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taught at was Liberty Middle School in Cumming, GA, and I taught 7th grade Language Arts on the iTeam (this is an outdated website, but the information about the team is still accurate).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

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Inquiry Based Learning

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