In beginning the web-based inquiry lesson, I have come to realize how much opportunity there is in inquiry-based activities in the classroom. It is such a great way to get the students engaged, appeal to their interests, and help them to see how what they are learning is relevant to life outside the classroom. Inquiry-based methods are great for making the classroom/learning experience student-centered. For example, instead of presenting the various types of clouds and information about them on a Powerpoint, the teacher could first ask the students to describe the various types of clouds they have seen in the sky. She could then take them outside and have them describe the clouds they see. Next, the students could use an online database to find and identify the types of clouds they observed. As Coffman (2013) puts it, “the curriculum for your students begins to come to life” (787). The students investigate and answer questions, under the direction of the teacher, so that they can take ownership of their own learning. Some great ideas for inquiry-based lessons can be found here.
Another great aspect of inquiry-based learning is that it can be designed to accommodate any grade level and any special need. The goal is for the “students to discover and pursue information with active and engaged involvement in the material” (Coffman, 2013). This is possible, indeed necessary, with all students. It all begins with a big question that directs the students in their discussion, research, experiments, or whatever else the teacher decides they should do to discover the answers. This big question will prompt sub questions and encourage the students to probe farther and think deeper, which is what we want! Inquiry-based methods are also a great way to integrate technology and meet the ISTE standards. Because so much information is available to our students online, it is important to teach them how to differentiate between solid, credible sources and unreliable sources. With all of the research involved in inquiry-based activities, teachers are given the perfect opportunity to teach this to their students and for the students to put it into practice.
Coffman, T. (2013). Using Inquiry in the Classroom: Developing creative thinkers and information literate students (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Education.
Photo courtesy of cockellmcarthur-blair.com.
To have my own domain means I have an official platform on which to present and store my own ideas and opinions, as well as compile information belonging to others as long as I give them credit. Having my own domain gives me the opportunity to share with my students and their parents information about my class, such as the syllabus, assignments, field trips, upcoming tests, etc. Though the school I am currently employed at provides its teachers with a program on which to store grades and post announcements, handouts, and assignments available to the students and parents, it must follow a very set format and presentation. Having my own domain gives me the freedom to personalize and present the information in my own way.
Twitter is a great tool to use in the classroom with secondary students because most of them are so adept at it and use it often. As an English teacher, I could use it to encourage class discussions on particular novels that we read or to teach the students about characterization. They could take on the persona of a particular character and post on Twitter as that character. Their posts would have to demonstrate their knowledge of the character based off of direct and indirect characterization from the novel. Because I am not as familiar with Twitter as I am with Facebook, it would be good for me to practice by posting more often. The more I practice and gain confidence with it, the better I will be with interacting with my students on it and monitoring their activity. The students should see that I am confident and capable at using the social media tools I incorporate in my lessons.
This is something that is expected of teachers today because we should always be one step ahead of our students. We should be willing to learn new skills, even if it is outside of our comfort zones. There will be times when we encounter problems or questions we don’t know the solution or answer to. If this happens in front of our students, we should see it as an opportunity to model flexibility and a willingness to learn and be taught. There will even be times when the students can teach US something, which is great! This year I had a student on the school’s tech team in my 1st period class. It was convenient, because I would often let him demonstrate how to do something on the computer or Ipad for the class or help his classmates one on one if I was tied up with another student. He helps me, the class learns something new, and he gains confidence in his own abilities.
Source: O’Hanley, Heidi. (Dec. 2013). Using Social Media. Arts and Activities, 10. Retrieved from: http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA352230660&v=2.1&u=crrl&it=r&p=ITOF&sw=w&asid=63b5a3ad6e8d933be77b3abd5cafdd41
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