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This week was really informative, because I haven’t used a lesson plan format like the BSCS 5E one before. The five category format is really a great way of thinking about the process of an entire lesson, which on any given day of teaching can get altered or blurred together. This was a straightforward way of thinking about the steps of a lesson, and seems like a great guide for inquiry based learning. I think teachers often forget or tend to push through the “exploration” portion of a lesson, due to time constraints, assessments, and other required and necessary parts of a school day. I know I can be guilty of this. Unfortunately, it has become so apparent to me that while we sometimes rush through or don’t allow our students their own time to explore and discover, it is the most important and meaningful part of a lesson to them.

Quite a few things have changed over the past week, because I came up with so many new ideas about transferring the Web 2.0 tools we explored into actual workable lessons and activities in my classroom. Sometimes they seem great in theory, but exploring the websites and reading the ideas and feedback of others really allowed me to see how I could use a variety of these tools with my students. So the “change” that occurred was definitely the chance I got to develop ideas about implementing some of these tools, and how I can use the 5E structure to help guide a very real inquiry based learning lesson.

Last week I mentioned how I was questioning how to fit assessment into this type of learning, and this week answered a lot of those questions. I felt confident about completed projects, presentations, labs, etc. being appropriate summative assessments. Fortunately, this week gave me some great ideas about how formative assessment fits in on a daily basis and within a lesson. Additionally, I have some great ideas about formative assessment Web 2.0 tools that are useful, so combined with traditional conferences, discussions, and observations, I have some great new ideas and understandings about formative assessment fitting into inquiry based learning.

I don’t have many burning questions for next week, but I am looking forward to our sites being finished, and seeing which direction everyone chose to go with their units. I have some great ideas for social studies and science in the upcoming years as we shift to the NGSS.

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The past weeks have been especially helpful in developing my ideas about inquiry because I was able to take the time to really search through the Discovery Education Techbook at better length. By doing this, and looking at real ideas for questions and assignments, it allowed me to better understand exactly what inquiry based learning can look like and sound like across a variety of subject areas and grade levels. The lessons in the techbook really proved to me that planning for inquiry based learning will allow for a balance of student directed inquiry, as well as teacher directed. That standards and objectives can still be met without students inadvertently changing subjects or topics (though that might happen, every once in a while!).

Reading, reviewing, and practicing distinguishing concepts from facts was also a very useful step for me in terms of understanding the process of presenting information to students, as well as asking them questions. Going even deeper, I think it is important for teachers to look ahead and determine which questions they’re asking are investigable, and which are non-investigable. Introductions to material and teacher-guided lessons are going to give the chance for non-investigable questions to be asked, where investigable ones are important questions for students to ask in order for them to research, investigate, and experiment.

Finally, I really appreciated the chance to explore how to incorporate Web 2.0 tools with inquiry based learning. There are so many ways that they can go hand in hand and enhance inquiry based learning. I have used quite a few in my classroom already (partly because of all the things I’ve learned throughout my EDIM process!), so reading the Discovery Education remarks and video about the categories of Web 2.0 tools, was really useful and interesting. The tools sorted into lists helped categorize them in my mind, and shed a little bit of light on how to use them in situations I hadn’t thought of yet.

Some questions in my head that still remain are about assessment. Summative assessment seems relatively straightforward with inquiry based learning, because with Web 2.0 tools and student investigations, there are so many ways to assess a final product. I’d like to break down useful forms of formative assessment and how to use them, because right now I feel like teacher observations and recordings are what I’m thinking, but I’d love to elaborate on this and learn more.

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Over the past two weeks, my thoughts of inquiry have developed quite a bit. My biggest reservations with this type of learning was feeling that planning would be very difficult. As a third grade teacher, rules and routines are important, so letting students take liberty to ask questions and discover can be difficult. What I have learned from our readings and videos the past two weeks though, is that this type of learning isn’t just a student free-for-all. While I knew that in the back of my head it wasn’t, it was still a little intimidating. Now that I have seen how inquiry based learning can take place in so many ways, it seems like planning for different types of inquiry is essential. I loved to learn that teacher-directed, student-teacher shared, and student-directed inquiry are all possible, intertwined, and can work for any lesson type and subject area. So I’d say what really changed for me is the idea that this type of learning can be used immediately and effectively without any planning or daily routine nightmares. I wrote in my previous post that I understand inquiry based learning can be implemented immediately, and can be used with things we already do and use in our classrooms, but the readings and videos really helped put that into perspective.

So for me, what has really changed is just a deeper understanding of types of inquiry and how they actually work in the classroom. Last week’s research also really helped me understand and value process skills needed for our students to be successful in the future. I really noted that these skills need to be taught, and we can’t assume that our kids simply know process skills and can problem solve. Problem solving itself is a skill, and I think teachers forget how essential it is to teach those skills and not assume our kids will just “get it eventually”. With that being said, the ambition of the Framework for 21st Century Learning is both admirable and amazingly useful for all educators as we move forward to prepare our students in this ever-changing and competitive world.