by Phil Petru, Director of Teaching & Learning
During a recent professional development day, our faculty and staff spent the day focused on inquiry-based learning featuring nationally renowned inquiry-based learning expert Diana Laufenberg, whose Ted Talk page has had more than 1.5 million views.
The day began with an opening talk from Diana, which focused on some of the key principles of inquiry-based learning. In particular, the opening session addressed the big ideas of process, student voice and choice, and answering questions with questions. Following Diana’s opening remarks, faculty divided into three groups and attended additional sessions, which provided them with strategies to apply inquiry-based concepts. The sessions were as follows:
LEARNING VISUALLY: Visuals work in the classroom because they grab students and allow an entry point to learning – and because they sum up pages and pages of information that would take a reader hours to process. Interactive infographics make kids want to immediately start clicking around to see what’s what. For a teacher who seeks to create an inquiry-driven classroom, that’s a great starting point. Diana provided a wealth of examples and practical applications for the use of visuals and infographics in the classroom.
INQUIRY – ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Student participation in their education starts with instilling a sense of wonder and curiosity for their own learning which does not come easily. Privileging the student voice in the process of their own learning is critical. In this session, faculty discussed the power of this approach with students of all ages.
EVIDENCING LEARNING (STUDENT VOICE AND CHOICE): Checking for understanding, formative, summative, evaluating, grading…all are tools in the assessment toolbox. The commonality
is affording students a variety of ways to demonstrate or evidence their learning and receive meaningful feedback. Incorporating student voice and choice in the process is critical. Faculty delved into a discussion of assessment from the stand- point of the student, asking the question, “How will I increase the voice and choice of students to evidence their learning?”
The day concluded with division meetings, where the faculty had an opportunity to reflect and discuss their learning for the day. Conversations about inquiry-based learning will continue during grade-level, department, and division meetings for the remainder of the year.