Friday, September 20, 2013

Reflection and Inquiry

Reflection and inquiry are not just key components of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years, Middle Years, and Diploma Programmes, they are foundational to good education.  This year I started a project in both our Latin I (Latin 1/2) and Latin II (Latin 3/4) classes.  The Latin II students made presentations today, and to say that I was pleased with the results is the understatement of the year.  I could hardly wait to take pictures, upload them, and write this blog post.  What they did with this project exceeded my expectations and has convinced me to continue it in the years to come.

The students were instructed to keep a section of their notebooks titled QHN/QNC, abbreviations that stand for quod hodie noscebam (what I learned today) and quod noscere cupio (what I want to learn).  At the end of each class period, they had to jot down either a QHN or a QNC.  If there was something really interesting, intriguing, or meaningful to them that they learned that day, they would write a QHN.  If something we discussed in class inspired a question, they would write a QNC.

The project required that they produce a poster from one of two options. In option A, they could present ten QHNs.  Each QHN needed to be illustrated and be accompanied by a statement about why it was chosen.  In option B, they could present one QNC.  It needed to be a significant question and had to be accompanied by illustrations, an explanation of what inspired it, and the answer that had been discovered through independent research.

I was blown away by the presentations today for three reasons.  First, the posters looked very good.  I had told the students that these would be displayed in our hallway, and since the posters were representing them...what they had learned or what they wanted to know...they needed to be neat and attractive.  They certainly scored well there!

Second, I was impressed with the variety.  Students who presented ten QHNs offered incredibly different things.  Some focused more on important grammar or vocabulary they had learned or reviewed.  Others reflected on history, culture, or mythology.  Those who pursued QNCs went after an amazing array of topics, from exploring what the Romans ate for breakfast and why they enjoyed the violence of gladiator shows to understanding more deeply the role of the senate during the Republic.

Finally, I was simply stunned with the genuine interest and enthusiasm these students displayed in their presentations.  They did not merely read from their posters, but with great energy talked about what they had written or researched.  Their body language and facial expressions were dead giveaways of their interest, no doubt kindled because they had considerable choice in what they were presenting.


  1. That's why you are a teacher of the year candidate.

  2. We often leave out the reflection because we say there is just not enough time! If we don't reflect, we really don't complete the cycle. This project not only builds in reflection, it gives them a guide or purpose for engaging themselves in class. It is also empowering to the students - as inquiry often is - because there is no "wrong or right" answer. Love it!!

  3. Great examples of inquiry...I hope all teachers in MSDWT get to see this! Outstanding!

  4. Thank you, Chad! Tootsie Roll, you are right. We all say that we do not have enough time. I have certainly said it. Interestingly, when I put this into the daily routine and knew that it was there, I made time for it.


This blog exists to celebrate the work of high school students. Any comment that is inconsistent with that purpose will be deleted.