Scientific Inquiry and Technology

Structured inquiry: Inquiry in which the teacher provides a set problem and students perform the expected results, or students are given limited resources to use when applying inquiry skills.

Guided inquiry: Inquiry in which a teacher provides support and additional information when needed using inquiry skills.

Student-initiated inquiry: Inquiry in which the teacher provides minimal assistance and the students are in charge of the investigation. (Definitions from "Scientific Inquiry and the Picture-Word Inductive Model" by The Learning House, Inc)

Example One

This is an example of structured inquiry in a kindergarten classroom.  Structure is paramount for young learners, as evident by the little girl asking a question about space when the lesson is clearly about earthworms!  :)  In a early childhood classroom, it is very important for the teacher to keep the learners on track.  I thought this teacher did a good job of keeping the lesson on track, while allowing for their own thoughts and "discoveries" to emerge.  I was disappointed that the entire lesson was not included, as I am curious to see to the results.  I think a document camera would work great so all students could watch the worm on the screen, instead of cramming around the box.

Example Two

I really like this blog about the Reggio Emilia philosophy, which is a type of teaching style where provocations (inquiries!) drive the activities in the classroom.  The provocations can come from teachers, students, the community, etc.  I would classify this approach as guided inquiry because of this element.  This Kindergarten teachers site is full of inquiry based activities.  In one of her posts on February 2, 2014 entitled "Zooming in on Technology," she talks about utilizing a digital microscope.  During discovery time, the children approached her and asked to look at different classroom objects through the microscope by using it to take pictures on the laptop.  They then made a game out of these experimental pics.  The kids were able to take a picture and write a clue for the other students to make a guess of the object.  What a great example of student-driven inquiry!

Example Three

This site shows an excellent example of structured inquiry as their class studies snails.  I think that it is neat that the teacher used Twitter and Skype to connect to other classes, also learning about snails.  These types of inter-classroom connections is how I am most interested in implementing technology in my future classroom.

Example Four

In this example of structured inquiry, a school uses student ideas to drive their project-based lessons in the Kindergarten classes.  For example, a class pet died, so the teacher worked her curriculum to follow the theme of a funeral for their pet.  The school utilizes SMART boards and the internet to help students learn new information.

Example Five

I really enjoyed this video of structured inquiry.  The teacher brings up a very good point about inquiry-based learning in general.  It is about the process.  There are no successes or failures on the first attempt.  The point of the experience is to acknowledge and make adjustments so the learning is stronger, deeper, and more meaningful.  Another important key is to document these attempts, so others can see this process.  This teacher just used pencil and paper, but I think it would be fun to use digital cameras for visual reminders.