Inquiry Based Learning

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 3.52.53 PM Inquiry based learning starts by posing question, problems, or scenarios, rather than simply presenting established facts or portrayed a smooth path or knowledge. The teacher acts as a facilitator, rather than a source of information. The article Creating Classrooms We Need: 8 Ways Into Inquiry Learning by Tina Barseghian shows eight ways Diana Laufenberg suggests ways to incorporate inquiry based learning in the classroom. My favorite of the tips Ms. Laufenberg provides were “be flexible” and “embrace failure.” These two came in handy when I was student teaching in a middle school that would moving toward a more inquiry-based  approach. The school that I student taught at was Liberty Middle School in Cumming, GA, and I taught 7th grade Language Arts on the iTeam (this is an outdated website, but the information about the team is still accurate).

Through my experience using inquiry-based and project-based learning, I felt that it took some time to adapt to, but in the long-run, IBL and PBL were much better for both the students I was teaching and myself. Cloud 1

Inquiry Based Learning

Growth Mindset

GoalIt has now been almost five weeks since this class, Information Fluency and Inquiry Learning (FRIT 7234), has begun. It’s time for me to sit down with my goals that I made at the beginning of the class and evaluate them.

I believe that I am on track for two of my three goals! I have learned about a few new web 2.0 tools, specifically dealing with infographics, that I have saved to my bookmarks on my browser, and plan on incorporating into the classroom. I have also taken what information I have learned so far and brought it into the classroom, as well. For instance, while subbing last week, I helped a middle school student narrow down search results on Google and suggest tips for getting better results. This is something that I would not have been able to do had it not been before this class. Therefore, I would say that I am progressing nicely through my goals for the class.

While reading Even Geniuses Work Hard, by Carol S. Dweck, I noticed the two growth online_resourcesmindsets that she listed within her article: fixed and growth. Once I was finished with the article, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to place myself within a mindset – where exactly did I belong? How did I view knowledge? And, more importantly, how did I view myself within the knowledge spectrum?

After a considerable amount of time had passed, I believed that I had the answer. I think that I belong within the growth mindset. I believe that everyone can develop intelligence, I value effort, I respond well to obstacles, and I view challenging work as an opportunity to grow.

Ms. Dweck also made sure to point out in her article that a fixed mindset was not a very positive way to think. Those with a fixed mindset believe that you are born intelligent, they value looking smart “over everything else,” they do not like effort, and they do not handle setbacks well. This is obviously not conducive to a positive classroom environment. Ms. Dweck points this out within her article, as well as offers a suggestion:

… teachers need to create a growth-mindset culture  in the classroom. One way to create such a culture is by providing the right kinds of praise and encouragement.

I believe that this is something that all teachers should strive for. There are some students who definitely are too hard on themselves, and definitely are stuck in the fixed mindset. However, that’s not saying that they’ll be viewing education and intelligence the same way forever. Teachers can change the way that students view intelligence, education, and their own personal worth by offering the right kinds of feedback, just as Ms. Dweck suggests in her article.

Growth Mindset

Letting Go

kindergarten-clip-art-teacher_miss2As a teacher, it is extremely important to remember the fine line between supporting and babying a student. Learning happens best when teachers allow it to happen – when they step back and allow students to take ownership of their own learning. Grant Wiggins, author of Great Teaching Means Letting Go, states that “our instincts as teachers cause us to over-help rather than under-help.”

He is absolutely right. It is absolutely our instincts to over-help students, and definitely outside our realm of comfort to sit back and allow students to come to their own conclusions, when we can push them just a bit further to help them come to the same conclusion just a bit earlier.

In his article, Grant Wiggins compares teaching to coaching soccer. He states that when he was coaching soccer, he spent weeks learning drills and moves to help his team succeed. However, when his team was ready to use the moves in gameplay, he states it was “like we never learned it.” Mr. Wiggins says that his greatest learning as a teacher came on the soccer field. He says that “you have to be able, on your own, to size up when to use what Soccer-Ballyou previously learned… analyze the challenge, and judge what to do, mindful of a repertoire of prior learnings; then, implement a purposeful move, and assess its effect.”

Teaching is definitely similar. As teachers, we cannot teach students one strategy for every single concept they may ever come across. We can, however, teach them how to use one strategy in multiple ways, in order to achieve multiple results. Mr. Wiggins even compares running soccer drills to test preparation: “test preparation done right would mean that students gain practice in drawing from their repertoire with no teacher prompting… where there is no prior warning about what specifically is going to be on the test.”

Letting Go

Reflective Searching

man-searching1How does someone find the answers to questions they might have? The answer is, unsurprisingly, to Google it. This should come without a shock. Before Google, AltaVista and Ask Jeeves reigned supreme. The answer for many has always been to turn to a search engine, type in a question, and pick one of the very first links.

Unfortunately, searching is skill to be honed, and one that students usually do not have. As noted in the Pro Tips for Searching Google Effectively in 2013 Infographic, “three out of four students couldn’t perform a ‘well-executed search’ on Google.” The article How Google Impacts the Way Students Think provides some answers to this. The author, Terry Heick, states that “Google creates the illusion of accessibility,” “Google naturally suggests ‘answers’ as stopping points,” and “Google obscures the interdependence of information.” Mr. Heick points out that Google “creates the illusion that answers are always within reach even when they’re not,” and that “if users can Google answers to questions they’re given, they’re likely terrible questions.” Mr. Heick also points out that users can “Google Abuse” at any time, being uncertain how to apply and synthesize the information they’ve found. In addition, the article How Teens Do Research in the Digital World states that teachers have a variety of concerns when it comes to students’ overdependence on search engines, including judgment of quality, literacy level, increasing distractions, poor time management, diminished critical thinking capacity, and plagiarism.

google_lupaThe article How Teens Do Research in the Digital World also states that teachers say that “a top priority in today’s classroom should be teaching students how to ‘judge the quality of online information.'” So, how do we make this a priority? The article True — Or Not? by Debbie Abilock shows the reader some rules of thumb for how they can begin doing some better online searching, including verifying the author(s), looking for bias, and verifying content. By doing these things, we can all become better searchers.

However, how would a school-wide approach to reflective searching come about? A school who uses inquiry-based learning methods. Using an inquiry-based learning model, students are taught to find the evidence and answer “how do I know this information?” Students in inquiry-based learning schools aren’t able to just answer questions, they have to provide answers with enough evidence to support their answers, in addition to finding factually accurate information.

As schools move more and more toward BYOT (bring your own technology) models and using web 2.0 tools, it is important that students understand exactly how to perform Internet searches, no matter what search engine they’re using – Google or otherwise.

Reflective Searching

M1 Resources: Information Fluency

inquiryThe resources in Module 1 were definitely insightful to information presented online and inquiry learning.

The first article, My Daily Info-Wrangling Routine by Bryan Alexander, almost stressed me out a little bit! I cannot imagine going through hundreds of feeds, podcasts, e-mail, social media, and print materials! It seems crazy to me. And to think that this guy does this daily! I can barely remember to check my e-mail and Facebook a few times a day, let alone the, what must be, thousands of resources this man must have.

The second article, Creating Classrooms We Need: 8 Ways Into Inquiry Learning, by Tina Barseghian gave a lot of helpful information for ways to bring inquiry-based learning into the classroom today. Her tips were helpful and insightful, and didn’t seem too out of reach. Some of the tips were tips that teachers must have in an everyday classroom anyway – be flexible, don’t be boring, and foster joy. She makes a statement that “if by the end of the year, they still need me, I haven’t done my job … They have to be self-driven, independent thinkers.”

The third article, The Journey from Digital Literacy to Digital Fluency by Karen Lirenman, is ultimately where I’d like to be in terms of digital fluency. I would love to use more technology in the classroom, be able to share information through technology, understand Twitter, electronically interact with people… but right now, it all seems very overwhelming for me (and I’m only 23 years old!) The author makes a good point that learning digital fluency is like learning a new language; I’m sure that it gets easier over time, but when you’re just starting out, it does seem tricky and overwhelming.

Finally, the video InfoWhelm and Information Fluency, absolutely shocked me! I had Pile of books isolated on white backgroundabsolutely no idea that we produced so much content! Thirteen stacks of book from Earth to Pluto… that is crazy and something that I cannot even fathom! I have a stack of maybe seven or eight books on my nightstand that I have yet to read; I think that stack of books is tall and a lot of information – 13 stacks of book 4.65 billion miles long… I can’t even imagine. And honestly, it made me wonder how long it would take Bryan Alexander from the first article to consume it all – ha! I definitely think that the video raised some good points as far as teaching students digital literacy. With so much information out there, students need to know how to find the best content. A lot of students that I know type in whole questions into Google and often times go with the first link and use that as their only source. Often times they’ll only use Wikipedia. With the amount of content that students can potentially have access to, they definitely need to understand how to find multiple sources, find appropriate sources, apply information to real-world situations, and determine fact from opinion.

M1 Resources: Information Fluency

My FRIT 7234 Learning Goals

GoalsThis is the first time that I’ve used a blog since I was in middle school, about twelve years ago! I’ve also never had a Twitter account, and have never been on the website, except when something was linked to the website. I’m only a few days into this class and already have gotten new information out of it!

I wasn’t sure exactly what this class entailed by the title – Information Fluency and Inquiry Learning – but by the description, it seemed as though we’d be using technology to facilitate student learning. I love using technology, and I love using technology in the classroom, so this class seemed like the perfect match for me!

I would love to learn how to use Twitter as an instructional tool in the classroom. Since I’ve set up my account, I’ve followed several education-related accounts and hope to learn how to use Twitter in the classroom. I also hope to learn different web 2.0 tools and how to use technology in the classroom in an every day setting. Sometimes I get stuck in a PowerPoint rut and will show PowerPoints with information for about a week straight before I break out of it. Ultimately, I’d like to take all the information this class offers me and be able to apply it in some way to a classroom setting.

I am very much looking forward to this class and everything that it has to offer!

My FRIT 7234 Learning Goals