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.