As I am planning for the new inquiry unit I was looking over some of my older notes and thought of organizing them into a chart that some might find helpful. Sure, I could have used the fanciest web tools to make it look nicer but I guess simplicity is often underestimated. Or I am a bit lazy. Take your pick.
*Side note: This is my notebook. You can tell I prefer doodling to organized stuff. And drawing to blogging.
Back to my notes. One error that some teachers make is mistaking engaging activities for inquiry. How can it be? They use a hands-on approach, their lessons are interesting, they organize learning around a theme, and, yes, even emphasize “interdisciplinarity” – “Dinosaur” theme in Science, Math, Art and whatnot.
(*A digression – “dinosaur” themes DO NOT exist in a concept-driven curriculum; maybe “extinction”, “survival” – concepts that are powerful enough to drive inquiry).
Oh well, the problem is that the key-factor is missing: inquiry.
|Activity dominatedTeacher in chargeTopics: superficial or forced connections||Questioning and thinking are visible, encouraged and continuously refinedTeacher-student collaborationConcept-driven, significant content un-covered through questions|
|FocusSs share what they know/want to knowSs engage in pre-planned activities
Ss engage in problem-solving only
Ss research topics and prepare projects for class
at the expense of CRITICAL THINKING
|FocusSs spend time to prioritize their questionsSs engage in problem-posing
Teachers and students engage in designing activities that support inquiry
Ss experience being scientists, historians, geographers etc.
Ss collect resources, have time to share observations, make connections
Ss use the questions as criteria to judge progress in learning
Ss learn and apply new skills in meaningful contexts
|ResearchSs make dioramas, write reports or make posters which are tangentially related to the themeFocus on product not process
Presentation: viewed as a culmination activity
|ResearchSs look for connections and coherence always following the question(s)Focus: on the process of learning, of thinking, of exploration
Presentation: just one phase in the inquiry cycle
|Learning emphasisCoverage and supply of information (even if in new, interesting and “engaging” ways)||Learning emphasis“Did we answer our questions?”|
|KnowledgeViewed as gathering of facts||KnowledgeViewed as understanding, as constructing meaning ——– it would lead the learner to ask new questions and create more “compelling theories”|
|AfterwardsSs feel they have “finished” with the topic||AfterwardsSs return to the inquiry as a way to deepen their understanding|