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Snapshots > Almanacs and Inquiry at School 84


almanac and childAlmanacs and Inquiry:
School Almanac

After their initial explorations, the children became excited about creating their own school almanac. They wondered how this would be possible and began brainstorming and planning, then creating.

On this page, you'll find students Asking Great Questions, Defining Categories and Gathering Information, Building an Action Plan, Building the Almanac Content, Creating the Almanac Notebook, and Reflection and Thanks.


Asking Great Questions

Before jumping into the creation of a class almanac, the students thought about the types of data and information that might be included in their project. They wondered what their readers would want to know about their school. For instance, does School 84 have any dark mysteries?

What Makes a Great Question

almanac videoBefore brainstorming questions for their class almanac project, Ms. K felt it was important that the children understood the importance of seeking meaningful, useful, and interesting information.

She asked her students to think about what makes a "great question." They came up with the following list of ideas:

video clipView What Makes a Great Question (:22).

A child describes what makes a great question.

A Bubble Map of Opportunities

The class created a bubble map focusing on the following statement: "inquiring minds at CFI want to know [BLANK] about CFI 84." Over the next several weeks, children listed questions that might be answered in their almanac.


Click the visual above to see a larger version.

video clipView Bubble Map (1:15) and Questioning and a Bubble Map (:17).

Children describe how a bubble map was used in brainstorming, sharing questions, and organizing assignments.

almanac videoalmanac video

The bubble map was useful in capturing ideas. Ms. K. noted that the bubble map "will stay on the wall throughout the investigation and be added onto as we go along. The kids like to see their information build over time."

Examples of student questions include:

video clipView History of the School (:17).

A child describes an interview with a woman who was both a student and teacher at the school.


alamanac videoDefining Categories and Gathering Information

The next phase was to develop categories for research based on the inquiry questions identified by the group.

After determining important categories of interest, the class focused on how to gather the information using surveys, interviews, internet searches, map quests, or other almanacs that might be useful.


video clipView The Value of Opinion (:22).

A child describes the importance of asking people their opinion and gathering different perspectives.


Building an Action Plan

group of studentsAfter defining the categories and identifying where to gather information, the young people were ready to action plans for their work as a group or individual. Children discussed their strengths and weaknesses while identifying the roles and tasks required by the project. For instance, some students were confident in their drawing abilities, while others preferred to conduct surveys or interviews.

The class discussed the importance of working together toward a common goal using the following steps:

  1. Decide what question you want to explore.
  2. Generate a list of questions that help get to the information that you want.
  3. Create a survey, for a certain audience, or interview, research, eye-witness or otherwise investigate.
  4. Be sure not to disrupt things.
  5. Gather data and organize it – graph, spreadsheet.
  6. Analyze the information and look for patterns.  So what? Why do I care? What does this mean?
  7. Put it together in an almanac page with maps, photos, illustrations, bibliographies, and facts.

three studentsMs. K. led the whole class in creating an action plan for one category. For example, what are the most favorite clubs offered during discovery clubs? Let's think about who we need to talk to, what we need to research, what we need to create (survey), how we will get information collected and analyzed, and how will we display it to be most visually appealing and informative.

Next, the children broke into small groups and tackled a few categories using the whole group instruction as a guide and reference. They created action plans and met with Ms. K to get final approval. Finally, the students were off making "it" happen.

Some worked quickly and moved onto another category, while others were a little slower. Children could choose what categories to work on giving them some freedom.


Building the Almanac Content

As their work progressed, individual students, pairs, and small groups began creating almanac pages. Most of the pages reflected the features found in the almanacs they explored in their earlier activities. A few of these pages are described below.

Creating the First Almanac Page: The Super Bowl

almanac videoAlmanacs often include data collected through interviews and surveys. The class was buzzing about the upcoming Superbowl, so this event become a popular topic for the almanac.

A small group worked on creating surveys about the Colts football team and the Superbowl.

The surveys were then circulated throughout the day. The children used the data to document this event in history as their first almanac piece. Their documentation including charts and graphs, along with narrative.

According to their findings, the most popular food students consumed while watching the Colts win the Super Bowl was cookies with soft drinks.

video clipView Superbowl Project (:11).

A child describes the process of collecting and reporting data related to Superbowl.

almanac cover


CFI Mural as Almanac Cover

final product videoThe students wanted the cover of the almanac to reflect their philosophy of learning as well as the contents of the almanac. Four students worked collaboratively to create the CFI mural used for the cover of the school almanac.

Timelines are often found in almanacs, so the students created an almanac page showing an early version and final version of the design. Then, described the process and thinking that went into the creation of the mural.


video clipView CFI Mural: Before and After (:51).

A child describes the process of creating the CFI mural on the front cover of the class almanac.

Special Classes

final product videoThe students wanted to highlight special classes such as instrumental music.

In addition to describing the class, they also featured their experience at the VH1 concert.

They noted that in their survey the most popular special class at the Center for Inquiry is an instrumental music class on string instruments such as violin, cello, viola, and bass.


video clipView Instrumental Music Class (:50).

A child describes the instrumental music class page.

CFI Goals

final product videoOne child chose to focus on the goals of the school.

She created a pyramid highlighting the elements of an effective school including:

video clipView CFI Goals (1:02).

A child describes the goals of the school.

Classroom Disaster News

almanac videoA classroom disaster down the hall was highlighted as a special event or news item.

According to the student reporter, Ms. Shockely’s class was trashed, but the teacher and the students worked together to clean up the mess.



video clipView Classroom Disaster (:49).

A child describes the classroom disaster activity down the hall.

Happy Teacher Week

final product videoAlmanacs often focus on special events. One students decided to celebrate with a Happy Teacher Week page to highlight activities related to Teacher Appreciation Week.

She included the purpose of the celebration, what makes a good teacher, and quotes from her teacher.

video clipView Happy Teacher Week (:39).

A child describes her almanac page called Happy Teacher Week.

Science Camp

almanac videoThe class participated in a Science Camps sponsored by IUPUI.

The children created an almanac page to feature the experience and the science activity stations.

They noted that at Science Camp they made model cars and learned the carbon cycle.


video clipView Science Camp (:56).

A child describes science camp.

Boy's Basketball Page

final product videoMany of the children enjoyed the sports almanacs and explored how statistics and other information was conveyed.

Two boys created a page for the boy's basketball team including names of players, background information, statistics, and interviews with fans.

They noted the scoring point averages in boy’s basketball were Edward 6, DeLorean 6, Raylon 6, Antonio 3, Tristen 4, Ernest 4, DeShawn 2, and Mark 2.

video clipView Boy's Basketball Video (:27).

A child describes a page he and his partner created on the boy's basketball team.

School Songs

almanac videoThe class highlighted the school song and also featured their own songs.

The almanac page features the lyrics and photographs of singing the songs.



video clipView School Songs (:38).

A child describes the school songs page.

School Building

almanac videoA series of almanac pages focused on the school building facilities.

The children included the floorplan, photos from a field trip, and explanations of the workings of the broiler and other mechanics aspects of the building facilities.

They also provided basic facts about the building operation. For example, it takes three people, 120 man hours a week to run this building.


video clipView School Building (:38).

A child describes the school facilities through history.

Student Council Page

almanac videoMany almanacs contain pages on organizations.

The students concluded that student opinions on the purpose of Student Council vary greatly, but most members believe they are doing fine


video clipView Student Council Page (1:20).

A child describes the student council page.

Favorite Book Poll

almanac videoAlmanacs often include polls showing favorite things. One group decided to create a poll of favorite books.

The results of their poll showed the all-time favorite books of CFI students were The Lorax, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Love that Dog, The Chocolate Boy, and Harry Potter.

They conducted polls on other topics. For example, the three most popular indoor games for CFI students are Monopoly, chess and battleships.

video clipView CFI Favorite Books (:33).

A child describes the process of collecting and reporting data related to CFI favorite books.

Teacher Interviews

final product videoInterviews are often found in almanacs.

Two students decided to interview four of their teachers on a wide range of topics.

The results of the interviews were displayed in a comic-type format with bubbles for questions and answers.

video clipView Teacher Interviews (1:10). Also view Teacher Interview Results (:31).

A child describes the process he and his partner used to interview four teachers and report their results.

Quotes and Advice from Kids

final product videoStudents discovered that any almanacs contain quotes from famous people or advice on a wide range of topics from cooking to travel.

One child interviewed young people and ask about their advice to others. The result was a wonderful list of quotes and advice from kids to other kids. She also incorporated some of her own favorite quotes found in almanacs. A few quotes include:

video clipView Quotes and Advice from Kids (:37).

A child describes the process of interviewing children and exploring almanacs for quotes and advice.

Culture Study Map

final product videoThe class connected their culture study with their almanac by incorporating photographs of their wall map and a description of the elements.

Maps are a common feature of almanacs. The students studied the elements of maps and discussed the elements that should be included such as identification of governments, cultures, populations, biomes, and poverty. They also provided a key.

Learn more about the Culture Study aspect of the project.

video clipView Culture Study Map (1:09).

A child describes the culture study map included in the class almanac.


Creating the Almanac Notebook

Over the next four months, the class almanac continued to evolve. Students worked on editing and refining the articles.

During the last month of school, the class assembled the almanac into a single, 80 page three-ring notebook containing drawings, photographs, charts, maps, and narratives.

The paper-based notebook was digitized.

Click the notebook photograph on the left or the link to read the electronic book version. Use the PREVIOUS and NEXT buttons below each visual to move through the pages.

video clipalmanac videoView Almanac Authors (:28).

A child describes the authors of the School almanac.


Reflections and Thanks

In their reflections, several students noted that future classes would be able to build on their work. They hoped that their efforts would help a new group of students produce the Second Annual School Almanac.

video clipfinal product videoView The Final Product (:11).

A child describes her amazement at the final product.

"Student contributors to the School 84 Almanac agree that the Center for Inquiry has provided them with the opportunity to gain confidence, to read and write more than before and enjoy it, and to be a critical questioner" [1].  


video clipfinal product videoView A Special Thanks (:16).

A child describes a page created to thank Dr. Callison for his work with the project.



Go to the Personal Inquiries page to learn more about the next phase of the project.

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