Recently our Library Department held its second Professional Development of the year focused on STEM education. During this day teacher-librarians had the opportunity to attend many sessions ranging from using maker spaces for instruction to hands-on learning with the Adventure Science Center. During this time, I was able to facilitate a session entitled Inquiring Minds want to know. During this session we looked at one model of inquiry and discussed ways to be more intentional in finding ways to embed inquiry into our lessons.
Inquiry is defined by Merriam Webster as an official effort to collect and examine information about something. There are many strategies and tools that can be used to help foster a culture of inquiry. Below are what I hope your will consider as starting points.
Ask; find the question that matters most
- Thinking Maps: these are ideal for having students list what they already know about a topic, which then leads them to articulate and write questions they have.
- Visual Poster Maker (Recite.com): use this tool to make your essential question(s) visually appealing. Posting student questions is a way to keep focus of the learning present.
Investigate; gather information of the question through research
- Inquiry Charts: these charts are used for students to record information learned through research. The power comes in they encourage students to use various sources to find information and then to generate new questions based on their research.
- District Library Databases: provides students and teachers access to scholarly research about the topics they are investigating. In the state of Tennessee TEL(Tennessee Electronic Library) is a great source.
Create; shape the new information learned and make a new project
- Curiosity Projects: aimed at allowing students to initiate their own learning and learn about things that they are passionate about. Check out this example by Mr. Jackson and his colleagues.
Discuss, share the discovery with others
- 21st Century Learning Tools: are numerous but should be centered on meeting the learning objective/standards addressed in the essential question. Check out Common Sense Graphite, a tool that provides tech tools based on standards and teacher reviews.
Reflect; students look over their insights and ask what they have learned, what they should have done, and if new questions have developed
- Give me a . and a ? : this strategy causes students to not only reflect on their own learning but to also formulate questions based on what they’ve learned from their classmates. A tech extension of this strategy is the IOS app Post-itwhich allows students to collect their thinking digitally.
I would love to hear what your doing to embed inquiry into your instruction Please comment and/or add your thoughts to our Padlet.