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Inquiry Projects: Helping Students Learn Through Interests

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If you follow this blog, you may know that I’m obsessed with project-based learning and inquiry projects. Before I started my journey towards high-interest activities, my students were disengaged during my lessons. Teaching, note taking, and skill practice was boring for them and for me.

Fast forward to today, and my class is often busy and loud, with a lot of exciting learning going on.

For the last few weeks, we’ve been practicing our reading, writing, and researching skills while studying ancient Rome in 6th grade. We used this project-based learning activity to learn about ancient Rome, then create projects and research papers based on individual student interest.

How we did it

We did all of the work in class, using every day materials (and a few old craft supplies sitting in my classroom) that we scavenged for. This took the pressure off of families to spend money on a project, or stay up until midnight the night before the project was due. It also ensured that the students created their project themselves. I remember my dad taking over many school projects when I was in school, and I didn’t learn much in the process!

A photograph of inquiry projects about Ancient Rome

Some of the projects were as simple as paper mosaics.

A photograph of inquiry projects about Ancient Rome

Other students used paint ($1 at the craft store) and colored posters for shields.

A photograph of inquiry projects about Ancient Rome

Or clay, paint, and a toothpick to make Roman coins

A photograph of inquiry projects about Ancient Rome

A couple even sewed outfits

A photograph of inquiry projects about Ancient Rome

They made vases from styrofoam cups, glue, and paint

A photograph of inquiry projects about Ancient Rome

A couple of students interested in engineering built a-frames and aqueducts.

A photograph of inquiry projects about Ancient Rome

One of my students is a gifted musician, so she wanted to know more about music in ancient Rome.

Related Resources

My students researched their projects and wrote their research papers for about two weeks. They used everything we learned about informational writing: pre-writing/brainstorming, finding credible sources, citing sources, and the rest of the writing process. I took the training wheels off and received the best writing pieces all year!

After they completed their essays and projects, we displayed them around the room and invited other classes to come to our classroom to learn about ancient Rome. My students loved telling them stories about ancient Rome and demonstrating the different parts of their projects. They were so excited about what they learned because they had a choice in which facet of ancient Rome to write about.

A photograph of inquiry projects about Ancient Rome

A photograph of inquiry projects about Ancient Rome
A photograph of inquiry projects about Ancient Rome

A photograph of inquiry projects about Ancient Rome

A photograph of inquiry projects about Ancient Rome

 

Reflection

I absolutely love how these inquiry projects turned out, and I’m immensely proud of my students! In a week I have to send them all off to middle school, so I’m very happy that we were able to end the year with inquiry projects that they’ll remember for years to come!

Looking for help implementing this project? Click the image below for the the downloadable resource that includes:

  • Planning pages
  • Inspiration & implementation directions
  • Writing organizers
  • Citing evidence
  • All printable student pages
  • Links to reading & multimedia resources for each facet of Roman life
  • and more!

A graphic for an inquiry project about Ancient Rome

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Written by
April Smith