As education continues to move in progressive and innovative realms, we clearly begin to see a paradigm shift from the solely traditional classroom to one in which students begin to ask the questions to develop their own learning.
Inquiry learning involves a student-centred, active learning approach focusing on questioning, critical thinking and problem solving. It is associated with the idea "involve me and I understand." Given the sheer enthusiasm and engagement it enlists from students, you begin to see what I like to call, "The Reese's Peanut Butter Cup effect"...you can't think of one without the other. No, this post is not intentioned to send anyone into anaphylactic shock and is only slightly inspired by Halloween, just some food for thought :).
As we begin to challenge our students to apply their basic skills in real-world situations and develop their soft skills, we better prepare them for a future that may not quite exist as of yet. In light of this shift, we begin to see that educators are more than just Teachers...they are Designers of Learning.
We begin to use feedback from our students, their ideas and their real world driving questions to help us design learning around their needs. It is important to let students know that it is okay to take risks and make mistakes, so that true learning can occur. The key to success is to encourage students to feel free to ask essential questions, so that they can begin to scaffold their own learning.
This past PD Day, St. Dominic Teachers and Support Staff began discussing how inquiry and project-based learning can look in our Fine Arts School. We examined how we can take the basics and place them in real-world situations, so that students will be engaged in their learning.
Teachers have already begun to seek ways to bring the school community into our walls, so that the students benefit. Because of a connection provided by a parents, our Grade 5N students are working with Andrew Schultz from Breakfast Television to learn about weather forecasting. After this experience, they will write scripts and begin using the iPads and green screening to create their own Weather Broadcasts, just like a real Broadcast Studio.
As we begin to reach out to the local community for expertise and learning opportunities at St. Dominic Fine Arts School, we open the doors for our students to experience success by applying their basic skills in authentic situations.
In light of the excitement this approach can elicit from our students, it is hard to think of learning without authenticity. How can you think of one without the other?
So the next time you grab a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, remember that there are lessons to be learned from its chocolatey goodness.