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  • Current Understanding of Inquiry Learning

    Posted by George Garza on May 31, 2019 at 3:52 am

    Hi all, so I’ve been burying myself in reading, podcasts and videos, learning everything I can about Problem based learning.  I just finished a couple books and thought it would be a good point to write a summary of my understandings.  For most of the points I could go into more detail, but I just want to share what I have with you all to see if anyone had anything I am missing or mistaken on.  What I’ve included are basically what i see as the biggest points to keep in mind.  I know it’s kind of long and rough, those that read it anyways, thanks!  I appreciate any and all feedback/criticism.  Cheers!

    Summary of problem based learning/inquiry learning classroom

    Inquiry Based Learning is a method of teaching that places the student, and their understanding first and foremost. This can take many shapes, as it is just a guiding pedagogy, but popular strategies that harness these methods are Problem Based Learning (PrBL), Project Based Learning (PBL) and, more recently, Maker Spaces.

    Inquiry learning is based in constructionist thinking, and so the core idea in an inquiry classroom is that the student needs to have the time to “construct” their own learning. Since this is the emphasis in the inquiry classroom, it is designed so that from the time the student walks into the classroom to the time they go home and do homework, they are being engaged, supported and allowed to express their ideas and create solutions. Students are allowed to test ideas, analyze other student’s ideas, make mistakes and grow from them. Students should be given plenty of opportunity, and indeed encouraged, to verbalize their thinking, draw diagrams and use whatever means they feel they need to express their ideas.

    To do all of this students will need a classroom that is structured to support them in this method of learning. An inquiry based classroom rests on three pillars that the teacher will need to carefully put in place and maintain. They are classroom culture, learning tasks, and facilitation.

    Classroom culture is the set of norms, routines and expectations that govern the behavior of everyone in the classroom. The teacher has the power to be the culture setter in their classroom. Norms and expectations that seem to be particularly valuable seem to be the expectation that students express themselves and allow others to express themselves without fear, that everyone in the classroom has a growth mindset, both about themselves and everyone else in the classroom.

    Learning tasks should be chosen that allow ALL of the students to engage in some way with the task. This means that task should have a low entry point so even the weakest student in the class can contribute to the task, such tasks are said to have a low floor. Tasks should also allow students that are able to, to engage deeply with the material so they can be engaged and push their learning. This means that the maximum level of engagement in the task should be quite high, such tasks are said to have a high ceiling. Tasks should also be open, meaning that what the students are being asked to do can have a variety of answers. This is to better allow the students to express themselves and their creativity Tasks that are open and have a low floor / high ceiling are said to be rich tasks. These rich tasks allow students to be engaged and push their learning in a way that is impossible with traditional closed tasks.

    The last pillar is facilitation. This is the way the teacher runs the tasks and the classroom as a whole. The teacher needs to be careful to allow students to make mistakes, and struggle. In addition, the teacher needs to respect student thinking and choice. Great care should be taken by the teacher to constantly reinforce the culture that is being fostered in the classroom, and all interactions with the students will either add to this or take away from it.

    Inquiry Based learning, when implemented correctly is a great way to differentiate for all students, including those with IEP’s, ELL’s, and low and high achievers. It also allows students to practice many soft skills. It is a system of teaching that is informed by research, it is truly a 21<sup>st</sup> century method of instruction for 21<sup>st</sup> century skills.

    George Garza replied 3 years, 9 months ago 1 Member · 0 Replies
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