Inquiry Based Learning Final Thoughts

As I end the inquiry-based learning course, I am amazed at how my inquiry understanding has deepened.  Even after 20 years of teaching using questioning and having students provide evidence of their learning, I still have evolved my experience.

Inquiry-based learning is a way to have students explore how to learn.  When teachers use inquiry in their classrooms, students learn critical thinking.  Students are gaining experience to provide justification and evidence for their understanding.  They are spending time on the higher-level thinking skills of Bloom’s taxonomy.  Students need to evaluate information and synthesize old and new knowledge.  They have a teacher as a mentor, guide, and facilitator, not just as the person who has all the control.  This is crucial for students to become well-rounded individuals.

My biggest takeaway is that students gain more control of the classroom.  Students having control does not mean it is a constant party, and no learning is happening as many may think.  This also does not mean that the teacher isn’t planning and providing instruction.  The instruction and content exist; the teacher has carefully planned and organized the lesson to ensure the content is present.  Learning is messy and should be messy.  Students should grapple with the material and create their connections to the learning.  This is how they become invested in their education.  This is inquiry-based learning.  

As I continue to teach, I plan to guide students towards inquiry.  I will continue to constantly supply my students with endless questions and guidance on the material.   I will start with guided and spend time teaching students how to learn.  I will discuss perfectionism, rubrics, learning, and feedback with students.  We will become partners in teaching and learning.  I will slowly adapt students from guided inquiry to student-driven inquiry.  I have begun to see how I can scaffold materials, lessons, and assessments to aid all levels of students. 

Finally, I am refining my ability to explain to students my teaching methodology for them to understand what they are experiencing.  This is so important to me; students can find great anxiety to learn through discovery and are nervous about failing.  I am learning how to redefine failure and learning from mistakes to help ease these nerves.  I have continued to evolve and model lifelong learning for my students. 

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