Facilitator Notes


General Suggestions for Leading a PLC about the Lesson: (These suggestions remain the same throughout all the lessons in Nonfiction Inquiry. See Specific Suggestions for this lesson below.)

  • Facilitator Preparation for the Session:
    • Read (or review) the Unit Plan in Supporting Documents, and the “Purpose of the Lesson” segment online, to understand how this lesson fits into the overall Inquiry Unit.
    • View the clips, decide on your own responses to the questions, and anticipate other possible responses from colleagues. Then review the suggested responses in the “Facilitator Notes.” Please note that the questions and responses given are suggestions only. Your insights and those of your teachers will shape the most meaningful discussions.
    • A Teacher Commentary video clip accompanies some of the lesson clips. In this Commentary, the teacher of the lesson provides her own insights into the segment of the lesson. We recommend viewing the Commentary after the discussion of each lesson segment.
    • You may want to download some of the Supporting Documents and copy them for use in the session. There is also a transcript available for each lesson.


  • During the Session:
    • Give teachers time to read the Unit Plan in Supporting Documents, and read the “Purpose of the Lesson” segment online. Discuss how this lesson contributes to the unit as a whole. Usually a “Prior to the Lesson” segment will aid you in doing this. You may want to refer to the four phases of inquiry and where this lesson falls within that process.
    • Before viewing each video clip, note the “Segment Focus” and “Questions” for the segment.
    • As you view each video clip, encourage teachers to take notes related to the focus question but also about their own questions, ideas, and thoughts.
    • After viewing each clip, have teachers turn and talk with colleagues about what they noticed, their questions and other reflections. Then lead a whole group discussion about the segment.
    • If there is a Teacher Commentary about the lesson segment, view and discuss it.


  • Concluding the Session:
    • Discuss how the session supports teachers’ current efforts or plans for their own inquiry units, what additional support is needed, and how you can facilitate that support.

Specific Suggestions for Grade 1 Water Pollution Unit, Lesson 1:

“Infer Information from Photographs” – Possible Responses to Questions
Please note that the questions and the responses given are suggestions only. Your insights and those of your teachers will shape the most meaningful discussions.

Prior to the Lesson: How did students build background knowledge and motivation about the topic in the previous lessons of the inquiry? See Student Work Samples – Previous Lessons

Before watching the Teacher Commentary and viewing Student Work Samples, you may want to revisit the Preparation video clips in Introduction to Inquiry. Ms. Whitman explains how she introduced nonfiction and nonfiction reading strategies to her students earlier in the year. Artifacts from these earlier lessons are also included.

  • The teacher chose to approach earth science standards about the conservation of natural resources through this inquiry to make the information more meaningful to the students and incorporate many ELA standards at the same time. She built the study from the children’s own experiences with the floods in Columbia earlier in the year, and their natural curiosity about what happened to their water and why they couldn’t drink it. This authentic purpose also connected to the school’s philanthropic project of helping a village get a well, which further built both motivation and background knowledge for the inquiry.
  • The lessons the teacher chose for the immersion phase of the unit allowed the students to begin to think about water – how they use it in their own lives, where it comes from, and what their own questions are about it.
  • The teacher also included research where students used QR codes to access video, so that they would be familiar with this use of technology as they further investigated the topic.
  • The teacher based the current lesson on inferring from photographs on a very similar one she had done earlier to teach the children how to make inferences from a picture. . (See Introduction to Inquiry, Gr. 1 Lesson Artifacts.) Along with work on making inferences all year, this supported them in having background knowledge about the process of inferring.

Connect/Engage: What purposes are served by the children sharing their previous learning?

  • The students’ attention is focused on the current topic and their background knowledge activated.
  • The teacher is able to assess what the children learned and remember from the Immersion lessons.
  • The teacher is able to build a natural link from the children’s comments into the current lesson. (This will be clear from the beginning of in the Model/Guide segment.)

Model and Guide

How does the teacher encourage the students’ inferences about the picture? What language do you notice?

  • The physical set-up of sitting in the circle with the picture in the middle invites participation and building on each other’s ideas.
  • The teacher invites students to share whatever ideas “pop into their heads” and identifies these reactions, including questions, as what good readers do.
  • She continually asks “What are you thinking?” and follows up with “why” questions to propel the children’s thinking to a deeper level.
  • She emphasizes language of inferring – “I like that word ‘maybe’,” “might – we don’t know for sure.”

How does this segment of the lesson prepare students to work on their own?

  • The teacher models and guides the children as a class through exactly what they will do in partners when they go off with their own pictures. The children are able to observe the kind of talk, thinking, and recording that is expected of them on their own. She then reiterates what they will do before she sends them off.
  • She demonstrates that the teacher is a learner, too, just like the children. By placing all of them together in the research, she demonstrates how research is a collaborative activity and builds the children’s engagement and confidence.

Collaborative Practice:


What do you notice about the students’ work with partners?

  • The children seem very comfortable working with a partner;
  • They discuss the task with each other and respond to each other’s ideas;
  • They share the paper appropriately.

How does the teacher guide the students in their thinking and recording of their ideas?

  • She asks the children what they are thinking, asks additional questions to explore their thinking, confirms the importance of their ideas, and makes suggestions for recording that thinking on their pictures;
  • She supports them in writing as best they can, without insisting on perfect spelling, but encouraging them to use aids in the classroom and stretch words to hear their sounds;
  • She calls attention to domain-specific vocabulary (e.g., protection, crane);
  • The teacher’s tone is positive, collaborative, and conveys interest in the learning more than evaluating the child’s work.


Sharing: What is accomplished in this sharing session?

  • The teacher uses the sharing session to help the children learn from one another’s inferences from their different photographs. She leads them in comparing and contrasting their pictures (“Touch your nose if your picture ….”), helping them to deepen their understanding of the topic.
  • Having chosen the photographs carefully, and having just conferred with each group of students, the teacher has an understanding of how each group can contribute to the whole class’ knowledge to lead them towards the big ideas of the unit. Therefore she facilitates the sharing to help the children bring out those ideas, and she lists some of them on chart paper as they share. (See Lesson Artifacts)


Lesson Reflection: What are your overall thoughts or questions about the lesson? What insights did this lesson provide into the overall process of inquiry and development of an inquiry unit?

(You might want to re-view the video clip of Apryl Whitman’s comments in the Introduction to Inquiry where she talks about her overall goals with inquiry and the benefits she has seen with students, and discuss her comments in light of watching the children.)