Using MISO in Your Classroom
The last episode of iSPeaks, the International School of Paris (ISP) podcast, featured Cathryn Berger Kaye. She is an expert on research at schools and developed the MISO research method to remind students about the importance of using multiple sources to learn about a topic - media, interview, survey and observation (MISO). You can listen to her excellent advice on iSPeaks, or download her research tools from our previous blog post.
We want to give you more tools to implement MISO in your classroom, and so this post will take you through the steps of a unit plan mentioned during the podcast. Sean Walker and the grade 1 teachers at the International School of Paris (ISP) primary school, developed a unit of inquiry on Parisian landmarks. In this unit, students plan a field trip to their preferred landmark. Along the way they master the vocabulary of giving directions, using maps and other media and observing the details of their surroundings. And, of course, they're introduced to the basics of MISO!
ISP is an International Baccalaureate World School, so this means units are planned to fit within transdisciplinary themes. The landmark unit links to the theme where we are in place and time. The central idea of this theme is different tools and strategies help us develop awareness of where we are and navigate our surroundings. First, students explore the streets near school to connect to the big ideas of the theme, idea and unit. As the unit continues, students gain the skills and strategies to explore further, and are able and ready to plan their field trip.
It's difficult to take a field trip during the current global health crisis, but let us know how you might use this unit online. Leave a comment, we'd love to hear from you!
Provocation - Introduce Students to the Concept 'Landmarks'
At the beginning of the unit, the word landmark is not necessarily in students' vocabulary. It may be a new word for English as an Additional Language learners. To provoke inquiry at the beginning of the unit Sean takes grade 1 students to play in a nearby park, without telling them that their play time is linked to a new unit of inquiry and without mentioning the word landmark. After playing, Sean asks students to plan their way back to school. Students try to convince their friends that they know where they are and the way back to the classroom. En route, students point out familiar sights, such as shops and street signs, which are landmarks. Students now have a first-hand experience of using landmarks, and it is easy to link the new vocabulary to this authentic experience.
Media and Survey - How can we learn about landmarks?
Sean asks students to think collaboratively about the different ways they could learn about landmarks to visit in Paris. Groups share their chosen research method; some choose Google Maps, others use paper maps and some even survey students, teachers or parents to hear their opinions!
It is important to ensure students have access to many different types of media at this stage of the unit. City maps or tourist maps are a must. The Parisian metro map is a colorful way to see most Parisian landmarks. Think about providing guidebooks that give detailed information about a site in addition to its location in the city. You could also consider introducing students to digital options other than Google Maps; tourism apps are also great sources of information.
If students choose to survey others, make sure they have a reliable way to record responses. This is good practice for research projects in middle and high school (and beyond!), when they will need to keep detailed and accurate records of survey and interview data.
Don't hesitate to introduce MISO vocabulary at this point in the unit! Let students know that they are using media and surveys to complete their research on landmarks. As Cathryn Berger Kaye notes in the podcast, remind students that paper maps are excellent resources that should not be forgotten in favor of digital tools.
Prioritizing and Decision Making - How can we choose which landmarks to visit?
Next, Sean instructs the student groups to choose their two favorite landmarks among the ones they researched. Group priorities are collected and displayed so that everyone can vote individually for which landmark the class should visit.
Instead of telling students they are going to vote for their favorite landmark, consider introducing the idea of a popularity survey. Ask students to compare this type of survey to the opinion surveys they administered during the research phase of the project. And again, make sure to show the class different ways of recording responses to a popularity survey. You could even incorporate more language learning by asking students to write an official announcement of the popularity survey results to the school principal so s/he knows which landmarks students will visit during their field trip.
Taking the Trip - How can we broaden our knowledge about the landmarks we are studying?
In their groups, students then draw routes from the school to each of the landmarks they will visit, as well as between the different landmarks. They practice explaining the routes because they will be responsible for making sure the bus driver understands their recommendations and directions.
Students should bring a journal and drawing material with them on the field trip. Sean asks his students to make drawings of each landmark, with special attention to the details they didn't notice during their research. This is the perfect time to help students understand that a landmark observation is much more detailed than a visit. After the trip, keep the observational drawings where students can see them. They are not just a reminder of a fun class trip; they can be used to remind students how to do an observation in another lesson.
Will you try this MISO project in your classroom?
Let us know how you will use this MISO project in your classroom, or in your digital classroom. Leave a comment or a question, we'll be sure to respond with extra tips and tricks to help you!
And don't forget to download our MISO poster! Print and use as you wish with your students, and tell us about your MISO project in the comments!
- classroom strategy
- primary school