The Path to Inquiry

My Synthesis of Modules 1 – 4

As a way to synthesize all of the information in Modules 1 – 4, I grabbed my fine-tip markers and some paper, then got creative.  Well, maybe not creative, but certainly colourful, with keywords and quotes from the readings.  Module 1 provides the reasons and research for using inquiry in the library/learning commons, and classroom.  The quote from Barb Stripling’s 2008 article,  “Inquiry: Inquiring Minds Want to Know” succinctly defines inquiry.  Module 2 explains the most common models, while Module 3 explains the components needed to create an environment of inquiry.  Finally,  Module 4 outlines the necessity of collaboration between Teacher-Librarians (TLs) and teachers to create a learning culture that encourages participation, co-planning and communication.

While creating my synthesis, I had a AHA! Moment.  I am an adult who has completed many years of schooling (and continues to learn on a daily basis), is an extremely proficient reader, and able to synthesize information quite readily, but taking this information and writing a brief, interesting and enjoyable blog post, proved a Herculean task on a warm, sunny day.  So, I wonder, do my students feel this overwhelmed when I explain the inquiry process and teach them the lessons needed to move through the cycle?  Inquiring more deeply into inquiry will hopefully provide some strategies to clarify the process, for myself and my students.  So, what path will I need to follow to better understand inquiry?

Why Should I Use Inquiry With My Students?

Inquiry allows students to explore questions about topics that connect to their own world, and when students can connect learning to their world, they are more engaged, and learning is more meaningful.  During the process of exploring their questions, students are gaining necessary multi-modal literacies to become independent learners able to function in our global society (LLED 469, Module 1, Page 2, 2017).  My goal as a TL is to ensure my students understand ‘how to learn’ about information.  In today’s digital world of Google and Wikipedia, finding information is not an issue, it is understanding what to do with the information when it is found.  Marlene Asselin and Ray Dorion’s 2008 Meta-Study, Towards A Transformative Pedagogy for School Libraries, determined that in order for students to be successful in our ever-changing global world, that we need to ensure our students master new literacies, which include the following skills:

(Asselin & Doiron, 2008 – As quoted in LLED 469, Module 1)   [*An interesting observation is the close connection between these multi-modal literacies and the Core Competencies outlined in the new BC Curriculum, but that is for a future blog post.]

Which Inquiry Model?

 

In previous courses in the Teacher-Librarian Diploma program, I have discussed different inquiry models [See 2016/10/10, 2017/01/28].  Previously, I used the Scholastic Inquiry Process with my students.  It was simple and easy to follow, and the questions helped guide the students during the process.  Upon further reflection, I prefer the simplicity of the Points of Inquiry.  [I also prefer the Points of Inquiry Collaborative Planning Guides.]  This is the model that I will use for creating my Inquiry Plan for Assignment 3, and the one I will use with my students during the next school year.

Michelle Wright’s ‘The Model of Inquiry’, is based on Barbara Striplings’ Process of Inquiry, as is the BCTLA’s The Points of Inquiry.  I like the simplicity of her video and will share this with my staff as I know some struggle with how to implement inquiry in their classroom.

What Next?

In order to create an inquiry mindset and encourage a collaborative environment for planning, collaborating and co-teaching, it is important to have a firm understanding of the inquiry process.  I have been using the Scholastic Inquiry Process with my students for the last two years with some success, but I feel there are still some components of the process that need tweaking and improving,  particularly the ‘Express’ and Reflect’ points. I am comfortable with expressing my learning and reflecting upon it, but this is a skill that needs to be taught to my students.  Currently my Grade 5, 6, and 7 students are working on Genius Hour Projects. We have completed the first three points – connect and wonder, investigate and construct – and are going to present their projects soon.   I plan to teach students how to give constructive feedback to their peers, and then teach the students how to reflect upon their own work, comments from myself, and their peers.  As I am in the midst of the inquiry process with my students, I can use this experience to reflect upon my own understanding of the Points of Inquiry, and use this knowledge when creating my Inquiry Unit for Assignment 3, and using inquiry in the future.

REFERENCES

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