Response to the dry spell…

Hi Al,

Thanks for posting your honest self-reflection, in which you wondered if/where the inquiry has gone.

“… I didn’t know if I wasn’t thinking inquiry because I haven’t been doing any inquiry with my students or because inquiry is so well integrated that I just don’t think about it. So that’s the topic of my first post on Inquire Within after two years of not posting.”

My role includes facilitating collaborative planning with teams of teachers for units of inquiry, which sometimes include science. I like to think I know a bit about inquiry, but I admit I don’t know much about science. I’d love some ideas for weaving science through other areas of learning.

So I propose we do a trade – I’ll make some suggestions about inquiry and, in return, you can share some possibilities for science.

I’ll start off right here, in full view, so that others can weigh in too. You can respond publicly or privately… either way it can be a collaborative inquiry of mutual benefit!

Let’s revisit what inquiry learning might look like. There are many different versions and perspectives on Inquire Within and I’m sure others will add their contributions.

Here’s a description of inquiry as I see it, with some of the key characteristics borrowed from the IB Primary Years Program handbook. 

Inquiry encourages students to be actively involved in and to take responsibility for their own learning. Inquiry learning allows each student’s understanding of the world to develop in a manner and at a rate  unique to that student. The starting point is students’ current understanding, and the goal is the active construction of meaning through:

  • exploring, wondering and questioning
  • experimenting and playing with possibilities
  • making connections between previous learning and current learning
  • making predictions and acting purposefully to see what happens
  • collecting data and reporting findings
  • clarifying existing ideas and reappraising perceptions of events
  • deepening understanding through the application of a concept
  • making and testing theories
  • researching and seeking information
  • taking and defending a position
  • solving problems in a variety of ways.    (Making the PYP Happen)

I have a few questions for you to think about…

1. Do you think the learning in your science classes includes some of the elements mentioned above? 

2. Have you considered beginning a new unit with a hook or provocation to stimulate curiosity, rather than introducing the topic yourself?

3. Are you willing to shift from ‘delivering curriculum’ and, rather than covering, provide opportunities for discovering and uncovering by the learners?

4. Can you think of ways you might use the model below? (Or rather, ways the learners might use it…)

Scientific Inquiry Cycle

 Your turn…

Edna

Scientific Inquiry Cycle by Elizabeth Solomon

About whatedsaid

Teaching and Learning Coordinator at an IB PYP school in Melbourne, Australia. I'm a teacher, a learner, an inquirer...
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9 Responses to Response to the dry spell…

  1. Pingback: Response to the dry spell… | Inquire Within | Learning Curve

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  4. hkteach says:

    Hi Edna,
    Here we go: Page 93 of Making the PYP Happen begins the chapter on Science in the PYP. The first paragraph is:

    “In the PYP, science is viewed as the exploration of the biological, chemical and physical aspects of the natural world, and the relationships between them. Our understanding of science is constantly changing and evolving. The inclusion of science within the PYP leads learners to an appreciation and awareness of the world as it is viewed from a scientific perspective. It encourages curiosity and ingenuity and enables the student to develop an understanding of the world. Reflection on scientific knowledge also helps students to develop a sense of responsibility regarding the impact of their actions on themselves, others and their world. Inquiry is central to scientific investigation and understanding. Students actively construct and challenge their understanding of the world around them by combining scientific knowledge with reasoning and thinking skills. Scientific knowledge is made relevant through its innumerable applications in the real world. The science process, by encouraging hands-on experience and inquiry, enables the Inquiry encourages students to be actively involved in and to take responsibility for their own learning. “ (Making the PYP Happen)

    I believe that the Scientific process is a natural process of inquiry.

    On Pg 97, the IB lists the 8 science skills that should be addressed, developed and assessed:

    Students are encouraged to:
    • observe carefully in order to gather data
    • use a variety of instruments and tools to measure data accurately
    • use scientific vocabulary to explain their observations and experiences
    • identify or generate a question or problem to be explored
    • plan and carry out systematic investigations, manipulating variables as necessary
    • make and test predictions
    • interpret and evaluate data gathered in order to draw conclusions
    • consider scientific models and applications of these models (including their limitations).

    Developing these scientific skills, can only lead to a further development of inquiry skills.

    In the PYP, Science is not a separate subject but is addressed through an interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary approach. Neither is it content driven, but more of a conceptual approach.

    So to answer your questions:
    1. Do you think the learning in your science classes includes some of the elements mentioned above?
    Our learning about, through and in Science would include all of these elements above.

    2. Have you considered beginning a new unit with a hook or provocation to stimulate curiosity, rather than introducing the topic yourself? This is normal practice for us – for our next unit – we have organized an ‘egg drop’ challenge. This is our provocation and our pre-assessment. What designs do they come up with? What language is being used? What misconceptions are being shared? What predictions do they have? Can they defend / re-examine their predictions?
    Our Grade 1s are making ice-cream as a provocation – being led through the process from raw to ice cream.
    We have also visited the Science labs in Secondary and shown ‘magic tricks’ – to introduce the idea of chemical and physical reactions.
    My favourite was in G5 – a unit on Human body systems – we got lungs, liver, kidneys, hearts from the butcher – Once the kids had got over the initial ‘eww’ factor, it was so wonderful to watch them exploring, wondering, questioning and discovering. Our biology teacher blew up the lungs – wow! So many questions…….

    3. Are you willing to shift from ‘delivering curriculum’ and, rather than covering, provide opportunities for discovering and uncovering by the learners? Have I answered this for you?

    4. Can you think of ways you might use the model below? (Or rather, ways the learners might use it…)
    I love the graphic! WOW! I wonder if we could adapt it to create something similar for Social Studies?

    Thanks for sharing –

    Like

  5. Shalini says:

    Hi Edna,
    We have used this model successfully in some of our classrooms. We created our own version as I noticed the letter ‘s’ missing from the word Hypothesize!.
    I love reading your blog.
    Thank you for the sharing.

    Like

  6. Pingback: Inquiry in Science | Inquire Within

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