It's a real struggle for many teachers to let go of content and control. It can be hard to let go to trust your students to know that they have the best intentions at heart. But the more you can do this, the deeper the students will delve into their learning.
Read and imagine this exchange between Eve, Poppy, Pam, and Lizzie (pseudonyms), a smart group of fourth grade girls of mixed ethnicity in a Title One school in Colorado.
The scene- the students are in Inquiry Circles discussing the book they are reading, The Watsons Go to Birmingham:1963 (Curtis). In this part of the conversation they are examining characters in the text while learning about the civil rights era in the United States.
Here, they wonder about Bryon the older brother in the story. The girls discuss whether or not he can be trusted, or is telling the truth. In the beginning of the conversation the teacher (Ramona) is not at the group. She enters about half way through and contributes to the conversation. She is monitoring more than one Inquiry Circle and dips in and out of the meetings occurring around the classroom. Eve's job in the Inquiry Circle is to encourage making connections to the text, and so she begins: