Katie Baker's Blog of Inquiry

Sunday, February 27, 2005


...To me personally:
My personal approach to inquiry has been put under a microscope during this project. From the very beginning, I jumped right in and started researching without planning, questioning, or anything like that. I realized that I hadn't really been taught "steps" and I just have created my own over time: Understand the problem, find information, take notes, from notes look for a focus for the project (like, what do I have a lot of information on), and then create a product. This process was somewhat successful for me, but I did spend quite a bit of time trying to get my projects finished working by these steps. Now that I have participated in the inquiry process using the steps of the models that we have been researching, I want to do it like this every time. I felt so organized. Even when following these steps, I still had a tendency to follow my old ways, and I realized that it created much more work for me. I can now see the importance of following distinct steps every time I participate in this process so I can start to internalize these steps so hopefully I can just do them subconsciously.

...To students inquiry experiences
There are some similarities and differences between my experiences and possible student experiences during the inquiry process. I think the inquiry process was easier for me because I have so much more practice and skill than students in finding information, analyzing and synthesizing, organizing information, finding connections, writing, and developing products. So, the amount of time it took me to do these things was probably much less then students spend on them. Also, because I didn't have to learn how to do these things, my frustration level was probably not as high as students. For example, if I couldn't find the information that I was looking for, I had the skills to try other things. Students might not have that skill and it could probably get very frustrating for them if they had a hard time finding information. They need more scaffolds than I did. However, I was following a step-by-step process that was fairly new and unnatural for me which is probably similar to students following the inquiry process. I was guilty of it and I have seen students do this: slip back into old patterns because it is more natural and comfortable. After finishing my project through this process, I have learned what works and what doesn't. I think after students have participated in this process, they start to understand the value of it, like I did, and use some strategies that they employed the last time they did an inquiry project to their advantage. I also think that many of my feelings are similar to my students feelings when they are working on a project like this. At the beginning of this project, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and when I found my focus, I was feeling excited and motivated to start working on it. Through Carol Kuhlthau's research and development of the "Information Search Process," she determined what students were feeling during the process. Low and behold, I was feeling the same things as students were. When students start their project, they feel apprehensive and uncertain (similar to my feelings), and when students find their focus, they feel optimistic and confident (again, similar to what I felt).

...To the curriculum:
This project applies to Indian Academic Standards for Health, the AASL standards for Student Learning, and the NETS.

Grade 6:
Health Academic Standard 6.6.4 - Demonstrate the ability to design a plan that includes strategies to monitor and attain personal health goals.

AASL Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning:
Standard 1: The student that is information literate accesses information efficiently and effectively.
Standard 2: The student who is information literate evaluates information critically and competently.
Standard 3: The student who is information literate uses information accurately and creatively
Standard 4: these students who is an independent learner is information literate and pursues information related to personal interests.
Standard 6: The student who is an independent learner is information literate and strives for excellence in informaiton seeking and knowledge generation.
Standard 9: The student who contributes positively to the learning community and to society is information literate and participates effectively to pursue and generate information

I have included the performance indicators for these standards that students should demonstrate prior to the completion of grade 8:
5. Apply productivity/multimedia tools and peripherals to support personal productivity, group collaboration, and learning throughout the curriculum.
6. Design, develop, publish, and present products using technology resources that demonstrate and communicate curriculum concepts to audiences inside and outside the classroom.
7. Collaborate with peers, experts, and others using telecommunications and collaborative tools to investigate curriculum-related problems, issues, and information, and to develop solutions or products for audiences inside and outside the classroom.
8. Select and use appropriate tools and technology resources to accomplish a variety of tasks and solve problems.
10. Research and evaluate the accuracy, relevence, appropriateness, comprehensiveness, and bias of electronic information sources concerning real-world problems.

Grade 2:
Health Academic Standard 2.1.9 - Explain basic health terms and concepts
For example, students should eat limited amout of food off of the top of the food pyramid and an abundance of food from the bottom of the pyramid.

AASL Information Standards for Student Learning:
Standard 1: The student who is information literate accesses information efficiently and effectively.
Standard 3: The student who is information literate uses information accurately and creatively.
Standard 6: The students who is an independent learner is information literate and strives for excellence in information seeking and knowledge generation.
Standard 9: The student who contributes positively to the learning community and to society is information literate and participates effectively to pursue and generate information.

I have included the performance indicators of these standards that students should demonstrate prior to completion of Grade 2:
1. Use input devices and output devices to successfully operate computers and other technologies.
2. Use a variety of media and technology resources for directed and independent learning activities
4. Use developmentally appropriate multimedia resources to support learning.
8. Create developmentally appropriate multimedia products with support from teachers, family members, or student partners.
9. Use technology resources for problem solving, communication, and illustration of thought.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Reflection on my Project

I believe that there are many strengths to my project.

  • I really liked the way I organized my Blog. I summarized what I learned about the process of inquiry through my own experience of working on this project. I also reflected on how I thought I could use what I learned to teach the inquiry process in my classroom. I think this organization scheme has added a lot of personal learning, not so much on nutrition, but on the inquiry process. Even though the focus of this project was on good nutrition and weight magagement, one of the products, the Blog, is a journal of our inquiry process. I believe that one of the main purposes of this project was to participate in the inquiry process so I can have a better understanding of the inquiry process. Therefore, I believe that the Blog product should not only reflect what we learned about our focus, but also about the inquiry process itself.
  • I thought that my descriptions of my activities in the Blog were well written and clearly illustrated what steps I was taking to complete my study on good nutrition and weight management.
  • I believe that my final product is a very useful tool for the audience (me) and clearly communicates what was learned during the project. It continually reminds me about everthing that is involved with good nutrition habits and weight management.
  • The graphic organizers I created to compare/contrast the food pyramids and to organize the information that I collected were chosen with thought and are used in the appropriate way to help me apply my information. They were well organized and easy to read.

I think I did well on this project. It is hard to think about the weaknesses of my project. I think that I could have found more information on this topic through several other sources. I found the information that I needed but I am sure there is certainly more information out there that could have helped me develop my understanding of my topic more.

There were certainly challenging moments to this project. I think the most challenging thing for me was organizing all of my printed pages from the web. It was challenging becuase I had to get the information in a manageable form. But, I overcame it! The next time I do an inquiry project, the idea of printing everything I find will be changed. I learned that taking notes as you go saves a lot of time and really helps you be organized.

I learned a lot about the inquiry process by completing this project. Entries in my Blog specifically state what I would change, focus on more/less, and absolutely do again if I was to participate in an investigation like this again and/or if I lead an investigation like this with my students. Some of these include:

  • Use graphic organizers whenever you can and have access and exposure to the many different kinds of graphic organizers.
  • Collaboration is very important and needs to be a diliberate part of the inquiry process. Collaboration can help with clarifying thoughts, processing/analyzing/synthesizing information, gathering new information, and can serve as a support structure to help one be successful.
  • Think ahead by planning out how you are going to do things before you do them, like searching for information, taking notes, creating a final product, sorting information, etc.
  • Reflect many times during the whole process, not just at the end. This process is naturally recursive and it helps you understand when you need to go back and do some things again or when you need to go to the next step beucuase you are finished.

Overall, I think this project was a very valuable experience personally and professionally. I think it was a great way for me to apply everything that we were learning in class and reading about into a real situation!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Final Product

What I did:
I was not really sure what I should do for my final product. I believe a product should communicate your findings to the intended audience. Well, the audience for this was me. I need to know about my findings so I can apply them to my weight management.

One of the things that I learned about plans/habits of people that have been successful at weight management and healthy eating is they all have kept a food journal. Even Christina said that it helps you become aware of how much you are eating and how much those “little extras” are actually a lot of extra calories. I thought that the best way for me to apply what I have learned is to make a journal. In that journal I need to write about the good nutrition and healthy habits that I have read about, which are: counting calories (to balance them), portion size determines calories and number of servings, balanced meals are key, there are a certain number of servings for each food group, you should drink at least 8 oz. of water a day, exercise boosts calorie output, eat at least every 3 – 5 hours to avoid binging, and plan meals ahead. To combine all of this, I created journal pages where I have to plan each meal, including snacks, out ahead of time. For each meal, I will count the calories and cross of the servings I am eating. For each meal, I will aim for a grain, protein, and veg/fruit. For each snack, I will aim for a grain or protein plus a veg/fruit. I will also track the amount of water I drink a day and the exercise I completed including approximate calories that were burned. To "think outloud" before I actually made it, I drew some pictures on paper to figure out what was going to be the best way to organize the journal page. By sketching out what I was trying to accomplish created a plan for me to follow when I was creating my journal pages in Word.

Click here for my finished journal pages: http://portfolio.iu.edu/kaabaker/final.project.doc

I will print these pages out and have them in my kitchen so I can plan my meals the night before. I will take that one slip of paper with me in my purse so I can add/subtract from it as necessary. I will hole punch my slips and put them into a journal to have a written record of my eating habits for weight management.

Another important portion of the final product is my Blog. It has allowed me to reflect on the experiences of a personal inquiry project as well as helped me focus my thoughts on the inquiry process, not just to the topic that I am learning about. This journal has allowed me to learn a great deal more about the inquiry process then if I had just produced one final product that displays what I had learned about my topics, nutrition and weight management. I believe that reflecting on the process helps develop independent and lifelong learning becuase the understanding how to use the process is more important then the actual topic. The I-Search model, developed by Macrorie, includes reflection on the process as part of the product. The final product needs to exibit these things: the questions, search process, what I have learned, and what it means to me. A journal, much like the one that I have done, allows for all of these things.

What I learned:
Start with the Audience first:
This will determine the success of your final product. I don't think my final product idea would have been successful if I hadn't realized that I was the intented audience. When I picked me as the audience, it really helped me focus on what I needed as a product. I needed a way to journal, so I made one. However, if I had skipped the audience focus, I would have probably just made a website about what I had learned, but...I already know what I have learned and that would not have been useful to me.
Have a plan for your product:
Even though my planning was very short, it organized my thoughts about how I wanted it to look and it organized what ideas I wanted to include. Even though this seems like an extra step, it really saves time in the end becuase making the product didn't take any time at all.

What I can apply to my teaching:
· Have a product planning worksheet for students to fill out that will get them to determine the audience, what the audience needs to know about their findings, ways to organize the appropriate information (in a list), and have a space for them to draw, write ideas on organization and design, and use it however they wish to help them create a plan for their product.
Incorporate a way for students to reflect on the process through part of the development on the final product.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Reviewing the results:

1. Have the most important questions been addressed?- Yes, I have answered most of my questions about good nutrition and healthy eating habits for weight management that have allowed me to answer my essential question: How do I develop healthy eating habits for weight management and for life?
2. Have any new questions arisen?- Yes. What are the best foods to have in my house to help promote healthy eating, especially when I am scrambling to make a meal? What do I need to make sure to shop for every week? These questions can easily be answered once I start eating this way as I will realize what I really need to have around to make my meals balanced.
3. Is there extra or repeated information that can be eliminated? No, it has already been eliminated when I was webbing.
4. Where there holes in my understanding? – I can’t think of any holes that I was aware of consciously. Talking with Kate cleared up any that I might have had.
5. Are there other ways to view the information or perspectives I should be considering?- This is a difficult question. I feel like I suppose to say yes, but I can’t really think of any ways.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Synthesis, without realizing it!

What I did:
I brought my information and webs over to Kate’s house to compare what I had found to what she was doing, LA Weight Loss. When I had talked to her about this meeting the day before, she mentioned that LA Weight Loss focused on eating a certain number of starches, proteins, vegetables, and fruits a day. While I was looking through my notes, I remembered that I hadn’t compared my food pyramids (USDA, Healthy Living, Mayo Clinic) yet and the food pyramids are based on the number of times you should eat the different food groups a day. It sounded similar to what she was doing and I was interested in how it compared.

We started by looking at the LA Weight Loss plan. She showed me the journal that they have to keep every day. She needs to record what she eats for breakfast, am snack, lunch, pm snack, and dinner. She also needs to check how many servings she has had of each food group. These three things confirmed some of the ideas that I found. There was one major thing missing from this idea, calorie count. I discovered through my research that calories are what causes you to gain/loose weight and a portion size is what determines the number of calories that you have eaten. The only thing that LA Weight Loss was concerned with was servings/portions of food groups. I realized that there are serving recommendations on each food pyramid. For example, you should have 6-11 servings of grains a day based on the USDA pyramid, at most meals on the Healthy Living Pyramid, 4-8 servings on the Mayo Clinic pyramid, and 2 servings with LA Weight Loss. Why were there different recommended serving on each chart? Well, the more I investigated, the serving were based on different levels of caloric intake. The Mayo Clinic was based on 1,200 calories a day, USDA was based on 2,000 calories a day, it wasn’t listed for the Healthy Living Pyramid and LA Weight Loss. Looking more closely at my tables, the USDA provided eating patterns at different caloric levels. Kate and I focused on the 1,600 caloric intake level because that is how much we though we were eating. By spreading all of these models on the floor, we realized that even though LA Weight Loss did not count calories, they were doing the same thing. LA Weight Loss restricts the number of servings you can have of food groups. That is how they are controlling the calories you eat without counting calories. The serving sizes for each food group seemed pretty comparable (I didn’t make a chart or anything, we were just eyeballing it), with the exception of the grain group.

I was still wondering about how LA Weight Loss only allows for 2 servings of grains when all the other ones want you to have at least one with each meal/snack. Kate was telling me about how you can eat certain things together and it counts as a protein, even when carbs are present. For example, if she has a bowl of cereal with milk, that is considered a protein, not a serving of grain and protein. She also mentioned that she has to eat two LA Lite bars a day that are like granola bars. The light bulb immediately went off. On LA Weight Loss she is still eating many servings of grains, but she is categorizing some of them as proteins and LA Lites. I guess I was so infatuated with grain servings more than any other because I did the Atkins diet last year that restricted a lot of grain from your diet.

The Healthy Living Pyramid actually has daily exercise at the bottom of the pyramid. Furthermore, LA Weight Loss has that as part of their daily journal. Through my research, I realized that weight gain occurs when your caloric intake is greater than the amount of calories you use. Exercise boosts caloric output, especially with the development of muscle, as muscle burns more calories than fat does.

I realized that with all of these plans, the idea is to make sure you are having balanced meals all day while watching your total caloric intake through portion control and exercise. Oh my gosh, did I figure out how to answer to my biggest question just by talking to Kate? (How do I develop healthy eating habits for weight management and for life?) I think I did! At the same time, I realized that I had all of the information that I needed. I was really excited and very motivated to get this all finished. I just needed to apply what I learned to figure out how I can apply it to me!

When I got home, I looked at the different diagram types and realized that a comparison matrix would be the best way to actually get the number of servings for each model down on paper so I could compare them more in-depth. I found this graphic organizer at http://www.graphic.org/commat.html. A comparison matrix helped me answer the questions of how the pyramids were alike in serving size and how they were different. Click here to see the matrix that I developed: http://portfolio.iu.edu/kaabaker/calorie.matrix.doc. In this matrix I averaged the high and low serving numbers to get a better handle on the number of servings I should have a day. I also then took the formula to determine the number of calories I should eat in a day at my weight level: (10cal/1lb) + (% of activity level) + (10% for digestion cals) = total calories. My total calories came out to be about 1,900 calories. To start to loose weight, I found that many people decrease their caloric intake by about 500 calories. That puts me at about 1,400 calories a day. In my matrix, I then included the number of servings per day I needed based on this calorie level. It came out pretty close to the averages that I calculated.

Synthesis, in the Research Cycle developed by Jamie McKenzie, is defined as looking for patterns or some kind of picture by arranging and rearranging the information until patterns and pictures begin to emerge. As I think back to everything that I have done to sythesize my information, I too have arranged and rearranged my information by talking with Kate, creating the two webs, and creating the comparison matrix. I believe that this rearranging really helped me view all of my information in different ways and allowed me to make connections that might not have been made otherwise.

What I learned:
Collaboration facilitated synthesis:
Kate and I both new a lot about nutrition and by talking about it we developed new questions that questioned the information that we had (like the number of grain servings). We answered these questions together by analyzing our data and making sense of all of the pyramids and the LA Weight Loss approach. After our conversation, I knew exactly what I needed to do to finish answering my overarching question.
Again, graphic organizers saved the day!
It allowed me to do an organized comparison on paper. It served as a very helpful visual for me to develop conclusions from.

What I can apply to my teaching:
· Students need to understand the value in collaboration. Some collaboration occurs naturally, but I think that there is an innate tendency in all of us to individualize projects where we are only involving ourselves. Students need to be given more opportunities to collaborate with their peers, teachers, and experts within the inquiry process, especially at this critical stage. This will be made a deliberate part of the inquiry process at several points.
· Students need to have access to graphic organizers, whether it is through a teacher scaffold or through students knowledge based on prior experiences using graphic organizers.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Finally Categorizing...through a Web

What I did:
Once my paper trail was under control, my notes were taken, and I found some more resources, the next logical step would be to finally web my information (the part I should have done when I was originally collecting it). I decided to give Inspiration a try as I figured out that doing it in Word was more trouble then it was worth. I made two different webs, one based on good nutrition and the other labeled “habits for weight management.” I looked at all of the types of diagrams that I could do to determine the one that best fits the information that I have. The ones that were most appealing were a cluster diagram (http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/score/actbank/tcluster.htm), a spider map (http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/score/actbank/tspider.htm), and a webbing diagram, (http://.eduscapes.com/tap/topic73.htm). I realized that they basically did the same thing: describe a central idea and map attributes of it in a hierarchical pattern. I decided to do a simple cluster diagram for each of my topics.

I started with good nutrition. I looked through all of my notes first to try to notice any similar ideas that I could group together. My key ideas were more or less based on the questions that I developed. When I was reading through my notes, the key words were glaring, like food pyramid, the parts of the food pyramid, and calories. I compared the information that I had on each key word to determine if the ideas were similar/different and if there was any new information that would add to these ideas. I built on each of these key ideas by selecting the information that was useful and organizing it by adding it into the web. The beauty of this process is that it is very flexible and you can move ideas around in your web to find the perfect fit for them. I discovered through webbing is that some of my questions were subquestions of others. Even though I had these questions separate, some could be connected under a more broad topic.

Once I got these secondary topics, the diagramming was easy. I did the same with habits for weight management. When I finished my diagrams, I felt very productive and I could start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was anxious to get it finished. I realize that the only information that I have not been able to classify is the food pyramids created by the USDA, MayoClinic, and Healthy Living. I just added these to the bibliography sheets with my notes on them to save for later! Click here to see my diagrams:
Good Nutrition: http://portfolio.iu.edu/kaabaker/good.nutrition.jpg
Habits for Weight Management: http://portfolio.iu.edu/kaabaker/habits.weightmgmt.jpg

I learned how to use Inspiration and I liked the ease of the program. You could essentially create a diagram as big as you want because you have unlimited page space. The one feature that I found to be awesome is “Diagram” where you can choose how to clean up your existing diagram. I played with it before I was finished, but when I did finish, it really cleaned up my diagram into a hierarchical format, which makes it much easier to read and identify the key ideas. The other great thing about Inspiration is the ability to turn your web into an outline. There are defiantly some benefits of looking at your information in outline view! The one drawback to this program is that not everybody has it, like Word, so it makes it a little bit more difficult to make changes to it.

I see a lot of merit to webbing my information later, rather than while researching. I still think it is important to take notes as you go, and categorize these notes with a question/idea. However, I found a big difference between my “notes” and the information in my web. My notes were sometimes in sentence form and at times, copied directly from the source. When I started to web my notes, I couldn’t put a whole sentence in it, so I transformed my sentences into words and phrases. Was I actually starting to process my information without realizing it? I also started to analyze my information without realizing it. I was looking at all the pieces as a whole, comparing it all, and looking for patterns on what key words to organize it by, what information to combine, and what information to keep separate. I think I did a great job because I really broke down all of my information and ideas to see how they were organized and related to each other. I was really feeling great about my project because it was all coming together.

While looking at my final webs, I saw major connections between the two diagrams through calories and the food pyramid. Both of my essential ideas, good nutrition and habits for weight management, cycle around the food pyramid and calories. My project was starting to develop connections that would be helpful in synthesizing my information to form new ideas.

What I learned:
Webbing is easy with the right program:
Inspiration really helped me expedite the classifying process. It was so easy to use and even easier to move things around even when you had already webbed it.
Webbing is easy once you find your key ideas:
it is important to find your key ideas before you start to web. It is a more natural process order and information really starts to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. If I was to classify while finding key ideas, I think some of my information would have been placed under the wrong heading because I only would have had a couple of key ideas to start with. This idea could easily be tied back to when I organized my questions in list format instead of a web.
Different webs for different purposes:
looking at all of the different types of diagrams really forced me to think about what types of relationships I need to make between my information. This process got me organized without even thinking about it. Selecting a type of diagram, and stating why, helped me understand what type of patterns to be looking for in my information when I was trying to classify it.
Webbing vs. Taking Notes:
taking notes is a good skill, but can lead to plagiarism. Webbing forces the information to be transformed into new forms, patterns, and relationships through notes being rewritten into words and phrases.
Webbing and processing/analyzing information:
Webbing forces the webber to process and analyze the information without them even knowing it. When information is transformed into new forms, patterns, and relationships, the information is being processed (compared, selected, organized) and analyzed.

What I can apply to my teaching:
· Graphic organizers, graphic organizers, and graphic organizers. Diagramming using graphic organizers is the way to get kids to start to think about the information and it forces them to process and analyze their information. Since processing and analyzing information seems to be one of the most difficult actions for students, they need to learn how beneficial a diagram can be during this stage. In order for students to learn this, they need to be exposed to many different types of diagrams for organization of information that will help them accomplish different things, like comparing/contrasting, classifying, cause and effect, etc. Students will need these scaffolds from me to help them put structure on their information.
· Make comparing, selecting, and organizing information a deliberate stage in the inquiry process through diagramming. Instead of the graphic organizer teaching students how to do these skills, students need to move from dependent practice with specific exercises and scaffolds, to more independent work where they use the diagram as a tool to help them organize what they have compared and selected.
· Make Inspiration and other tools available for students to use when they are diagramming. For example, if students are comparing, they could make a table in Word. But if they are webbing, like I did, Inspiration would work fine. These tools make diagramming easy to the effort is not in designing the diagram, but adding information to it.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Impromptu Interview

What I did:
I wanted to interview my friend, Christina, who had joined a weight loss/management group and had lost a lot weight and had kept it off. I really value her opinion because we both have the same body type-very muscular and muscle prone but also not naturally “skinny.” Well, I was planning on calling her, but she had called me first. I was not “officially” prepared to talk to her, but there was no sense in waiting. I asked her a general question to get the conversation going, “what did you change in your diet to lose your weight.” She mentioned some things that I had already read about, including switching to whole grains, paying attention to portion size, eating balanced meals, and snacking more frequently. She also added that because she is not working anymore, she does not have a daily schedule, which has caused her to slip back into some old habits. Because I had already done a lot of research on this and had taken notes, I was able to ask her more specific questions about the process that I had questions about from my research. One big question that I had was about counting calories as that was a big focus of a lot of information that I found. She said she did not count calories, but because she was a label reader before she bought anything, the calories weren’t a big issue. She was more concerned with the amount of added sugar, whole grains, and serving sizes. Another major idea that emerged from my research was that journaling your food intake will really make you aware of what and how much you are eating. When I brought that up, she concurred with that and said that it really made her aware of all the extra stuff she was eating, but also the portions that she was eating. She said she would take a Tupperware full of spaghetti for lunch the next day until she realized that she was taking about 4 cups of spaghetti when a ½ cup is a serving size. A lot of what she said was confirming of research, but it was great to hear it from someone who applied it to their life and it worked. It made it more real, not just “researched.” I did not write much of the information down that we talked about because most of it I already had.

In the grocery store after our conversation, I found the magazine “Fitness (March, 2005),” and written on the cover was “16 all-time best weight-loss tips from women who kept it off.” I just had to buy it, justifying the purchase as researchJ It was really interesting reading what worked for these women and how it compared to the research that I had done and my conversation with Christina. I really enjoyed reading about their biggest temptations, some of which included Baskin Robbins ice-cream, chocolate, bread, cheesecake. What I enjoyed the most about these temptations was that they were ok, and they gave into them, in moderation. It made me feel like I really had a chance at being successful at eating healthy because these same temptations that I was having were actually ok, and normal.

Then, believe it or not, I was at my friends house that night hanging out on her couch and there, on top of her magazine pile, was “People” from January 10, 2005. On the cover was the title “Half their size! No Gimmicks! No Surgery! Just real people, real diets, real secrets.” I couldn’t believe it. I immediately picked it up and started reading it. I realized that I am now interested in anything that has to do with my topic because I have background knowledge in it and I want to learn as much as I can. Talk about a motivated researcher!

What I learned:
Before you interview, develop good background knowledge:
If I hadn’t completed the research that I had, there was no way that I could have talked with Christina about good nutrition, I would have been a passive participant. Further, without my background knowledge, I wouldn’t have been able to connect what she had said and apply it to a question that I had. I probably would have just said “Ok” and then looked at my list of questions and asked the next one.
Primary Sources/Testimonials make information come to life! I related to Christiana when I talked to her. They both made me feel more connected to the information that I was collecting.
Keep a watchful eye:
It seemed that everywhere I went and anything that I was watching had to do with this topic…it was really weird. I must have been more in tune with nutrition because I was thinking about it more and before now, not realizing how many beneficial sources were around me. It made me feel like I was being called to this topic and that I am glad I chose it.

What I can apply to my teaching:
· Students must conduct at least one interview for a project. It is a great way for them to start to pull together their information and make their topic come to life!
· Students will Read, Watch, Ask, Do, and in that order. Much research should be completed before one interviews. They are there to help clarify, extend, and connect.
· Collect sources in a non-traditional way by keeping a watchful eye wherever you go.


1. What search approach have I taken? Has it been successful? – I started with the Internet becuase I had found a great website through the Tufts web page. Through it I found many other websites that had a lot of information that was useful for my project. I feel that it has been successful because I have information that will answer many of my questions I had about good nutrition and weight management.
2. What search terms did I use? What was the most effective?- I haven’t used any search terms yet in this stage. All of the websites have come from the Tufts websites, Nutrition Navigator. To find the Nutrition Navigator before I started this project, I searched for “good nutrition” in Google.
3. What types of information do I have? - I have lots of different types. I have a lot of researched facts from the USDA and MayoClinic. I have opinions that came from primary sources. I have gained multiple perspectives from all of these sources.
4. What formats of information did I use? – Since I went on my printing frenzy, the majority of my sources are in print format now, but came from web pages, with some from magazines. I have several tables, charts, and graphs from the USDA and MayoClinc as well as a live interview.
5. What have I learned? – I have learned a lot of great information. Through scanning and skimming, there are some key ideas that stick in my mind:
a. always try to eat whole grains, they are a good source of fiber.
b. A balanced meal comes from the food pyramid
c. Calories is what causes you to gain and loose weight. I need to find a balance in the number of calories I consume in to the number that I burn off in a day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Finally Finding Information...and taking lots of notes

What I did:
I started researching using the nutrition navigator that I found when I was searching around on the Internet at the very beginning of my project.

URL: http://navigator.tufts.edu/
It was created by the Tufts School of Nutrition Science and Policy (a very reliable source). The reason why I started with this website was because of its purpose: a rating guide to nutrition websites. It has a very comprehensive list of nutrition websites organized in categories. The categories I used were Women, General Nutrition, and Weight Management.

I found a lot of amazing things through this portal…and I was really excited. I recorded the bibliography information and evaluated the sites. I was skimming and scanning to determine what information would be useful, in any or if all. Since there was so much useful information on each page, I decided to print the pages that had good information on them so I could work on them at a later time instead of taking notes right then and there. I stapled the printed pages to the cover sheet to make sure to keep them all together.

Here are the websites that were most helpful to me in gathering information:
URL: http://www.dietitians.ca/english/index.html
This was created by the Dietitians of Canada to promote health through food and nutrition.

URL: http://www.mayoclinic.com/
This was developed by the Mayo Clinic who’s mission is to empower people to manage their health. They accomplish this by providing useful and up-to-date information and tools that reflect the expertise and standard of excellence of Mayo Clinic.

URL: http://www.brighamandwomens.org/healthweightforwomen/default.asp
This site is sponsored by Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Health-e-Weight for Women is a collection of information geared at making life changes in several areas that can contribute to your quality of life: your food, your emotions and feelings about food, and physical activity.

URL: http://health.ivillage.com/
This site is sponsored by iVillage, The Internet for Women. It has many sections, like a magazine, including heath and fitness.

URL: http://www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines
This site is sponsored by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and features the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005. This is only published every 5 years, and so it is very current!

URL: http://www.intelihealth.com/
This is sponsored by InteliHealth, a division of Aetna (the insurance carrier) and reviewed by Harvard Medical School.

Well…after all was said and done, everything was stapled, I sure had a lot of papers! But I did have some cool graphs and charts! I wanted to start sorting this information into a folder, but quickly found that these two topics are so closely tied together that the information from one source could easily be placed in both folders. With my organization scheme, I couldn’t place information from one site into both folders. So, I scrapped the folder idea and started sifting through this information and writing actual notes on the cover sheet so I would end up with one page per website. This proved to be helpful with eliminating a lot of the paper mess, but I still had some great charts and graphs, so I kept them stapled to each cover. In the end, I ended up with cover sheets including notes from each of these websites with attached documents that were too good to toss. Click here for an example:
Front - http://portfolio.iu.edu/kaabaker/notes.front.jpg
Back - http://portfolio.iu.edu/kaabaker/notes.back.jpg

What I discovered when I was reading through all of these websites (in printed form!), which ended up being very tedious, was that I had a lot of the same information. It was great because it really confirmed that the information that I was collecting was accurate. However, what a waste of paper and time! If only I had taken notes when I got to a site, I would have realized when I got to the next site that I already had that information. I wouldn’t have spent nearly the amount of time with it that I was spending with all of this “same” information. This made the “note taking” process feel even more tedious and laborious!

What I learned:
Boy do you get excited when you are finding good stuff:
I was addicted to finding great information. I couldn’t get enough of it…and so I kept printing it. This part was really motivating and I didn’t want to stop to take notes.
Takes notes as you go!:
I wasted a lot of time in two ways: in developing a search strategy that I didn’t follow and not following my search strategy by printing everything that I found relevant and worth taking notes on. I really like my organization scheme for bibliography information and evaluation of sources, however, I am not sure how effective it is to take notes on them and classifying the notes at the same time. I will end up working with the information three times(printing, taking notes, and classifying) because I can’t sort it into folders now so I will have to sort the information later. Critically important to the Research Cycle, developed by Jamie McKenzie, is that the findings are structured as they are gathered. I think, organizationally, that this is more important than using the notes section on my cover sheet. The notes section was very limiting because I wanted to sort my information into my two categories, but I couldn’t. However, if I would have taken chunks of notes and sorted them as I went, I would have easily been able to tell what information I already had already collected, and I could have skipped over that information on other web pages. The big question remains, how do you know which information comes from what source? The Pre-Search process, developed by Virginia Rankin, requires student’s note cards keyed to all resources to answer that question. In my case, I could have sorted the chunks of information and number the chunk according to the source it came from.
Revise search plan as necessary:
Even though I did not classify my information when I recorded it, I still was flexible in that I changed my original search plan when I realized that the folder idea was not working. I made it work to some extent in the end by simply taking notes from the information that I collected onto the cover sheet. These weren’t deliberate revisions, I think that it was innate to make it work for what I had and I just made it work.
The Internet isn’t so bad: So far, all of my information is from the Internet. I am feeling a bit uneasy about this because I feel like I should have gone to other resources. But, I realized that it isn’t bad because it has given me the information that I need, especially current information like the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005.

What I can apply to my teaching:
· Taking notes and classifying as you go is very important. This needs to be a deliberate part of the process that my students will take part in whenever they are gathering information. I like the original idea I tried to follow where students will put note cards in an envelope labeled by question/idea. Even as note cards seem very archaic, it might be beneficial for students to participate in the “physical” part of placing information in categories several times before graduating to creating a web or making a list under the questions/ideas. As students are connecting information to questions/ideas, they will also be connecting information to sources (bibliography information will be written on the cover sheet that I developed) through numbering, color coding, etc.
· Provide scaffolding for students in revising search plans when they aren’t working and developing changes that will make it work.
· The Internet is a great place to find information, you just have to know how and where to look for it and/or find the right portal. I found the right portal, but I also knew how to look for it. Lessons need to be incorporated into most projects to strengthen students searching abilities on the Internet. It is also important to create a starting point for students, like a pathfinder. Having quality sites to go to will get them excited, like I was, when they find pertinent information.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Getting organized

What I did:
I was really excited on staring to research. I realized that I wouldn’t be around a computer every second that I was working on this project, so I wanted to use a way that would allow me to continue to work no matter where I was. I decided to come up with a way to record/sort information before I got started. I remembered the folder idea that was used as part of the Pre-Search method. Students were distributed folders with four envelopes glued inside. They wrote their questions on the three envelopes and bilbliography on another. A note card could not be filed in an envelope unless it related to the question on the front. This was mentioned in “Pre-Search” by Virginia Rankin in School Library Journal (March 1992, 38(3), 168). I wanted to develop something like that. I had two main ideas (nutrition facts and habits for weight management) that I was organizing my project around. So, I labeled two folders, each with one main idea on it. I also wanted to collect bibliographic information as I went so I didn’t have to go back and do it all at the end. I developed a cover page for all of my information that required the record of bibliographic data, but also to evaluate the source. View this document at http://portfolio.iu.edu/kaabaker/bibliography.record My plan is to collect the data on this cover sheet for each source so I won’t have a ton of papers flying around. I would then place each sheet in the corresponding folders.

I was feeling very organized and I was very excited to begin my research. I felt like I had all my ducks in a row and I was ready to begin!

What I Learned:
Organization is key (again!): I truly believe that with a storage system already in place around key ideas, categories, and/or questions, students can focus on doing sound research, rather than researching and trying to organize a mess of papers at the same time. It is too hard to do a quality job on both at the same time. By separating these two processes, hopefully it will alleviate some of the strain of doing sound research.

What I can apply to my teaching:
• I think as students get older, the more you can allow them to organize in the way that they wish. The key is to give students the opportunity to use a multitude of ways to organize when they are younger, so when students are older, they will have the background to make a good decision in how to organize their research. Therefore, for my younger students I will try to develop ways for them to organize their information and actually make it a part of the process in their projects. When they are older, it still will be emphasized as an important part of the process, but it will be an independent part where they have more say in how it takes place.

Planing a Search Strategy

What I did:

I am still using my questions in list format at this point. I asked myself, “what types of information do I need?” I had forgotten what types of information there was. I referred back to the list in the webbing stage and was like, “duh.” Different types of information might include current, multiple perspectives, fact/opinion, and/or primary/secondary sources. For some reason, this was a difficult task, partially because I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. I wrote down the type of information I would need next to the questions. I needed to find more facts and less opinions, current information, multiple perspectives, as well as primary and secondary sources.

I moved onto determining my sources. I immediately wrote down the Internet and magazines (there are always success stories in “Fitness,” and other health magazines). I wanted to try the Read-Watch-Ask-Do method from the I-Search, created by Virginia Rankin. It was wonderful! It was very easy to think of sources because I was thinking in categories (smaller chunks). Below my list of questions I categorized my sources: Read (Internet, Magazines, Journals, Books); Watch (“Supersize Me,” “Losing It!” – a Dateline news story, “Biggest Loser”); Ask (Nutritionist/Dietician, Christina Epperson – she is a part of a weight loss group, Kate Shively – she is doing LA Weight Loss); Do (go to a nutritionist, visit a hospital that has weight management programs).

By categorizing my sources in these categories, I also categorized the resource formats without even thinking about it. For each category, I wrote down what format it would take as well as how I will record that format or what I would have to do: Read (text format; underline and highlight); Watch (Digital; take notes as it is spoken); Ask (Interview; come up with questions). At this point, I really felt like I was getting somewhere and doing something with a purpose. Oh my gosh…was I starting to think ahead!

To identify my key words, I used my questions as the basis. In each question, I underlined the subject to determine exactly what I was looking for. Click here to look at my list of questions and underlined key words (http://portfolio.iu.edu/kaabaker/questions.doc) I organized these around the 5ws and Hs. I felt very organized when I was finished. Because I felt organized, I also felt like this project might be successful after all!

What I learned:

Did I use “type of information?”:
I did not use type of information in any way because I wasn’t forced to and I didn’t really see a need to. It should have been used to persuade me in determining the sources I should use. As I was looking back to other models, the Big6, developed by Eisenberg and Berkowitz, has a step that prioritizes sources. I didn’t do that either. However, I guess if I would have prioritized my sources, I could have based my priority ranking on the types of information I needed. That way I would have gone to the one that might have provided all of the criteria first (current, primary or secondary, factual, and multiple perspectives) and then moved onto the next that might have only had 3 out of the 4 criteria.
Read, Watch, Ask, Do:
A great way to help think of all possible resources. I learned that by breaking sources up into smaller, specific chunks, it was much easier to think of sources. Plus, once I thought of one sources in that category, it seemed like the rest just kept on flowing.
Categorizing Helped Me Think Ahead:
determining what format I was receiving information in actually forced me to think about how I was going to record the information that I gathered.
Organization is key!:
I think I would have been fine without organizing my key words, but then again, I am lucky I didn’t have a gazillion questions. I think that by sorting them into the 5ws and Hs really helped me focus on what I was trying to find out about each of these key words – is it how? Why? Who?. That might really be helpful in determining what research will be beneficial during skimming and scanning.

What I can apply to my teaching:
· Use Read, Watch, Ask, Do, as a way for them to think of and organize their sources. It helps students think in categories.
· In procedure form, have students do Read, Watch, Ask, Do first. Students will list all possible sources that they think will be beneficial to their research. Moving toward prioritizing sources, students will determine the different types of information that they need and analyze each source for what types of information they provide. To prioritize, students will match up sources with the type of information that need. I am even thinking that students should number the sources in order of importance so that they will automatically have a couple of places to start.
· After students select what sources they might use, they will have to determine what format that information will come in, if they will have to prepare for it (like an interview), and how they will have to record what they have learned from it.
· Students will look at their questions, determine the key words, and organize them by the 5ws and Hs.

Friday, February 11, 2005


Select a topic: How do I develop healthy eating habits for weight management throughout life?

What topics are you considering? Why? – I am considering both healthy eating/good nutrition and weight management for life. Although this makes a large project, I can’t see separating them. They are individual ideas, but how can you have weight management without researching good nutrition habits and vica versa. I want the whole picture, and just studying one will not get me the whole picture.

What’s appealing about this topic? – I have never been severely overweight, but I haven’t been skinny my whole life either. I don’t really understand how to eat well to maintain a healthy weight. I have tried different “diets,” but it has been temporary for me. This topic is appealing because when one understands good nutrition, it can become a lifestyle, not just something that is done to get ready for swimsuit season.

Is the topic likely to hold my interest? Yes, for reasons outlined in 3.

Is the topic useful in addressing the requirement of the project? Yes. To perform an inquiry project, it is led by personal interest, and this is of personal interest to me.

Is their sufficient information on the topic available locally or will remote resources be necessary? Well, with my diversion at the beginning on the Internet, I discovered that there is a lot of information on this topic…and the Internet is readily accessible to me.

Finding Focus

What I did:

When I looked at my list of questions, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. In fact, I just wanted to get on with researching since I had guiding questions. The wondering phase seemed to be getting a little bit tedious. But, I remembered at the beginning that I jumped right in and starting researching, and I realized how unorganized it became really quickly. So I decided to keep plugging away! Since the list was working for me, and a very fluid structure, where I could cut and paste however I wanted. I started with the question “what is good nutrition?” to serve as a general definition seeking question. I looked at the other questions to determine if some would fit under this category. I found a lot. I classified this as an essential question and placed the more specific questions that fell within that category with it. I still had several questions left. When I read them, I realized that they all had to do with weight management. I turned this into an essential question and classified the questions that fell under this category, which ended up being all of them. With only two essential questions, I had my small chunks to work with to narrow my topic. However, I wanted to learn the big picture, so I broadened these two questions to make one overarching question to serve as my thesis. Click on this link to look at my thesis, two essential ideas, and supporting questions (http://portfolio.iu.edu/kaabaker/questions.doc).

I think it is important to develop a thesis or one summative essential question. It provides an overall view to guide research. The REACTS model, developed by Stripling and Pitts, includes the development of a thesis or statement of purpose. However, it occurs before the formulation of questions, not afterwards, like the way I did it. I think forming a thesis after all of the questions have been formulated worked well becuase it forced me to think about the whole picture, not just the small chunks in the form of questions.

I was originally frustrated because it was hard to get started, but when everything pulled together, I started to feel excited because I could see where my project was going…I had a focus! I also felt productive because I accomplished something that will get me somewhere. I was really motivated to get on with my research…I wanted to jump right in and start, so I had to hold myself back and work with the procedure. (This is the third time now that I have been tempted to get researching without finishing the “presearch”)

What I learned:

The meshing of steps:
Without thinking about it, the “Connecting to Prior Knowledge,” “Finding Focus,” and “Narrowing Topic,” all came together as one step. Through subconscious prior knowledge, my questions were organized under broader topics. Without my prior knowledge, I might have never classified portion size under healthy eating, and I might not have even known what the food pyramid was. Further, while finding focus, I also narrowed my topic at the same time by breaking down my questions into two distinct sections. Pathways to Knowledge, developed by Pappas and Tepe, call this "mesh" Exploring Relationships. Students define questions, cluster, outline, listing, webbing, or narrowing/broadening.
Question structure aids finding focus:
I found one of my two essential questions within my existing questions. If I left it in web form, it would have been hard for me to notice this because it was connected to nutrition at the same level as all the others. Having my questions in a list disconnected them a bit and let me move them around by cutting and pasting while grouping them together under larger ideas.
The tendency to quickly jump into researching still exists:
I just wanted to get on with it. This presearch seemed tedious. However, I see so much value in following the wondering procedure as I did. I am much more focused. But, it took much restraint from following my innate tendency to research first and then find focus. It occurred to me that I was probably taught this way as a kid.

What I can apply to my teaching:
· It will want to try joining “connecting prior knowledge,” “finding focus,” and narrowing topic,” to exploring relationships. While finding focus, students will be eliciting prior knowledge while narrowing their topic down into smaller chunks of questions grouped by a broader issue. Students will then be asked to come up with one essential question or thesis that will summarize their overall project.
· In whatever way students decided to organize their brainstormed questions, I will have to provide individual scaffolds for them to be successful at finding focus. I will want to help them develop skills in determining if their organization will be fluid enough to reorganize questions, and if it isn’t, what are better ways to organize their questions to draw out their essential and overarching questions.
· At this stage of a project, there will have to be a procedure for students to follow so that they don’t just jump into researching. I did not understand its value until I actually completed the whole wondering stage. Students will be the same way. At first, they will have to be forced to complete some of these steps for them to understand why it is important. With more experience, students will hopefully be more independent in choosing to participate in this important stage of the inquiry process.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


What I did:

I decided to web my questions in a clustering format. I wrote them down at first on paper. I came up with some questions initially. I felt frustrated because I felt like I didn’t have enough ideas. I guess I just figured that the questions I had would come easily to me since I knew a little bit about what I wanted out of this topic. Here are the questions that I came up with:
· What is good nutrition?
· How do I develop a healthy eating plan for life?
· Why do you gain/loose weight?
· Why do some people not have to worry about it?
· How do diets reflect the food pyramid?
· What does the pyramid actually look like?

Since I jumped to the conclusion immediately that this was not working, I jumped into ThinkTank.com. I really liked the idea of that web tool. What I discovered was that my topic did not fit into their preselected topics (believe it or not, as I think their overarching topics are very broad). I tried to make it work as a “system” and a “philosophy,” but the questions to choose from were too much of a stretch for nutrition. I proceeded on because I wanted to see what would happen after selecting some initial questions. I used the “system” topic and developed these questions: What are the parts of the system? What do they look like?; What are the most critical parts of the system? Why do you think these are more critical than others? Then I found the prompt section, and I fell in love with ThinkTank! The prompts that they provided, even when they are just one or two words, really helped me develop more questions for myself. In fact, I think I developed more questions using the prompts at ThinkTank than when thinking on my own. Here are the questions that I developed:
· Why might it be difficult to keep up good nutrition?
· How many different kinds of plans are there to follow good nutrition?
· Who has developed good nutrition plans?
· How do you determine portion size?
· How do you read a food label and determine nutritional content? What are you looking for?
· When is the best time to snack?
· When might I fail?

I felt like I was getting somewhere. Plus, the more I thought about it, the more questions I came up with (make sure to mention what I learned about questioning over time). Here are the questions that I added after thinking about it for a while (They actually came to me when I was driving, or at other times when my mind was wondering):
· How much water should I drink a day?
· For my body, what should I be doing?
· What is the difference between Nutrition and the Atkins diet?
· Are other people thinking about it like me?
· What is the correlation with good nutrition/eating and exercise?

After writing these questions down, I realized I had a lot of lines and circles connecting to one idea, nutrition, but none of them individually connected to any other thing. I didn’t really know how to make these connect to each other because it was lacking focus. I continued on by trying to make a web in Word, thinking that I could try harder to connect them there. The reason why I didn’t complete my web in Inspiration is that I didn’t have it at home and there would be no way for me to continue to work on it without the Inspiration software. While creating a flowchart in Word, I realized that it was a chore, more trouble than it was worth, and plain and simple, it just wasn’t working. Therefore, since they weren’t connected anyways, I just typed my questions into a list format.

What I learned:

Brainstorming questions vs. finding focus:
I immediately started to web my questions because that was what I had been reading about and just thought it was the way to do it. It ended up being rather frustrating to me because my webbing in fact wasn’t the easiest way to do it, in this case, or it wasn’t the easiest way for me. By typing it as a list of questions, it was easier because I wasn’t forcing myself to organize my questions. I learned that I was trying to find a focus while brainstorming, and that is not the point of brainstorming. I learned that webbing is not always the answer and that simply making a list, even though it is just a list, is more productive, less frustrating, and less confusing, when brainstorming questions.
(mind tools???)
Questioning prompts:
Well…isn’t it easy to come up with questions that relate to a topic? It sounds much easier that it actually is. I truly understand why kids look at you like “I don’t know,” because I truly, at some points, didn’t know. Going to ThinkTank really helped me branch out in my thinking. I realized that it is very important to have prompts, whether specific or general, to get the thinking flowing. However, I also realized the value in struggling with questioning first because it helps you come up with the obvious questions first. The prompts then elicited prior knowledge that I didn’t know about, and really helped me develop great questions.
Questioning over time:
I initially thought that the questions would just come to me when I sat down at 2:00 and thought about them. I realized that is totally not the case. Questioning needs to occur over time. In fact, great questions comes to you when you aren’t expecting them. Even futher, I think by sitting down at 2:00 to think of questions puts more pressure on questioning than it does when you are just wondering about the topic for a while.

What I can apply to my teaching:
· Let brainstorming be brainstorming and not forcing students to start to find focus while brainstorming. To enable this, I will not mention anything about organization of their questions. Students can just organize their questions however they wish, through lists or webbing. By letting them choose, it will be a much more natural way for them to document their thinking, not forced into some format that will make the questioning process awkward for them.
· Questioning prompts are a must. Whether they are the simple, 5Ws and Hs, or going to ThinkTank, it will really help students think outside of the box and get the questions flowing more freely.
· Time and time again I ask students to accomplish a task at one time, including questioning. Keeping a journal with them or asking them at different times, and in frequent intervals will keep them thinking about the project, even when they aren’t in my classroom.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Wondering 1 - Finding Purpose

Finding Purpose:
I really found that guiding questions really helped me through this step. I looked at Lamb's guiding questions in 8Ws: Why are you working on this project? Is it for pleasure? Do you have a particular problem to solve or question to answer? It occured to me after thinking about these questions that I am doing a school project (much like kids are), however, becuase I have decided on my own topic that is important to me, I am thinking less "becuase I have to," and more "I am wondering about it." Furthermore, I do have a particular self-directed problem to solve: I am gaining weight just after losing 20 lbs on the Atkins diet. However, instead of this being my focus, I have related this problem to good nutrition so I can learn how to eat correctly while maintaining my weight. So really, I am investigating an idea at this point.

During this stage I felt a bit uneasy. I felt like I should have been doing more than figuring out the purpose, but I suppose it is becuase I am so used to jumping right into research, which has already happened, that it is hard for me to just sit and think about my project. After I had determined the answers to the questions, my project seemed really large, which was scary becuase it is something that I really want to do, but I am under a time constraint. Do I ditch my interesting project idea for the simple reason of time? Well, this question motivated me a bit because, yes, I certainly wanted to do my interesting topic, but I needed to get moving. But, I found myself procrastinating again becuase I knew I didn't have enough uniterrupted time to get all my thoughts down.

I can see how long periods of time for children is very beneficial in inquiry projects. Once you get moving and making progress, you really don't want to stop. I see students 30 minutes at a time, and gosh, it is even hard for me to work when I know I only have 30 minutes. I will have to think about this more!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Idea for organization

As I was finishing Skyhopper 4, an idea occured to me as to how I can organize my metacognative thoughts as well as what I am learning. I created a chart in Word that lists all of the steps in Wondering (I will do this for the rest of them when I am at that point). I was looking at the different types of journals from the Watching stage and realized that I could motfiy them to fit my needs. The ones that really interested me where the Metacognitive Journal ( http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/score/actbank/tmeta.htm) that explores what I learned and how I learned it, the Reflective Journal (http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/score/actbank/treflect.htm) that explores what happened, how I felt, and what I learned, and the Synthesis Journal (http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/score/actbank/tsynth.htm) that explores what I did, what I leanred, and how I can use it. Putting these three ideas together, I created my own journal that illustrates each step of the Wondering process that have the headings: What I did/What happened?, How did I feel?, What I learned?, and How I learned it?/How can I use it?. Anyways, I know we should be blogging as we go, but when I do some of these steps, I am not going to be near a computer, so I wanted a way to write down my thoughts and ideas as I go so I can have a record of them. I am anticipating my next entry to be about the Wondering stage...

Caio Chow...

I have finally found my topic!

I have been thinking for a while about this, and it has actually been a weight on my shoulders. I just didn't know what I wanted to do for my project. I also am understanding that as a procrastinator, I am starting to fall behind in this, which is also causing the weight to increase. But, alas, I have finally decided what my overarching theme will be for this project. To keep the suspense high, I will outline how my decision was made:

  • Conversation at lunch: I was explaining to some teachers at lunch about this project and they were interested in what my topic was going to be. I explained my two choices, Nutrition and Landscaping. The conversation started with landscaping becuase their eyebrows rose so I had to explain the whole situation of Brent and I redoing our deck and backyard this spring. The conversation quickly turned to nutrition and one of my coworkers started to tell a story about someone who went to see a nutritionist and they did all sorts of blood work to help work up a nutrition plan for her body. It seemed to work for her. Then another coworked chimed in about his mother-in-law and how she took a class at a hospital? that taught her what types of meat to get, how to shop in a grocery store, and general nutrition guidlines. This really peaked my interest beucase one of my biggest questions for eating well is how to shop in a grocery store. So, overall, the conversation really focused on nutrition.
  • My revertion to old ways: in my last blog entry, I talked about how I quickly ran onto the Internet to see what was out there, started printing, and found myselft with great websites, but not at all organized and focused yet. However, thinking about my topics, I immediatly jumped right into Nutrition without even realizing it. I started reading quickly and taking everything...I was very interested. I don't think I even looked at landscaping to tell the truth! Anyways, as I said, I started to make a web of ideas/questions that I had for each topic, and once again, I started with Nutrition.

Therefore, it seems like unconsiously I am quickly jumping into Nutrition without giving Landscaping another thought! Furthermore, whenever I have been thinking about this project (in the car, trying to fall asleep, when I should be doing other things), it has always been about nutrition. Therefore, I have decided to follow my mind's "gut feeling" and go with Nutrition. I think that I have a great interest in it and the application of what I learned will far outweigh the short-term application of Landscaping. Although this is a short-term project, I feel that if I don't follow what is really interesting to me, then I will procrastinate even more, as well as be always thinking about Nutrition when I should be focusing on Landscaping.

Topic: Nutrition

Plan of Action: Move into the Wondering stage and do some brainstorming about it to get a more narrow and applicable focus.

...Ciao Cow (from a student's mouth)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Returning to Old Ways

Well, as I am contemplating the topics, I find myself jumping right into finding information. My itent was to get an overview, but I am printing things out, and now I find myselft lost in too much, unorganized information with no focus on where I am headed...and better yet, I haven't even decided on my topic yet! It is easy for me to see now, how beneficial a focused topic with key words/questions and a search plan actually. So, I am back to the drawing board. I am going to make a web of what I know already, skim some resources to determine what topic will be the best and that can be finished in the time allotted, determine what my topic is, and then formulate a plan from there.

One interesting thing that I didn't find in any of the models was the collection of possible resources when reading for an overview. I have come across some great websites that I am bookmarking that I can use later when I am actually looking for information. So, I think I will continue to collect sources as I go to see how it works. Who knows, I might end up with a ton of them and then I will be bogged down with sources...but it can't hurt to try!

See you later alligator!

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Beginning...

Well, I have been giving a lot of thought to my inquiry project and the possible topics that I could study. I have found it difficult to come up with things for this project because when I usually participate in the inquiry process myself, it is usually for a specific reason with a specific topic in mind. I guess I now understand why kids sometimes have difficulty doing open ended things like this. Anyways, the two possible topics are:

  • Gardening/Landscaping - we have worked extensively on the inside of our house last year, so this year we are planning on putting in a new deck and work on the landscape our our backyard to improve our drainage problem and make our fence look a little better. So, since I don't know much about gardening and landscaping, I was thinking of coming up with a landscaping plan for our backyard. I really am interested in the different kind of plants and shrubs, as well as flowering plants, that are tall and can camoflauge our chain-link fence, but also thrive in the shade. I am also thinking of making raised beds against our fence.
  • Nutrition - last year I started the Atkins diet and lost about 20lbs. I felt great and have managed to keep most of it off. However, it is very hard to make a life-long habit and probably not the most nutritious thing to do in the long run. So, I really want to learn how to eat properly. There are many different diets that you can choose from, and I want to investigate those, plus learn from nutrionists so I can really understand what it means to have a balanced diet and how to create good eating habits for my life. It is also important to me so that I can teach my kids, when I have them, how to eat well and make good diet decisions.

I am not sure which one I will chose yet, but I am thoughtfully considering both. Well, until next time....