The I-Search UnitThe I-Search Unit is the very heart of Make It Happen! because it links effective teaching, learning (content knowledge and research processes), and assessment. Based on Ken Macrorie's 1988 book entitled, The I-Search Paper, EDC has developed an I-Search Unit with four phases of instruction.
In Phase I, teachers immerse students in the unit's theme (i.e., a socially relevant topic that naturally links science, social studies, language arts, and mathematics). Students engage in a variety of activities, not only to discover what they already know about this theme, but also to build background knowledge. These activities model a variety of ways for students to gather information. By the end of Phase I, each student poses an I-Search question to guide his or her personally motivated inquiry.
In Phase II, students develop a search plan that identifies how they will gather information: by reading books, magazines, newspapers, reference materials; by watching videos, filmstrips; by interviewing people or conducting surveys; by carrying out experiments, doing simulations, or going on field trips.
In Phase III, students follow their search plans and gather information. They also analyze and synthesize information to construct knowledge.
In Phase IV, students draft, revise, edit, and publish an I-Search Report. The I-Search Report includes the following components: My Search Questions, My Search Process, What I Learned, What This Means To Me, and References. The report becomes the foundation for an oral presentation, skit, poster, experiment, or other exhibition of knowledge.
An I-Search Unit is an excellent context for alternative assessment, the inclusion of students with diverse learning abilities, and technology integration.