Inquiry-based Learning

Questioning Toolkit
Centralischool- instructional strategies and techniques
Saskatchewan Learning- What is inquiry-based learning and why is it important.

Inquiry-based learning is an opportunity for students to gather knowledge about a topic. Developing the esential questions is an integral process as it is central to the students learning. They are given essential questions to guide their research. Students are motivated because they act upon their own levels of curiosity. I need to know how to develop essential questions.

I am feeling overwhelmed. It was interesting to create a videothread and think about its impact in the classroom. I think that kids would have fun with presenting their research using this method. I know I have more to learn.. I am excited to be able to teach an inquiry unit in the class, and I hope that I am able to utilize everything that we are learning. I look forward to creating a unit that is classroom ready.

What classroom environment features stimulate inquiry?
I think that a classroom that is rich in discussion stimulates inquiry. This discussion should be in the form of large and/or small groups. Students must feel comfortable in the classroom in order to express themselves. You should provide opportunites for students to conference with others in order to question information that is presented to them.

Enduring questions, accrding to Eric Cook, are:
-questions that continue to be asked again and again
-deep thinking
-make life and learning engaging
-keep minds active and engaged
-lead to more questions
-a great question generates deep thinking, rethinking, discourse, analysis, debate, and reflection
-challenge the greatest minds and intrigue the simplest ones
-add to your own learning
-layers and layers of answers and ideas
-reflect upon our personal ideas and answers
-reflect upon personal lives and shape who we are

What are essential questions and why are they important?
Essential questions make students think deeper into topics. They help make connections to a student's background knowledge. Essential questions allow for differentiated learning to take place. They are important because they allow students to find answers on their own.

Why is inquiry a valid framework for learning?
Inquiry allows students to be accountable for their learning. It helps the student to think deeper into concepts instead of just looking for literal answers.

Inquiry learning is a valuable tool, but kids will need to be given the opportunity to feel comfortable to feel they can take risks and ask questions to help their learning.

End of Day 3 November 25th, 2008
This has been a hard day of thinking. I wonder if this is how the kids would feel at the end of a day in a class. Looking at choosing the unit topic before choosing the outcomes is not what I have been doing this year. If I wasn't able to follow some sort of a process, I would be lost. I need a systematic method in order to understand what I am supposed to be doing. The process is just as important as the means.

Assessment for Learning
I believe this is when teachers provide feedback to students. The students can then use the feedback to improve their work so that it will meet the criteria or standards that a teacher is aiming for. A teacher can use assessment for learning as a tool to whether or not reteaching has to take place. This would be formative assessment.

Assessement as Learning
Students are able to think about their learning through self-reflection, self-monitoring, or self-asjustment. They become aware of how they need to improve their learning in order to improve. Students can then report back to the teacher and communicate about their learning process.

Assessment of Learning
This occurs at the end of a unit or can be called summative assessment. This is an opportunity to provide a student with their achievment level. This should focus on the procut and the learning and/or the process the students have taken in the course of the unit. It should be fair and each standard should be evaluated fairly. If you spent 60% of your time learning about standard #1, then your assessement should also reflect this percentage.

I am still struggling with choosing a topic before I pick my outcomes. Macklin School staff is choosing outcomes first and then building units around them. An AHA moment for me was I feel I have a better understanding around the formation of Essential and Guiding Questions.

Reflection Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
I am feeling like a bear lost in the woods because of my inability to get here yesterday. There was times when I was getting feedback from some other conversation on some other call. It was great to be able to converse with my group using Skype. I would have really felt lost had I not had this interaction. At least I was able to have some input into the planning stage. I still feel like a bear though.

Reflection Friday, January 23rd, 2009
I feel my group is gaining momentum, but we will need at least two more days to have a finished product that is ready to pass to teachers. Shakespeare is a hard topic for grade 4 students to grasp and I think that is where we are getting hung up on. Once we get past the hump, we should be on our way. We are having a hard time deciding how to explain the inquiry into words. We can vocalize it, but can't get it down on the computer.