Inquiry and Mystery Pellets!
The second of two Web Seminars on the topic of Picture-Perfect
Science Lessons was held on Wednesday, January 11, 2006, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00
p.m. Eastern time. The
session was presented by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan,
co-authors of the popular NSTA Press publication Picture-Perfect Science Lessons: Using Children's Books to Guide
The session started with a general overview of the Web Seminar tools and how they
can be used to facilitate interaction between the participants and the presenter.
Seventy-eight participants were present in addition to the presenters and the NSTA
staff. Educators represented the states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida,
Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota,
Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania,
Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Karen and Emily started the presentation with three poll questions to assess participants'
prior knowledge about inquiry. They followed these questions with a discussion of
several common myths about the subject. Then they proceeded to present a slide with
some "mystery pellets." This action provoked increased interactions between participants
and presenters Participants wondered: "What are these pellets?" "What can you learn
from them?" "Where do they come from?" Karen and Emily said that the pellets were
related to owls. The lesson was a perfect way to model the process of inquiry.
Emily and Karen concluded their presentation talking about the five essential features
of inquiry: questions, evidence, explanations, evaluation, and communication. They
also talked about degrees or levels of inquiry in a lesson. They explained that
inquiry is a continuum; some lessons are open-ended inquiry, while others may be
examples of guided inquiry. In the end, the presenters defined inquiry as an approach
to learning that involves exploring the world and that leads to asking questions,
testing ideas, and making discoveries in the search for understanding.
Throughout the presentation there were several opportunities for interactions between
the participants and presenter, including writing down questions, answering poll
questions, chatting, stamping, and marking on slides.
Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:
- "I am a professional developer working with teachers of science. This seminar
provides me with a great resource to take out to teachers that I work with!! Thanks
- "I learned about some wonderful picture books. I love this experience. It is
so convenient and fun, too. Thanks!"
- "I think this is a great way for teachers to share ideas and learn new ways
to engage their students. I very much enjoyed this seminar."
- "The enthusiasm and knowledge of facilitator, presenters, and tech support show
how good blending teaming, technology and teaching can be. Enjoyed most/interesting:
collegial interchanges among many geographically diverse educators; learned new
Thanks to the participants and presenters, Karen and Emily, for the learning opportunity,
the interactions, and a job well done!
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Underwritten in part by NSTA Press