Monday, May 4, 2015

April Post- Lynn Burnham

I can't believe we are at the end of another school year and another PDU!!  So much interesting learning this year for me!

1. What are the ways that inquiry has had a positive impact on your teaching and / or student learning?

Even though we have been working on inquiry for most of this school year, I still feel like my dive into it feels very messy!  I am still struggling to define what inquiry looks like for me, but I am so glad to have been pushed to take the risk to at least try.

I think that inquiry has had many positive impacts upon my teaching and student learning:

  • I look at content differently-  maybe more deeply?  In the past I feel like I might have been just a "deliverer" of content, rather than the facilitator of learning
  • Whenever I plan for a group, I now think about the skills and strategies that are underlying the work the kids will need to be able to do independently.  Am I facilitating their growth around those strategies, rather than just hitting on surface skills.
  • I feel like I am asking my students to stretch their thinking much more than I have done in the past
  • My students are more in control of their own learning: much more engaged, and much more thoughtful and willing to ask questions
  • I think my students are beginning to realize that sometimes there really is not a right answer, and that we are all responsible for our learning
  • I think my students have more fun in my room now!

2. What are the drawbacks? What are the ways that inquiry still feels uncomfortable? What are you still unsure about?

Inquiry still feels uncomfortable for me for a few reasons, but I am definitely more willing to sit with the discomfort and push my own thinking than I have been in the past. Some of the questions I am still struggling with are:
  • Can I really use an inquiry model within an intervention setting
  • If so, what is the "perfect" balance between time spent on inquiry, and the direct instruction my strugglers need
  • Do struggling students actually need direct instruction, or can they learn at the same rate in an inquiry model?  My professional knowledge leads me to believe that when there is such a skill deficit for a student, there is a need for highly scaffolded instruction... but should these kiddos always have content handed to them in small increments, or should we push them to realize there is success and growth through a carefully facilitated "struggle?"
  • Can I bridge both direct instruction, guided instruction and inquiry into a "guided inquiry" model?  Does that exist?  
  • Or, are mini-inquiries the route I am taking?
  • I am also really worried about using my group of kids as "guinea pigs" for my own learning.  I guess that if I can prove acceleration of their growth (not just a year's growth), then I will have my proof... just not sure how to assess for that.
Lots of questions still remain for me, but I have loved this topic so much.  I am looking forward to continuing my discovery next year!

1 comment:

  1. Lynn, you bring up some really great questions about what learners inquiry is best for. I'd like to think it is good for all students in all settings, but I'm not so sure. On the other hand, I was truly surprised this year to witness what students struggled with the inquiry model. A few of our high flying, gifted and talented students struggled during the investigate step of the inquiry cycle. Pinning down a question they were interested in was really difficult. So, it definitely challenges students' thinking in ways that might not happen often or regularly. It truly does depend on the students.