“Inquiry is not asking questions and finding answers. Inquiry is wrestling with dilemmas and seeking epiphanies. Inquiry is being comfortable living in the soup.” – Educon, 2013
As part of an in-class exploration, we collaboratively unpacked the Crab Apple Jelly “Me to We” Project currently being inquired on by students at Mother Teresa Middle School in Regina, Saskatchewan. Alongside the inquiry-based learning process, we mapped out a project plan – outlining what a project such as this might look like in a middle years classroom.
We began by discussing a time-frame by which we thought this project would occur, taking into consideration time accounted for brainstorming, collecting materials, canning the jelly and selling the product. My lack of experience with actual implementation of inquiry-based learning in a middle years classroom led me to believe we may have over-projected time-wise. However, we would want our students to unpack the experience to the extent they so chose to – taking as little or as much time as needed, within reason.
Upon delving into the Saskatchewan curriculum, we quickly found that making cross-curricular connections would not be an issue – the basis of the project fit seamlessly into almost every subject area. I believe that cross-curricular connections are an important aspect of inquiry-based learning, as it allows for easy transition between subject areas, while allowing students to make meaningful connections throughout the broad areas of learning. A learning experience that encompasses ample opportunities for personal growth provides the framework for shared experiences to occur in the classroom and community – as evident in the Crab Apple Jelly Project.
We included an exploration alongside Treaty Education into the project plan as we felt as though it was an integral component to student learning. There were multiple areas by which connections could be made within the Treaty Education Outcomes & Indicators Document; however, we chose the outcomes found to be most significant focusing on Treaty relationships and worldviews. Additionally, assessment and differentiation work hand-in-hand during an inquiry-based learning experience, as the tools and strategies used must reflect student interest, learning styles and the foundation of student learning within the project itself. A brief break-down of exemplar assessment strategies can be found in the image below (KWL chart, journaling, conversations/dialogue, visual representations, etc.).
Throughout the remainder of my pre-internship, I hope to further explore inquiry-based learning alongside the students in my co-operative classroom. I presume there will be a combination of successes and challenges; feelings of triumph and defeat; multiple ‘detours’ along the way – all of which will keep the experience interesting! Let’s face it – inquiry-based learning, you’ve got a good thing goin’ on!