Inquiry Learning: It Starts With Me!

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Inquiry learning is a concept I encountered blindly when beginning this course.  I had a goal to learn more about it and how to apply it in my classroom, of course, but for the most part I’d been under the impression, even until this week, that inquiry learning is all about what I’m able to get my students to accomplish.  I was so focused on this process by which I could get my students to take control of their learning that I failed to see that truly, inquiry learning starts with me!  Inquiry learning truly is a process, and preparing for that process is just as important as implementing it.  In her article titled “Five Roles of the Inquiry Teacher,” Shelley Wright describes some the of the hiccups involved in the inquiry-based classroom and how important the teacher’s role is in helping students to overcome those issues.  In preparing for this, I’ve learned that I must prepare by asking myself, “What difficulties and questions might students have with this?” and try to prepare solutions for these issues should they arrive.  However, I can’t very-well give them the solutions, can I?  Not with inquiry learning!  Therefore, I must also prepare to help students find those solutions.  This in itself embodies the definition of inquiry-based learning.


I currently teach 9th grade literature.  For my mini-lessons, I plan to explore a concept I teach in my first unit of the year, “The Stages of the Hero’s Journey.”  I normally teach the stages and assign a very specific project in which students use a chosen movie to demonstrate their understanding of the stages.  However, I’d like to explore ways for students to “discover” these stages and demonstrate their understanding in a new way.  I will give more opportunities for the use of technology in not only research, but also in presentation.  Perhaps they will even make their own movies to demonstrate the stages!


Blog #5: Progressing Toward Learning Goals

  1. One learning goal I have set for myself related to this class is to learn a variety of ways to apply inquiry-based learning in my classroom.
  2. A second learning goal I have is to be able to synthesize information (especially when I’m overwhelmed with so much of it!) to determine what strategies will work best in particular contexts.


Reflecting on the learning goals I set for myself at the beginning of the course, I do see that, although I haven’t yet reached them, I have made some solid progression toward my goals.  Each week I am learning more and more about inquiry-based learning and ways to apply it in my classroom.  Even this week, we read about establishing a growth mindset in our students and classroom culture.  I’ve learned that if I can instill and nurture a growth mindset in my students, I will be equipping them to be lifelong learners and to carry that mindset with them against any challenging task.   I loved the quote that Eduardo Briceno gave from Josh Waitzkin: “The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability, we will be brittle in the face of adversity.”

My second goal dealt with the ability to synthesize information; however, I feel the need to edit that to include the ability to curate information for my students and their particular needs. I now see that that starts with teaching them the skills needing to be good digital citizens as well as competent with Digital Information Fluency (DIF).  The findings from the research by Miller and Bartlett show that there is a major discrepancy in students’ need to use the internet/search engines and their ability to do it correctly and safely.  I do like the idea of having that curated list of resources for my students related to ethical use; however, I still would like to learn more about curating.  What makes me an expert on what my students should be using?  How do I truly avoid “filtering”?  Am I limiting them by having them use my list instead of finding their own resources?  These are the thoughts and questions I’m left with as I proceed through the course.