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Kathy Swahn's picture

Final Reflections

I am leaving Inquiry more confused than I came…

I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I thought I knew…

I have come to know that I do understand what inquiry is. In my own words it is using a child’s natural inquisitiveness to promote learning. This comes very natural to me after all parents share with our children all of the time. What has left me flat is the thought that inquiry learning has to be non-directed.  While playing with our own children we have tons of learning time and so open-endedness is not a problem.  On the teacher side however we become saddled with PA state standards, standardized testing, school district expectations, complicated with parent expectations, student expectations, and time constraints I know that inquiry has to be guided. I am not saying that we need to tell our students what to think but we do need to plant the right seeds to help the garden grow and sometimes we need to pull a few weeds to keep what we planted healthy.

This becomes further complicated with the question of, do we test? What will we test on, and furthermore how will we test? Once again we need to find balance between all of the participants indicated above. With so much discussion and so many reflections it becomes a puzzle of how to fit the pieces together and remain happy in our teaching/learning adventures. I have come to the idea that you have to teach several different ways including guided inquiry to accommodate all learners and test in the same ways.

I am walking away with lots of great beginnings and shared ideas I enjoyed and plan to use:

Loopy Learning – Paul Grobstein as an intro into shared learning used often in science.

Bubble-ology - Joyce Theriot using the color changes and reflection in the light and sound unit.

Understanding Scale – Paul Burgmayer in coordination with understanding scale of the solar system going from one extreme to another.

Water Chemistry – Paul Burgmayer in Earth’s Internal Processes unit to answer the question, “Can rocks hold water?” and later “Which volcanoes are most explosive and why?”

Exploring Electricity and Circuits – Joyce Theriot fits completely into my unit on electricity which is a new section for me to teach this year so I gain quite a bit of insightful ways in which to do electric labs and apply the learning to the students’ everyday life. I had taught simple circuits in science camp but this was my most useful lesson to date.






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