Elementary Science

How to encourage inquiry based learning

Good evening everyone!  I know inquiry-based learning is very much encouraged in the science community! However, is there any tips or ways to encourage inquiry-based learning beyond science? Anything is greatly appreciated! 

Kohleen Mendoza
Kohleen Mendoza
370 Activity Points

Promoting inquiry-based learning can be tricky! It helps if you think about inquiry as "teaching students how to learn" instead of just teaching students "what to learn". You are simply a guide, your job is to spark the curiosity in each of your students and get them excited to make discoveries for themselves. Science is the easiest subject to incorporate inquiry due to the Nature of Science, and the simple fact that science and discovery go hand in hand. However, discoveries can be made by students in all subjects! In social studies for example, you can have your students interacting with maps, or interviewing people in their community to actively learn. Any activity you can come up with to get your students out of their seats and applying knowledge they are gathering THAT IS INQUIRY. If you are talking more than your students, all you need to do is think of ways to get them talking, and you facilitating.

Glory Scollon
Glory Scollon
3110 Activity Points

A. Inquiry teaching is difficult, especially at first. It takes time and courage to help students construct their own meaning rather than to just give them the answer. Some of the most vocally opposed students (and their parents) will be your best students because they have gotten very good at the memorize, regurgitate game and they are now under the impression that this is what it means to be a good student, and by doing inquiry, you potentially challenge their self image. You may not have the support of your administration (the assistant principal observing my class said "It would have been a lot more effective lesson had you just told them exactly what to do and what the answer was" ... I didn't get tenure there). You probably won't have the support of other teachers, who hear through the grapevine that their favorite students were frustrated in class today ... and if they talk to you about it, and you talk about the memorization, regurgitation is not equal to learning, they too might become your enemy because their self-image is wrapped up in the fact that they are a good teacher because their students can memorize/regurgitate well. Finally, it takes self-confidence in your content knowledge ... not that you know everything, but that if things go into an interesting tangent, you won't freak out that your are going to be exposed as not knowing ... but rather you will be also one of those learning, and you are even willing to share the discovery with your students. Given all this, I don't think most teachers (perhaps most people in the population) have the guts to do inquiry without support from other teachers/admin or have tenure. B. That being said, you can do inquiry anywhere. Easy. At my school we do writing across the curriculum, so I teach an environmental science course with writing designation. In it, when teaching introductions, I hand out a couple versions of introductions to the same paper, and they tell me which one is better and why. There is a history curriculum one of my colleagues is pretty big on that I think would fall under inquiry - [color=#1f497d][size=2][font=Calibri, sans-serif](Reacting to [/font][/size][/color][color=#1f497d][size=2][font=Calibri, sans-serif]the Past[/font][/size][/color][color=#1f497d][size=2][font=Calibri, sans-serif] [/font][/size][/color][url=https://reacting.barnard.edu/][size=2][font=Calibri, sans-serif]https://reacting.barnard.edu/[/font][/size][/url][color=#1f497d][size=2][font=Calibri, sans-serif]). In an art group I belong to, the leader one day had us flip through some books of art, find colors we liked, and just try to figure out how to make them, and she provided hints and discussion along the way about whether a warm red (cadmium) or a cool red (alazarin) was really the best red to be using for this particular color. The CMP and Core+ mathematics curricula which were popular in MN for about 5 years from 1998-2003 were inquiry-based, but although it was widely adopted, and the 11th grade MCA was written for it, it rapidly fell out of favor because of the reasons listed in A ... HIGH level of frustration, no easy memorize regurgitate questions, etc. I remember talking with the math teachers adopting it ... then going to a training workshop on a year or two later when I began to teach with it and it was an amazingly fun curriculum if you liked math and liked to discover patterns yourself. But apparently frustrating to try to learn your basic skills from.[/font][/size][/color] [color=#1f497d][size=2][font=Calibri, sans-serif]C. Finally, do not forget that just because students have their hands busy, it is not inquiry (or at least not good inquiry). Some people still do bridge building or egg drops in science classes ... I don't know why. Students appear to do 1 of 2 things - trial and error or google and copy, but no one really teaches and expects students to apply engineering statics to the bridge design. But one thing I never see on these is any kind of analysis/discussion after the fact - (for 5E inquiry, the "Explain" phase"). These are our top 5 bridges ... what do they have in common. These were our 5 strongest bridges that didn't do well in the scoring because of their excessive weight (scoring is usually weight held/weight of bridge), what do they have in common and how could they have been improved, etc. You can't stop at the "explore" phase and call it inquiry. If you are, it is just playing.[/font][/size][/color]

Richard Lahti
Richard Lahti
2425 Activity Points

Thank you so much for posting this! I think it definitely cleared up some questions I had on inquiry. I have only done one science lesson so far because I just started student teaching but I definitely understand how difficult it can be to include inquiry without having frustrated students and sometimes me worrying that they are not understanding so I feel like I am not doing a good job. Because I am a new teacher I still haven't found the line where I can tell they are learning on their own but at the same time where I see that I am helping them get their thoughts together. I think it will be a work in progress but after have read your post I feel a little better about it. I also will keep in mind that although students are doing hands on, it doesnt mean that they are learning. For example constructing a boat in High School and trying to use it to get from one side of the pool to the other didnt help me understand anything. To this day, I do not understand how I would have made that thing float all the way or why it sank. There was never an explanation or discussion after, just a simple grade. I do believe inquiry is very important and will try to make sure that my science lesson involve more of it because it is crucial to learning.

Griselda Cazares
Griselda Cazares
350 Activity Points

For social studies, I recommend these articles - http://www.gpb.org/blogs/education-matters/2016/10/04/5-ways-get-ahead-inquiry-based-social-studies https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/ausl/2013/08/07/student-historians-inquiry-based-learning-in-a-literacy-and-social-studies-classroom/

Katie Brkich
Katie Brkich
2045 Activity Points

Hello,

I would begin that process of incorporating inquiry based learning by doing proper research on what that looks like from the teacher's perspective. Here is a quick read and introduction to what inquiry based learning is and why it is important we incorporate it into our classrooms: http://edutopia.orghttps://www.edutopia.org/practice/inquiry...-classroom

My college professor that teaches a science methods class always starts inquiry by posing a question to the entire class. It allows the class to assess their own thinking and develop an answer to the question. Through out the entire class discussion, he does not tell anyone they are right or wrong but he DOES insist that we explain our reasoning. This gives us time to dig deep and question why we think that. Often times, it challenges our years and years of misconceptions in science, other times it makes us feel like we don't know what we're talking about. However, his guided questions allow us to think about our own thoughts and why we arrived to those answers.
Instead of making the teacher a receptacle of knowledge, we must encourage our students to think for themselves and reach answers with the facilitation of teachers. After we discuss, he gives us some context to the question - which we still are exploring the topic on our own. Once we've worked in groups to understand the question and answer, we come back together to discuss the misconception or topic altogether. It works really well although it is quite an adjustment. Hope this helps!

Asmara Mengisteab
Asmara Mengisteab
415 Activity Points

Hi, I have also found it difficult to teach based on inquiry. I see the importance of it but being taught to just learn what the teacher told me, has made it difficult for me to teach differently. Inquiry based learning is a great way for students to become expert learners on their own. Students learn to teach themselves, you as a teacher are just there to facilitate their learning. I love this approach but it is somewhat difficult for me to get use to the format. I think constant practice may be helpful. Inquiry can actually be taught in almost any subject. We just need to start implementing this style in most of our lessons. Sincerely, Jannet Garnica

Jannet Garnica
Jannet Garnica
370 Activity Points

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