An Inquiry Into Inquiry…

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					    An Inquiry Into Inquiry…
                      by Justin J. Wallace
                        GHAWP 2005

It is in the answers to the questions we ask that
               our knowledge exists.
What is Inquiry?
 “Inquiry is an approach to learning that
  involves a process of exploring the natural or
  material world, that leads to asking questions
  and making discoveries in the search for new
                             (Exploratorium Institute for Inquiry)
4 Levels of Inquiry
   Confirmation/Verification – students confirm
    a principle through a prescribed activity when
    the results are known in advance.
   Structured Inquiry – students investigate a
    teacher-presented question through a
    prescribed procedure.
   Guided Inquiry – students investigate a
    teacher-presented question using student
    designed/selected procedures.
   Open Inquiry – students investigate topic-
    related questions that are student formulated
    through student designed/selected procedures.
                                       (Herron, 1971)
Inquiry Process
The Inquiry Process is just that… a Process
 Asking Questions
 Investigating
 Creating
 Discussing
 Reflecting
Asking Questions
 It begins with the desire to discover. Meaningful questions are
  inspired by genuine curiosity about real-world experiences. A
  question or a problem comes into focus at this stage, and the
  learner begins to define or describe what it is. Of course,
  questions are redefined throughout the learning process. We
  never fully leave one stage and go neatly to the next.
 Questions naturally lead to the next stage in the process:
 At this stage the learner begins to gather information:
  researching resources, studying, crafting an experiment,
  observing, or interviewing, to name a few.
 The learner may recast the question, refine a line of query, or
  plunge down a new path that the original question did not-or
  could not-anticipate.
 The information-gathering stage becomes a self-motivated
  process that is wholly owned by the engaged learner.
 As the information gathered in the investigation stage begins to
  organize, the learner begins to make connections.
 The ability at this stage to synthesize meaning is the creative
  spark that forms all new knowledge.
 The learner now undertakes the creative task of shaping
  significant new thoughts, ideas, and theories outside of his/her
  prior experience.
 At this point, learners share their new ideas with others and
  begin to ask others about their own experiences and
 Shared knowledge is a community-building process, and the
  meaning of their investigation begins to take on greater
  relevance in the context of the learner's society.
 Comparing notes, discussing conclusions, and sharing
  experiences are all examples of this process in action.
 Reflection is just that: taking the time to look back at the
  question, the research path, and the conclusions made.
 The learner steps back, takes inventory, makes observations,
  and possibly makes new decisions.
 Has a solution been found? Do new questions come into light?
  What might those questions be?
 And so it begins again; thus the circle of inquiry.

                                                  (Molbesh, Dodge, & Bell)
Characteristics of an Inquiry-Based Classroom

   Asking questions does not necessarily lead to answering them. Often the
    best inquiry leads to more inquiry.
   Inquiry does not just mean asking and responding to questions. It also
    means exploring possible processes for asking and responding to them.
   Strong inquiry-based pedagogy helps students explicitly articulate what
    their inquiry processes are and can be.
   Inquiry-based learning is not about correct answers and it is not about
    problem-solving. It is about problem-posing exploring possible questions,
    problems, solutions, viewpoints and providing specific support.
   A teacher in an inquiry-based classroom starts with her students–what they
    know, what knowledge they have access to, and what knowledge they can
    build as they collaborate with each other and with the course materials–
    while considering the course and curricular goals.
   An inquiry-based classroom is a place where mistakes do not count against
    you. Risks are valued and regarded as an integral part of learning and
    inquiry processes.
                                                         (Carrick, Giglio, & Kahn)
Challenges of an Inquiry-Based Classroom

 Students are not necessarily ‘trained’ to be the kind of student who
    creates and thrives in an inquiry-based classroom environment.
    Teachers must be patient and guide the way by developing
    carefully scaffolded activities. Students may be reactive inquirers in
    the beginning of the semester, but if teachers help them develop
    strong inquiry skills, they should be more proactive by the end.
   Colleagues are not necessarily ‘trained’ to value this kind of
    teaching and may accuse you of not doing your job. Be prepared to
    support your pedagogical philosophies.
   It is as hard not to just ‘answer your own questions’ or become ‘the
    question-asker’ when students are silent. Training yourself can be
    as challenging as training your students. Inquiry-based teaching
    requires different skills than more ‘traditional’ teaching methods.
   Inquiry-based classrooms can look and sound chaotic. Don’t panic;
    learn to see chaos as both empowering and generative.
   CO-INQUIRER - the teacher, like and with her students, explores a
    concept, idea or issue with a specific group of people for the very
    first time.
Interdisciplinary Units
 True Units of Inquiry
Interdisciplinary Unit on Babies

                                 Ages, weight
                                                 the food groups

          Art: collages,
                                                      Science: babies
            paints, &              BABIES             of many animals
           pictures of

                     Literature: poems,          Social Studies:
                    stories, chants about       caring for babies
                            babies              around the world

                                                                        (Calkins, 1994)
Unit of Inquiry on Babies

                                         Babies’ toys

                                  Developmentally good toys

                           Toys that are appropriate for different ages

                               Gender stereotypes in boys and girls

                               Violence in toys and on television

       Public Television             Children’s Programming               TV viewing habits of boys and girls
Snapshot of the IBPYP
IBPYP Student Profile
             Risk Taker
           Well Balanced
IBPYP 3rd Grade Unit of Inquiry
Title: A Balancing Act
Central Idea: Mental and physical health are interdependent.
Inquiry Into:
1. Meanings of mental and physical health
2. Effects on mental and physical health
3. Connections between mental and physical health
Time: Aug. /Sept.
Focus: an exploration of the nature of the self; of our beliefs and
      values; of personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual
IBPYP 4th Grade Unit of Inquiry
Title: Author, Author
Central Idea: Authors choose writing strategies and
     techniques to effectively communicate.
Inquiry Into:
1. Elaborative techniques used by authors.
2. Genres
3. The use of voice in written expression
4. The relationship between the author and the
Time: Aug. /Sept.
Focus: an exploration of the ways in which we express
     our nature, ideas, feelings, beliefs and values
     through language.
IBPYP 3rd Grade Unit of Inquiry
Title: The World of Work
Central Idea: People work to meet personal, financial
   and societal needs.
Inquiry Into:
1. Connections between work, personality and aptitude
2. Effects of society and economic needs on work
3. The value and status of the job
Time: Sept. /Oct.
Focus: an exploration of the world of work, its nature
   and its value; of employment and unemployment and
   their impact.
Creating Careers for Characters; A Book
Report Alternative
 What if one of the characters in the book you've been
 reading was looking for a job? What is the character
 qualified to do? What skills and experience could the
 character bring to a company?—all these questions
 are classroom discussion starters which connect
 technical writing and literary analysis.

 In this activity, students become characters in a novel
 or short story they have read and find a job for those
 characters. In the process, students read fictional
 works, use Internet resources, read and interpret
 classified ads, and write application letters and
Student Objectives
Students will:
 apply direct and indirect information about a character, noting
   the context of the reference.
 shape information about the chosen character into a coherent
   format (the resume).
 explore appropriate resume and job application techniques.
 (optional) examine the way that word choice affects meaning by
   focusing on using strong, active verbs to describe the
   character's experience.

NCTE/IRA Standards

 4 - Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual
   language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate
   effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

 5 - Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and
   use different writing process elements appropriately to
   communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

 11 - Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative,
   and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

Ballenger, Bruce. (2003). Characteristics of an inquiry based classroom. Retrieved
    July 10, 2005 from
Calkins, Lucy M. (1994). The art of teaching writing. Irwin Publishing, Canada.
Carrick, Tracy H., Giglio, K., & Kahn, S. (2003). Snapshot of an inquiry based
    classroom. Retrieved July 10, 2005 from
Gahn, Shelly M. (1996). Creating careers for characters. Retrieved July 11, 2005
Herron, M.D. (1971). The nature of scientific inquiry. School Review, 79(2), 171-
IBPYP. (2005). Curriculum of the ibpyp. Retrieved July 12, 2005 from
Molebash, Philip E., Dodge, B., & Bell, Randy. (2004). The inquiry process.
    Retrieved July 10, 2005 from

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