Our inquiry group name is Math Momma's, because we originally came together with a desire to figure out what inquiry looks like within Math. Our beautiful questions are: What does inquiry look like? and Why do inquiry? To kick off our professional inquiry adventure, we have chosen to read selected parts of the book: Succeeding with Inquiry in Science and Math Classrooms. We began with the second chapter: Why Inquiry? and Why in Your Classroom? What was reiterated to me while reading this chapter was that inquiry needs to be guided inquiry versus a free for all.
Although our group came together to determine what inquiry looks like in Math, Ms. Schoneman and I started the inquiry process with what seems to be the natural fit, which is Science. During Friday's PLC, the artifact that I shared was the inquiry Science menu Science Inquiry Menu that Tracy and I developed. I also brought the wondering sticky notes that each student created. It was quite interesting that in reviewing all of the wondering notes that they easily fell into categories such as: seasons, catastrophic weather, weather technology, and how do they predict the weather so far in advance.
I think I know that guided inquiry is a great way for students to learn, but I wholeheartedly believe that it must be: very guided, well thought out, well planned, and connected to curriculum standards. Planning and preparing a well guided inquiry unit takes a lot of time. I also know that there must be a balance of guided inquiry learning and other teaching methods. I have some experience with planning inquiry units and based on my experience, I also know that you must be very flexible, because even when you think you have covered all the possible road blocks, there still seems to be a few that pop up. Through my experience with guided inquiry, I also know that students need a lot of instruction on: effectively searching the internet, how to find good resources, determining the important information, organizing their information, and presenting their findings in a clear and focused manner.
I am still wondering how to best use inquiry in Math at the fifth grade level. What does that look like? With so much emphasis being placed on student growth and test scores, I wondering how you ensure that students are learning all the curriculum? How do you check for understanding with inquiry based learning? I know that you can check for understanding on the particular topic that a student learns about, but how do you ensure that they have learned all of the content?