A Year 4 Unit of Inquiry

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The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme organises learning through Unit of Inquiries. This article looks a current Year 4 unit to explain how it works.

Year 4 looked at how technology is a tool for extending our creativity and imagination. This unit is part of the theme how we express ourselves. The theme brings in the academic subjects English and the Visual Arts.

The teacher started the unit with this video called the Spark of Life. She then conducted a Philosophy 4 Children (P4C) discussion on imagination. P4C is a great way to get students to start thinking about a topic. Students discussed what it means to be inspired, to represent experiences and what perspective is.

In one lesson, students looked at how artists express dreams in the art movement surrealism. The students saw postcards of Salvador Dali. They reflected on what was happening and how it made them feel. They then created an original story and filmed the trailer of the movie version.

In another lesson students selected a meaningful experience or time in their lives to reflect upon. This resulted in one student producing this powerful poem.

Pitch black
By Jack, Year 4
There once was a happy
full of joy
and peace.
Then, in the blink of an eye,
at the speed of light,
it happened. The house,
the joy,
the peace,
everything I ever loved
swallowed in pure darkness.
Pitch black.

All units of inquiry look at a topic through different lenses. Students explore the form and function of a topic. They look at how an object of inquiry changes over time and how it affects other things. Students are also encouraged to see things from different perspectives. Finally, students reflect on the whole process.

Ben Toettcher