, the other records them on the right-hand column of a t-chart.

4. Share the fresh food items and invite students to read the labels.

5. Educators post the lesson objectives and let students know they will be working in teams to brainstorm ideas related to community helpers who help us get the food we put on our tables.



6. Brainstorm big (main) ideas with the whole class: backyard gardens, farmers, supermarkets, grocery stores, Denton Community Market, Denton Community Food Center, and more.

7. Ask how many students have visited the Denton Community Market. What food did they buy there?

8. Play Denton Public Library Video: "Library Larry Visits the Denton Community Market"

9. Divide students into four or five teams (depending on the number of main ideas they generated in their initial brainstorm).


Guided Practice

10. Educators monitor as students work in groups to discuss what they already know about their team’s big idea and record their ideas on the “Know” column of the Graphic Organizer.


Second Part or Day 2

Closure or Presentation

11. At the end of the lesson (Day 1) or at the beginning of the Day 2 lesson, reporters from each group will share some of their team’s ideas.

12. Educators ask: Have you ever thought about the people who plant, tend, and pick the fresh foods you eat? Have you ever heard of César Chávez? Do you know what a migrant farmworker is? Activate or build background knowledge.

13. Let students know that Alma Flor Ada, the author of Gathering the Sun: An Alphabet in Spanish and English, dedicated the book to César Chávez. Read these brief recommended poems: In this order: “FarmWorkers,” “Surco/Field Row,” “Honor/Honor,” “Gracias/Thanks,” and “César Chávez.” (Ideally the educators will read the poems in both English and Spanish.)

14. Reflect with students on the emotions in these poems and respond to the illustrations as well. 15. Describe the inquiry project in terms of the social studies and language arts standards and post and discuss the essential questions.

16. Use think-alouds to model completing the Inquiry Phase Exit Slip.

17. Students complete individual Open Inquiry Phase Exit Slips.




18. What ideas are you excited about pursuing in an inquiry project?

19. How do you feel as you begin this project?



20. Educators review the teams’ K-W-L Graphic Organizers and individual students' Inquiry Phase Exit Slips.


Lesson Plan Resources


For Students





 (This is a generic form that can be used in any phase of the inquiry process.)


For Educators

Lesson Plans







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