Shelly Belleau is a chemistry and physics teacher from the Denver metro area. This school year she is working as a teacher on special assignment at the University of Coloroado, Boulder. Shelly anaitcipates returning to the high school classroom next fall. Below is our coversation about inquiry.
1. How do you define inquiry? or What does inquiry look like to you?
2. What are the benefits of using inquiry in your classroom?
Inquiry is the process of inducing scientific principles from carefully sequenced observations and inferences. Inquiry instruction in science classrooms involves students articulating their initial thinking about a concept or idea (making predictions), then working through a series of carefully sequenced observations and questions. These questions lead students to make inferences on the basis of their observations. Inquiry instruction then involves student discourse - where students make claims and defend their claims with evidence and models. Students ultimately arrive at consensus as a class and then based upon agreed-upon inferences, the students are able to arrive at the scientific principles.
3. What are the hindrances of using inquiry in your classroom?
Students learn about the practice of doing science while arriving at scientific principles. This method of instruction is empowering, engaging, and more rewarding for both the teacher and the students.
4. How often do you use inquiry?
Inquiry instruction can take more time than lecturing. That said, students learn more because they are building their own understanding of the concepts - so even though you don't "cover" as much, students are learning more.