Inquiry-based learning

Still working on Gadzikowski (2013)… and still ignoring (and omitting) her notion of ‘exceptionally bright’ children… Gadzikowski covers Inquiry-Based Learning in her chapter on science. Gadzikowski (2013) writes:

“Inquiry-based learning is a learning process that is driven by children’s questions. it is not about the need to teach children predetermined concepts or facts. Using children’s questions to drive the curriculum, whether by adopting the scientific process or by using other curriculum structures, results in a rich, participatory learning experience […].” (p.102)

Steps in Developing an Emergent Project

  1. “Teachers observe children’s play and conversations, taking note of possible topics for study. Ideally, teachers lead a consensus-building process among themselves and the children to determine the topic of focus. 
  2. Teachers lead activities (for example, story dictation and discussion that reveal what children already know about the topic.
  3. Children brainstorm questions and conduct research using books and primary sources (such as field trips, nature walks, and interviews).
  4. Children design ways to share their findings, through drawings, photos, dictation, sculpture, and dramatization.
  5. Teachers facilitate children’s reflection and self-evaluation. Children review the original questions they asked about the topic and reflect on what they learned.” (p.102)

“These inquiry-based, emergent approaches are particularly suited for exploring science topics because of the emphasis on open-ended exploration and discovery.” (p.103) [I question here her conception of ‘science topics’; what is a ‘science topic’ exactly; by extension, and more to the point, if there is such a thing as a ‘science topic’, what is not a ‘science topic’? She elaborates a little over the next pages]

“Looking through a catalog of children’s books, you might get the impression that science is just about nature and animals. Those are the topics most commonly addressed in an early childhood curriculum. But some […] children develop a special interest and aptitude for engineering and technology. These are important branches of science as well. A child with an intense curiosity about how things work needs opportunities to take things apart. Finding machines and appliances that can be safely deconstructed can be a challenge. Because computers, televisions, and many electronics contain chemicals and other hazardous materials, children should not be allowed to dismantle them. [I would qualify this: unless you know what you are doing and can support such enquiry safely!]” (p.105)

“Technology is both a tool for teaching science and a subject of science study. The National Science Foundation and other leading groups in science and education use the acronym STEM to refer to four subjects: science, technology, engineering and math. STEM educators and researchers advocate for the development and expansion of education that integrates all four subjects using innovative and engaging learning experiences.” (p.105) Gadzikowski refers us to www.pbs.org/teachers/stem and to www.learner.org/interactives/parkphysics/index.html.

She also refers us to www.archkidecture.org.

Gadzikowski also writes: “If a child has a genuine passion for a science topic, whether the topic is trains or whales or bonsai gardening, and there are no other children who are interested in that subject, it is time to help that child develop an individual project, much like a college student would develop an independent study project.” (p.104) [I do like this analogy]

“Teachers should … look for opportunities to engage other children in the process, such as inviting the child to present the progress of her research at morning circle time.”

Ref: Ann Gadzikowski (2013) Challenging Exceptionally Bright Children in Early Childhood Classrooms. Redleaf Press: St. Paul, MN; NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children): Washington

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
This entry was posted in early years education, Metaphors and Narratives around children and learners, Understanding Education and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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