Inquiry Based Learning–
What is inquiry based learning? Inquiry based learning is creative; it is authentic; it is meaningful. In an inquiry based learning classroom, students are engaged in meaningful projects that utilize collaboration, research, and technology. Teachers design study involving experts; teachers use rubrics and exemplars. There is goal-setting by the student and the teacher and use of UDL: multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement. There is a connection in the classroom and beyond the classroom—ethical citizenship and ethical digital citizenship are promoted. Inquiry based learning—it is essential.
It is so amazing and awesome to see and be part of the new changes in education. Inquiry based learning is providing such an opportunity for students be curious, learn, collaborate, and create. I can remember being a student in my educational career and so many classes provided only rote learning—completely boring. Drill and practice, review, recite—these days are hopefully diminishing and students are being provided lessons that allow them to explode with excitement and gain deep understanding of content, while at the same time learn essential technology and communication skills. According to the article “8 Ways into Inquiry Learning,” educators need to be flexible, which is difficult for some; as teachers many of us have a strict routine and are set in our ways, but we need to embrace flexibility. The article also refers to fostering inquiry, designing architecture for learning, and avoiding being boring. I think would all agree that our most positive learning experiences have been when teachers allowed as to be creative, curious, and think outside the box.
In the “ 8 Principles of Inquiry” some vital points are made. Authenticity: Create learning opportunities that are linked to the real world. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard students say about literature or grammar: “When am I ever going to use this?” and I would of course tell them how, but my failure was in not showing them how in a real-word context.
So important: Deep Understanding: While learning tasks must be authentic and engaging, the key component is ensuring a connection exists between the task and learning goals. Are students learning the content in a deep and meaningful way. Teachers can have the most authentic, creative learning task in the teaching world, but are the students learning the content?
I love the Guiding Questions for Deep Understanding, and I am so glad to have been exposed to those during this class and wish I had been during my years in the classroom! The questions really make you think about how to develop a lesson with learning goals in mind.
As far as assessments, most of us realize the importance of rubrics, but I think strong exemplars of student work are so important, which is also addressed in the 8 Principles of Inquiry. I think for me, having an example is crucial to my learning and the way I perform an assessment. Sometimes a rubric simply does not do it; I need to see an example (this is what it is and this is what it looks like examples), and I am certain our students do as well.
Technology and ethical citizenship are newer concepts in education, but I am embracing them and loving the idea! What a great module!
Part 2—Mini Lesson Think Aloud
As part of my unit on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, I will have three mini lessons:
What is a tragic hero?
What is are the elements of a tragedy?
Who is the tragic hero in Julius Caesar? Why?
Some of the steps I will take to ensure these are inquiry based learning….
What is a tragic hero?
With literature, there are always themes that transcend the work itself and are prevalent in real-life, as is with The Tragedy of Julius Caesar: What happens when a leader has too much power or is perceived to have? What are the characteristics of a real-life hero and a fictional hero? Who are our heroes? Why?
Authentic: Because these themes are relevant to real-life, to make an authentic learning task, students will begin by using web-based graphic organizer tools such as Holt, to answer the hero questions and then use for whole group discussion.
Expert: As far as an expert, my brother, who is a firefighter, would come in to discuss firefighters as our local heroes.
Technology: Students would review the traits of a tragic hero by listening to a class lecture and then completing a Google Docs chart to list the traits and examples of these traits in the characters. Students would also blog about who they think is the tragic hero of the play and why. Is it Caesar? Is it Brutus? Is it Antony?
Performances and Ethical Digital Citizenship: Students would research who experts agree is the tragic hero by finding three credible sources, reading the information and blogging about it with sources cited in MLA format and ethical digital citizenship. Students would also have the option to create a slideshow instead of the blog post slideshow would include the theme song– a song that exemplifies the tragic hero the theme song is used in a slide show with images and text to show who the tragic hero is based on the research. Again credible sources must be cited.
Assessment: Students would be assessed on their blogs, graphic organizers, and theme songs. Rubrics would be used and a teacher created exemplar (since this is a new project).