I am in the inquiry group Math Mamas. When we first started we realized that we are all really struggling with what inquiry is. So our questions are: What does inquiry look like in classrooms? and Why do inquiry? We decided that we would like to have something to help guide our thinking and we agreed on reading parts of the book: Succeeding with Inquiry in Science and Math Classrooms. We started with the second chapter: Why Inquiry, and Why in Your Classroom? This chapter really seemed to fit with our first question and gave us a starting point for further discussions. When our group first started, we came together as math teachers. Now our thinking and discussions have moved more towards science and social studies as we want to feel comfortable in leading the inquiry process and for us it seems more accessible in those content areas.
I think that inquiry is learning through investigation. I think of it a lot like the scientific method, which is probably why I find it easier to come up with ideas of teaching it in science vs. math. I think it’s allowing students to struggle and explore, while challenging themselves to work through difficult things and learn.
My biggest struggle is, how much freedom do I allow? Sometimes I wonder if I’m letting them struggle too long. Also, are there areas and skills where inquiry doesn’t fit? If so, what are they? When will I know areas to use inquiry and when there are other best practices that might fit better?
My next step is to finish reading the chapter for my group and then to browse the book to come up with suggestions for our next reading. I also would like to try a mini-inquiry to see what happens so that I might better understand my struggles as an inquiry instructor!