Inquiry-Based Learning Using a Concept Driven Curriculum
Our Challenge for Learning in the 21st-Century We want students to: • Find problems • Integrate knowledge from multiple subjects, sources and media • Think critically (analyze, synthesize, evaluate) • Collaborate with peers, local and global communities • Learn how to learn - become life-long learners • Become responsible citizens (develop and instill core values, moral intelligence) • Become globally-minded
Traditional Conception of curriculum A traditional design of curriculum emphasizes the lower cognitive levels (knowledge, comprehension) centering around topics and related facts. It engages students no higher than the topic.
What is a concept-based curriculum? • A concept is an idea that is timeless, abstract, broad and can be shown through a variety of examples. • Examples of a concept: Power, Change, Identity, Perspective, Conflict, Time, Waste • Examples of the concept ‘CHANGE’ can be found in social studies(historical events), science (erosion, energy resources), literature (characters), health (puberty), math (ways of representing numbers)
Changing the Focus • We need to change the focus of curriculum and instruction from teaching topics to ‘using topics’ to teach and assess deeper conceptual understanding. • Concept knowledge transfers across time and cultures. It provides a conceptual structure for thinking about related and new ideas. It is a lifelong developmental process. • Conceptual understanding requires higher-level integrative thinking skills that need to be taught systematically through all levels of schooling. Integrated thinking is the ability to insightfully draw patterns and connections between related facts, ideas and examples, and to synthesize information at a conceptual level. • As students progress through the grades, they build conceptual structures in the brain as they relate new experiences and knowledge to past learning. Erickson, H. Lynn(2002) Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction. Teaching Beyond the facts. Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, California pp 7-8
Concept Maps In the age of information overload, students need a mind map (graphic organizer) to pattern and sort information. Concept maps provide a way of organizing and connecting information. • Start with a ‘concept’ or ‘central idea’ • Branch out from a more complex idea to a less complex ideas. It often ends with an example. • Use connecting lines and linking words to state the relationship between the concepts.
Inquiry-Based Learning Inquiry is a method of learning in which students are encouraged to recognize and state problems, to ask questions about these problems in a manner that allows them to pursue answers and to recognize that these answers are both the final product and the starting point for further study.
A Model of Inquiry Learning Although Inquiry-based learning can be used as an instructional approach for a specific topic or lesson, it can also be used as a curricular framework in which to approach student learning.
Guidelines for developing effective units of inquiry The Written Curriculum Stage 1: What is our purpose? • Concept • Central idea • An inquiry into: (Sask curriculum connections, shared values, circle of courage) Stage 2: What resources will we use? • Sask curriculum guides • Range of perspectives - resources from different cultures Stage 3: What do we want to learn? • Teacher Guiding Questions • Student Inquiry Questions
The Taught Curriculum Stage 4: How best will we learn?(differentiated learning, multiple intelligences, technology integration, problem-based, CEL’s) -The activities should be open enough to include student input and include student interest. Authentic connections -The activities should develop further understanding of the central idea, an inquiry into and teacher/student questions. The Learned Curriculum Stage 5: How will we know what we have learned? -Outlines assessment at all different stages of learning during the unit. (formative, summative) -Use a variety of assessments (KWL, Concept-maps, Reflections, Projects, etc) -Student self-assessment How will we take action? - students demonstrate their ability to choose, act, reflect -students use their knowledge, skills beyond themselves Stage 6: To what extent did we achieve our purpose? • Teacher reflections • Student feedback
All units of inquiry follow a similar format • Tuning In • Finding Out • Sorting Out • Making Conclusions • Reflecting and Taking Action
Developing a Central Idea • Determines the focus of the unit • Is written as a broad statement • Is clear and concise • Is worth knowing and true • Is value free • Globally Transferable • Can be studied at any age • Has a degree of complexity • Has a degree of ambiguity that promotes discovery
Examples of Central Ideas Concept: How the World Works Central Idea: Humans are dependent on a variety of natural resources each having its own unique properties and uses Concept: Identity Central Idea:All living things on Earth have unique characteristics and classifications that provide them with an identity. Concept: How we organize ourselves Central Idea: People migrate from place to place for different reasons and they affect their new communities in a variety of ways. Concept: Power Central Idea: Power in the form of authority, influence or force is acquired by having superior resources, greater numbers or more effective organization
Using Foundational Objectives and CEL’s • Foundational objectives can guide the formation of the central idea • Foundational objectives can guide the formation of the teacher guided questions • Focusing on the foundational objectives allows you as the teacher to compact the curriculum and differentiate by sifting through facts, language, and activities that take up time • CEL’s can help focus the units activities based on the teacher and student questions. They can help determine if you are too overloaded in one subject or skill set area.
How can students learn to be inquirers? Classroom activities that promote inquiry: • Riddle or problem of the week • Lateral thinking games (Mind Trap) • Quotes to respond and ask questions about • Games involving questions (20 questions, Mind Trap, Head bands, Hoopla, Cranium) • Bloom’s Taxonomy (Leaning to formulate questions at different levels - dice game, fly swatter game) • Reflective writing, response journals • Field trips • Think/pair/ share • KWL charts • Simulations, scenarios • Primary sources
Our Inquiry Journey What is working? • Students are more engaged in learning (more discovery and questioning occurring) • Accommodates all ability levels and interests (differentiation is more achievable) • More student-centered activities • Students are more involved with planning and assessment • Team teaching approach to planning, assessment, and reflection (less work for us) • Students are becoming better researchers and beginning to ask better questions • Compacted curriculum • Continuity of unit structure • Able to make cross-curricular connections
What do we need to improve? • Open up the units to be more student driven - too much front loading still and focus on teacher guiding questions • Help students to become better inquirers • Portfolio assessments • More science related activities and art projects (We are too Social Studies driven) • Determine specific key assessment tasks • Build concept map earlier on and revisit it at each stage
How are students responding? • Takes time for students to adjust • Some students have shown great enthusiasm and some have not bought in yet • Students appreciate choice and enjoy their personal inquiry projects • Students enjoy collaborative work • Students are beginning to understand the process • Less behavioral issues during class time • Students are making connections with their own experiences and asking related questions • Some students still want facts to memorize and cannot fully grasp the central idea • Students are becoming more creative • Students are becoming more technologically literate
References • http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/ • http://www.exploratorium.edu/ifi/resources/classroom/connect/ • http://eduscapes.com/info/inquiry.html • http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic43.htm • http://www.inquiry.uiuc.edu/ • http://www.youthlearn.org/learning/approach/inquiry.asp • http://www.biopoint.com/msla/links.html • http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/methodology/inquiry.shtml • http://www.helsinki.fi/science/networkedlearning/eng/delete.html#new • http://www.ibo.org/pyp/ • http://www.ltag.education.tas.gov.au/Planning/models/princbackdesign.htm • http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/inquiry/index.html • http://www.ed.arizona.edu/short/Publications/Examining%20our%20beliefs.pdf • Erickson, H. Lynn(2002) Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction. Teaching Beyond the facts. Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, California pp 7-8