Monday, November 3, 2008

Inquiry reflection #3 (as part of CFF class)

What I am thinking:

I love this quote from the class:
I am not recommending that teachers come to class unprepared, but we should at least
occasionally tackle problems or ideas that we have not worked out beforehand. In doing so, we model thinking and demonstrate both the obstacles that we encounter and our successes.
In my district I would be considered unprepared. My classes would be considered unfocused. I am thinking those are good things!

In answer to classroom management strategies for inquiry learning, I foresee several challenges. First is mixed abilities within a class. In a perfect setting, students ill be of mixed age more than they are already (though students from grade 9 or 10 may be in a particular class, they may not mentally be in the same place.) Though it appears 43 minutes of time seems appropriate according to the materials presented, it is much better in a block scheduling environment where more in depth and uninterrupted questioning and analysis can be performed. Additionally, my students would love to design the learning environment. Much of the class area is not conducive to what we try to do.

Many think that sharing control means your authority will be overrun. That is not so. Students are more engaged and take ownership in the process of being part of the decision making (though I am not doing complete inquiry yet.) I think the greater problem is changing the culture where students accept more authority versus being passive and undermining.

In the Phyla/class work we are doing, students are finding information about characteristics of animals. We are basically asking how living things achieve the life processes. Students search information and we ask questions, discuss what it means. they are not just finding the answer but working to provide explanations and connections to those who will view it. This takes time and practice and is monitored through use of a journal/outline. Checkpoints are a grade and recommendations are made, and questions are asked. Any assistance in learning and practice is helpful to those using inquiry or project based learning.

Any member of the workforce may need to learn some information but they will definitely have to use or apply the information, problem solve, and cooperatively combine ideas and efforts.

Here is where a Community of Practice is vital for these ideas to work. Currently this class is a community of learning. Unless we can share best practices, ask questions of each others work, problem solve, show risk taking, and communicate results, we miss the fact that the same ways students learn is the same way that the teachers need to learn. In other words, our jobs should utilize 21st century skills.

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