Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Developing Thoughts on Inquiry: Week 2

Unit 2 consisted of readings and discussions focused on the abilities and understandings necessary before one can implement inquiry-based learning in the classroom. It also focused on the importance of building a classroom community. 

I truly believe that creating a classroom community is essential when supporting an inquiry-based classroom for many reasons. For one, allowing students to feel part of something larger than themselves can prove to be a very powerful tool. Students need to feel like they are safe, and with that safety comes the opportunity to take risks. They must feel like a vital part of the team where they believe that they will be heard, valued, and understood. With this process, students will begin to take learning into their own hands and will advance in various areas across the board. When all students feel like they are part of their classroom community, they are working towards a common goal. This will help them become engaged in a fascinating topic, or it will spark an interest when trying to figure out a solution for a meaningful problem. Overall, students will feel more connected to the school and to each other when a positive classroom community is formed.

I enjoyed dissecting a lesson using the Discovery Education Techbook...what a fantastic tool!!! It was great seeing how this lesson paralleled many familiar things that I already do within my classroom, showing me that I can definitely create an inquiry based classroom with a few adaptations. It was also nice to see the additional things that I'm missing, and from that, I was able to take a few notes and tips on how to go about making my lessons even better. I teach World Cultures so having a variety of lessons to look at gave me some great ideas:)

Within the Processes of Inquiry topic, I found it fascinating when looking at all of the items that schools are responsible for when it comes to college and career readiness. The more I read, the more my head was spinning! I was able to voice my opinion here when it comes to the fact that we cannot teach every student as if they are heading to a four year college program. Instead, we must find their interests, talents, and motivations, and we must foster them so that they feel, and are, successful. Encouraging students to attend trade schools is not a bad thing. Just because they do not choose a college program does not make them any different than anyone else. Regardless of the path, students must have necessary life skills to flourish, along with the processing skills it takes to compete and achieve success.  

With so much information discussed in this unit, and especially during the last topic of looking at processing skills, I have one crucial question...How do we determine whether or not students are achieving success in the development of crucial life skills and processing skills? Each student is different and may be on a different path. With that being said, how do we know for certain that each student, regardless of future endeavors, is achieving on the appropriate level?

Not to take anything away from this unit, but I didn't feel as if this weeks discussions and readings lead to a new development in the understanding of inquiry, but I feel that it helped create a deeper understanding of what truly goes into creating this type of classroom. I also feel that it really opened my eyes to what educators are responsible for within our classrooms. I continue to take pride in getting to know my students and caring about them beyond a test score or grade, but it was amazing to see just how much pressure is being placed on teachers when it comes to teaching the foundations of academics AND life skills!

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