Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happy 2012

Welcome readers to our blog! We have big plans for expanding the website and writing a blog. To kick off 2012 join us in our discussion of how you have encouraged or plan to encourage inquiry-based learning in the classroom.  Inquiry-Based learning "is an approach to learning whereby students find and use a variety of sources of information and ideas to increase their understanding of a problem, topic, or issue...it espouses investigation, exploration, research, pursuit, and study."* For more information on what inquiry-based learning is please see our website.

So to begin this discussion let's start with looking at the Inquiry approach versus the Coverage approach. The differences between the two approaches can be found in bullet form on our website, but to break it down lets start by looking at the first point.

Student Voice and Choice VS. Teacher Selection and Direction

This year we encouraged student voice and choice through a class project on the theme of flight. Students were given free rein to look at the specific aspects that interested them.  The ideas of flight was taken as the base for exploration and discovery of all aspects from the science and engineering of air travel, to the history and biographies of various pilots.  The students were further encouraged to work in groups based on their interests.  Those who chose biographical information created podcasts based on their research of the individual and acted out interviews to share the information with larger audiences. Using google earth students were also able to map out the flight path of famous pilots such as Amelia Earheart. Others created model airplanes to explore the science of flights.  

Research was undertaken in groups and individually. Group based research included analyzing photographs as a class and creating discussion.  The library and internet was used for individual research.  Inspired by the National Geographic's article "If Only We Had Wings" and all this research a debate unfolded about the nature of flight and whether or not it is possible for humans to achieve flight on their own. 

The quality and caliber of each students' work was astounding. Active engagement and participation was present in the student's obvious interest in their selected topic.  Learning was sought and internalized through group work but also on an individual level.  The collaboration and group work was very inspiring to us as teachers and a great wrap up to our 2011 year. Can't wait to get back to class!

How did you encourage student voice and choice in 2011? Do you have any plans to encourage Inquiry-based learning in 2012? Join this discussion by sending us your comment below!!

*Guided Inquiry Learning in the 21st Century, Kuhltau, Maniotes, Caspari, Libraries Unlimited, 2001

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