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Reflections on Inquiry-Based Learning

Review two or more of the four handouts:

Dual Inquiry

Stipling Model of Inquiry

Lessons of Powerful Learning (How we learn)

Analyzing Primary Sources Teacher's Guide

If prompts are helpful, here are a few suggestions:

Have you integrated Inquiry Method into your teaching?

Which model do you see as useful to you?

How does an awareness of yourself as a Teacher Learner improve your teaching?

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  • Reflection #1
        After reading and synthesizing information from both articles What Does It Mean to Think Historically... and How Do You Teach It? (B. VanSledright) and What Does It Mean to Think Historically? (T. Andrews & F. Burke) I connected the value and use of primary source with student learning. Students need the opportunity to use maps, photographs, and documents to strengthen their knowledge to scaffold their thinking and processing in everyday life and research.
        The first article by VanSledright, shared “source work” and the steps used to assess each source. He pointed out the difference between “history (product of their investigations) and the past (traces adn artifacts that remain- historical data”. Four assessments mentioned were Identification, Attribution, Judging Perspective, and Reliability. He closes with sharing “Good historical thinkers are tolerant of differing perspectives...[that] help them make sense of the past.”
        The second article by Andrews and Burke, emphasized the “five C’s of historical thinking”. The 5 concepts include: change over time, context, causality, contingency and complexity. When identifying change, students are aware of technological advancements and areas in life that are altered and/or remain unchanged over a period of time. Context is the platform to introduce good storytelling to share the specifics of past eras. Causality employs the use of primary sources in debates and role-playing. Contingency is defined as the dependency of conditions and the interconnectedness among historical events and outcomes. Complexity can be modeled through debate using primary sources. Analysis and application of the five C’s will help students engage in thought provoking research of primary sources and will scaffold their learning.

    Reflection #2
        The Stripling Model is an inquiry based learning engages students in active learning experiences that require them to use questioning and critical thinking skills. Six phases are reviewed in the Stripling Model.
        The Connect phase previous knowledge and explore primary sources and practice thinking skills. Wonder phase allows students to develop focus questions. Investigating promotes students to answer focus questions using primary and secondary sources. Construct phase has students organize and make conclusions to debate their findings. During the Express phase students share their knowledge and understanding from their primary source research by producing a demonstration, poster or article. The concluding phase, Reflect gives students the opportunity to think of what they’ve learned from their research and develop additional thoughts or prepare questions for a new topic.
        Overall the Stripling Model supports critical thinking, questioning, inferencing, perspective, analytical skills that link primary sources to subjects needing evidentiary support.

  • I like the Analying Primary Sources resource.  This is a great resource and format for getting students to think and reflect on the sources that they find. In preschool, children often look at pictures and objects and they try to describe them.  It is nice to see this continued challenge and growth occur.

    The dual inquiry resource is handy for reminding me of what I want my students to learn and how to help them to inquire.  I like the question from this resource, "what do my findings mean in the context of now/ future?"  I think social studies should be meaningful and appreciated by students.  I think giving them choices of study topics helps peak their interest and it helps the students to drive their own interest.

    Another question I like from this resource is, "what media, or technology will demonstrate the learning?"  I think that the Library of Congress provides me with an excellent resource to combine technology and social studies.  It helps me to meet the focus of this question.

  • During my graduate school experience we were asked to diagram how we visualized the learning process.  The image I drew was a spiral that resembled the Dual Inquiry because it most closely reflected the experiences that I had when coaching athletes on the field.  I was pleased to find that this model held up in the classroom as well. 

    The Dual Inquiry model handout also includes reflection which is not a part of the model that I had envisioned. I am assuming that the term reflection is a step that includes the potential for failure. My experiences told me that students need to experiment with information and that the experimentation must be taken to a point of failure in order for the student to understand the limits of what the concept will embrace.  The classroom is no different than the athletic field.  Students need to be able to take information and manipulate it to a point that it “fails” for them.  Only then will the student claim ownership and true understanding.

  • For this reflection I focused on the two handouts:  “How We Learn” and “Analyzing Primary Resources”.   The summary titled “How We Learn” is dense and ripe for contemplation.  I was a classroom educator for fifteen years. Now my education focus has shifted - I am at home raising four preschoolers and I intend to homeschool. 

    I see truth in both the behaviorist and constructivist approaches.  Very small children are very obviously molded by their environment.  External rewards and consequences dramatically affect my preschoolers’ choices.  Like most parents, I am deliberate in how I present information; for example, I teach letters and sounds before the teaching parts of a sentence.

    Yet strict behaviorism is incomplete if it does not recognize the beauty and complexity of human thought.  The constructivist theory is also evident in the way my young children learn.  They are constantly making connections between the books we read and their everyday experiences.  My boys are keenly interested in subjects that I have little affinity for such as dinosaurs, space exploration and construction equipment.  Though my children’s learning is definitely guided, they are intrinsically motivated to understand and learn about the world.

    The “Analyzing Primary Sources” guide is a concise tool that can be employed in a variety of educational settings.  The “observe, reflect and question” prompts could be used over and over to help students delve into a variety of primary resources.  Young children are often directed to note details in both shared and independent reading.  Observing, reflecting and questioning primary resources are skills already partially acquired by very young children.  The “Analyzing Primary Sources” handout is an excellent tool to help students deepen their understanding of history.

    Karin Owens

    Reflection on Inquiry Based Learning

  • I found the handout on Dual Inquiry:Making Inquiry Thinking Transparent useful for reflection on teaching and learning.  I hadn't thought about the shifting roles of teacher as learner and teacher as teacher.  I want to try to focus more on what I want to learn in structured class situations and how I learn best. I want to begin to purposely think about the inquiry model as detailed in this handout.  I also think that reflecting on this model will make me a better/more responsive teacher.

    I also found the Analyzing Primary Sources Teacher's Guide informative and I think it will be useful.  It will help me hlep students focus on primary source "texts".   I sometimes use Inquiry Based Learning in my lessons but it is a hit and miss affair--nothing structured or on-going.  I am thinking about changing my approach and this guide and the gathering sheet will help.    


  • Reflections on Inquiry-based Learning

    Have I utilized Inquiry based learning in my classroom?  The answer is yes, partially.  Looking at how we learn with the Industrial and Information Theories, I can with certainty say that some of both are used in my classroom.  However, I have made great efforts to move more toward Powerful Learning.   My students were given the opportunity to take ownership for their own learning. Students suddenly realized during the second semester that teacher did not give or have all the answers.  They had to find them (discover, construct,) by themselves while I was coach and observer.  This handout is helpful in that it shows the expectation for powerful learning succinctly and affirms some of what I’ve been doing with my class.

    The Dual Inquiry handout causes me to take a closer look at myself.  I particularly appreciate the inquiry questions as a learner and a teacher. The steps listed and the questions posed are especially helpful when I think of writing my lesson plans and planning activities that will incorporate inquiry.   This handout also helps me view myself from a student’s perspective. What is it I’m supposed to learn?  What do I want to learn? These questions remind me to examine thoroughly what I have planned to teach.

    Perhaps the most used of these handouts will be the Teacher’s Guide to Analyzing Primary Sources.  It encourages powerful learning through the investigation of primary sources. I am anxious to challenge  my students. Thank you for providing this teacher resource.


  • As I read the Dual Inquiry handout I was thinking what is the learner engaged and is the teacher providing opportunities for engagement.  As a teacher I constantly reflect on my teaching.  Do I offer students enough time to reflect on their learning and give feedback to the teacher?  Do I offer enough time for reflection by the student?  In most cases the answer is no to the above questions.  A  question of depth versus breath or quantity versus quality.  Student in all cases benefit by quality.  My students will benefit with more quality reflection time. 

    I find all of the models useful.  Even Industrial Theory is important when teaching basic skills to developing elementary age school children. 

    In science I incorporate the inquiry Method since the units are inquiry based.  To increase inquiry learning in all subjects with Art and P.E. included the school district should adopt more Inquiry based curriculum. As a community of teachers we need to encourage, recognize, and reward teachers integrating the inquiry method.  Promoting inquiry based teaching will flourish with support from administration, teachers, parents, and students. 

    My awareness of myself as a learner improves my teaching because I become engaged in the process on a personal level. 

  • I found the teacher's guide to Analyzing Primary Sources most helpful to take back to my "class" and use immediately.  As Angela commented maybe it is because it is the one that we used in class and really had an opportunity to use.  

    This is the first time I have been introduced to the Stripling Model of Inquiry - evidently I am very behind in my knowledge and understanding of inquiry based teaching.

    The awareness of myself as a Teacher Learner is very helpful as I am thoughtfully analyzing what is or is not working in my lessons and student's understanding and personal use of what is being taught.  I think it may need to analyze and as myself some of the thoughtful questions that were presented in the Teacher as ... Dual Inquiry handout.

  • As a seasoned educator, I think it is exciting to see teachers embracing the ideas of inquiry based learning.  I went to college in the 1970's when these theories were relatively new and somewhat experimental.  However, I can personally attest to the fact that when students are intrinsically motivated, they will make meaning of their learning.  Taking students from the initial hook, "Look at this cool picture," then on to the inquiry, "I wonder what is really happening here?" and then even further on to critical analysis, "How and why did this happen, what were the circumstances around it, and how does this effect my world?" is truly the sign of a great teacher.  One who inspires students to learn and push themselves into that edge of disequilibrium where they have to observe, search, collaborate, and reflect in order to come up with answers often to their own questions.  Authentic assessment is a natural outcome of this type of education.  I aspire to be that type of teacher.  These powerful tools that we are learning in this class will assist me in being a more effective facilitator for my students learning.

    However, as a student and learner, I find this type of learning challenging!  I grew up in the recitation era.  Where we knew what the expectations were, and what we had to do to meet them.  I personally find that place of disequilibrium somewhat uncomfortable.  I also know that it pushes me in a way that lecture and lists never will! 

    For me, personally, the technology piece is my cliff.  I get to a certain point and then I want to back away and revert to my old methods: printing pictures, reading texts, begging, and borrowing primary sources.  I know that pushing myself into the LOC website, downloading URLs and following my own breadcrumbs, with the help of this class, is forcing me out of my own comfort zone and into a new realm of learning to be a more effective 21st century teacher.  It also helps me reflect on some of the questions and doubts my own students express, and hopefully treat them with more empathy and clarity.  Certainly I will continue to press my way through the complexities of ever changing technology and allow my students (and of course learn from them) to delve into these amazing primary sources and tools of the 21st century!

  • I really like the Analyzing Primary Sources template.  It provides a nice structure to guide students through an examination of artifacts or evidence.  It might be interesting present the same artifact or evidence to all the groups and to ask the students to write a "history" based on their observations and reflections. Then we could compare their interpretations and discuss why historians sometimes have trouble reaching a consensus on certain topics.

    Being aware of myself as a Teacher-Learner helps me to recognize possible frustrations our students will experience.  We often ask our children to do/learn things that are so alien to them and it's good for us to experience the same thing.

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