Curious Classroom Book Study: Learn With Partners and Pioneers

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Chapter 10

Inside This Chapter

In this last chapter, you'll find ideas of how you might find support if you are interested in pursuing a path of inquiry in your classroom.  One suggestion the book offers is to study "the pioneers" and goes on to describe the inquiry approach implemented by three lead school districts.  Author Harvey Daniels sums up the chapter with the big takeaways from these "pathfinding"schools and includes:
  • Get others into your classroom and get yourself into theirs.
  • Reach out to your colleagues, and start doing small projects together.
  • Make friends with your principal through your kids and their work.
  • Take advantage of district PD; if it's not available, ask for what you need.
  • If you have a coach, bond with her or him.
  • As Steve Newcomer recommends; let it go, take a risk, and have fun.

What I've Tried

For as long as I can remember I have been interested in inquiry-based teaching.  I think it probably began back in college where I first learned about the constructivist approach and the work of John Dewey and Jerome Bruner.  

Most recently, I have been inspired by the work of teachers in Canada and elsewhere that use an inquiry approach in kindergarten (you can find my favorites listed under the Inspiration tab). 

Staff at Eason Elementary School note that "inquiry has become a way of life."  "We don't "do" inquiry, we live it everyday."  

Inquiry is not a program or a procedure. It's a mindset.  I've been watching my own thinking change little by little over the past few years.  Social media has played a big role in that change.  Through following inquiry teachers on blogs and Instagram, I've seen glimpses of a different type of classroom and way of being with children.  These educators have generously shared their classroom setups, provocations, professional development, and documentation, which has led me to slowly figure out my own inquiry path, one puzzle piece at a time.

What I'd Like to Try 

While this is a little unrelated to the big idea of pioneers in this chapter, it was shared as part of Duke School's plan for supporting project-based learning and inquiry work. It is the idea of "touchstone projects."  I understand these to be inquiries that you might repeat each year.  In Reggio Emilia schools, they are called intended projects.  

While some inquiries will be unique to each school year, it makes sense to repeat some, especially when they integrate many areas of your required curriculum.  It also allows you to reuse resources that you may have spent much time and money gathering.  

Since I work in a traditional public school, there are many units I am required to teach.  I'd like to take more of these units and reframe them to include opportunities for inquiry.  You can see how I did this with The Plant Project.  Next year, plants would continue as a "touchstone project," yet the direction it takes will depend upon the children's ideas and wonderings.

Your Turn

What support systems might you use to help you along your inquiry path?  Are there inquiries you have done in the past that you might consider repeating and making a touchstone project?

Next Steps

This chapter ends The Curious Classroom Book Study!  I hope you were able to identify some next steps for yourself as you move forward with inquiry teaching!  If you feel a bit overwhelmed, don't be afraid to choose just one thing and begin there!

I will continue to share my learning journey here and on Instagram as I work to put some of these new ideas into place!

You can find the other chapter summaries here:

Chapter 1: Demonstrate Your Own Curiosity
Chapter 2: Investigate Ourselves and Our Classmates
Chapter 3: Capture and Honor Kids' Questions
Chapter 4: Begin the Day with Soft Starts
Chapter 5: Check Our News Feed
Chapter 6: Hang Out with an Expert
Chapter 7: Pursue Kids' Own Questions with Mini-Inquiries
Chapter 8: Address Curricular Units with Mini-Inquiries
Chapter 9: Lean Into a Crisis

Thanks for stopping by!

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