Monday, February 2, 2015

Immersed-Colleen Sechrest

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? 


  1. Turns out, you have the same questions / concerns I have about using inquiry in math. I was hoping you and Tracy would have all the answers for me! I am in the same position and with the way inquiry fits so well in science and with my lack of experience, I think I am also going to start there. I am thinking that inquiry in math may be something I work on next year when I have more experience. I would also like to see it in action somewhere and really look at the way it is organized. Thanks for your post!

  2. After reading both you and Tracy's posts, I am grappling with the idea of the kids' interest in a limited amount of questions. That's so tough!!! I can't help but wonder if they researched those areas would students then brainstorm even more questions that might relate to the remaining questions. Then, I realize that is probably unrealistic. Wouldn't it be great though! Then I guess it would turn into multiple mini inquiry studies-argh! I guess I'm just hopeful that it's a natural process-living a curious life. I can't wait to what decisions you continue to make, and how you feel about the process at the end.

  3. After reading your post, I too thought how difficult it is to determine what inquiry means in Math. Is it because with Math we are solving a problem and expecting a specific answer? And if you consider all of the concerns of meeting content and standards, how can we take time to inquire in Math when the kids just need to develop skills. I totally get how challenging this must be. I wonder if inquiry in Math for younger students comes down to the why. Why is this answer correct and why does it matter?
    Also...maybe its a silly connection...but after watching The Imitation Game, I could not help but think about all the inquiry around mathematics going on in Turing's head. Obviously he was a prodigy, but I would think an important concept for children to understand is that Math is inquiry and as they develop their skills, they can see there are often multiple ways to solve a problem. Furthermore, those answers can lead to other problems/questions to solve. Rambling now so just hope this makes sense to someone other than me.