This Journey Comes to a Close
As I sit back and ponder the past 14 weeks and revisit my initial thoughts about inquiry learning, I can proclaim that my knowledge about inquiry learning has grown as a direct result of taking part in my own learning. There has also been a roller-coaster of emotions along the way, as I experienced opportunities to interact with the LCN616 unit requirements.
The Oxford Dictionary states
‘inquiry is the act of asking for information’
‘learning is to acquire knowledge or skills’
Initially I pondered whether it was the innate curiosity of all creatures which led them on inquiry journeys, as they tried and tested the problem at hand. I can confirm that with a ‘YES’. The nature of inquiry is so innately embedded in our everyday lives that the learning process is natural. Presented in a cyclic fashion, as soon as an question has been answered, the next question has been spoken. I can also confirm that the inquiry journey can be as big or as small as it needs to be to answer the question. The most humble of inquiry journeys are valid in their own right, as they still take us through the process of asking, problem solving, open-ended pondering, questioning and exploring, building knowledge, taking greater control, creatively viewing the results, and reflecting upon the journey.
The wordle below is a summary of the words written in my blog. It represents the most frequently written words in the biggest font. ‘Students’ is featured the most heavily, which best describes what I am and who I work with in my life. I am a student of life everyday. As I learn through inquiry questions, I solve problems and situations at work, at home, for my family and friends, and for myself. We are all students of life, as inquiry is within us as we journey through our daily lives. When browsing the words collected in this image, I feel that it represents my mantra for learning and teaching this year.
The three areas of interest that were discovered during Module 1‘s investigation into the inquiry learning process are as followed, with a supporting framework or model recommendation married alongside:
- students learning geography as a way of social change (Lupton & Bruce 2010, Transformative Window)
- the development of student research and questioning skills with the assistance of technology (Gourley 2008, Inquiry Circle)
- inquiry learning models designed to support the learning approach (Kuhlthau 2012, Guided Inquiry Design, graphic modification by Keiran Chandler-Pennisi)
All of these points were discussed at length during my Analysis and Recommendations post in Module 3, as I suggested suitable action plans that would accommodate the needs and skills of the Year 4 students, while grounding them deeper into an inquiry learning project. After observing and collecting data about the students’ inquiry based project during Module 2, I am confident that students would thrive if given an opportunity to experience and interact with the geography curriculum content, as they took part in their own learning. Supporting teachers to develop these inquiry learning experiences would then incorporate the questioning, exploring, and reflecting into meaningful learning experiences based on student-centred learning.
Just as I said back in Module 1, my role as teacher-librarian is a valuable clog in the school machine, were I can provide students with learning experiences that develop their skills as researchers, investigators and collaborators. I now ponder how many ways I can infultrate my new found knowledge of inquiry learning and it’s models and frameworks, whereby it can assist my colleagues in their planning and classroom pedagogies. When the learners are at the centre of the learning, and the opportunity actively provokes a social change or new form of action, students will be able to own their learning experiences and grow from their journey, while adding to their learning toolbox for the 21st century.
On a final note, the following video shares the big picture of inquiry learning through music and images, in a mere 4 minutes. Sometimes things are better left unsaid.
Chaloner, Mark (2011) YouTube Video. Teaching Inquiry Learning. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvphKkrylPLjWpGPe1Izyfg
Gourley, B. (2008). Inquiry Cycle Journey. Retrieved on 15th September, 2014.
Kulthau’s Guided Inquiry Design: Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, (2012). Chapter 1 : Guided Inquiry Design: The Process, the Learning, and the Team. In Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, Guided inquiry design: a framework for inquiry in your school, (pp.1 – 15). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.
Lupton, Mandy and Bruce, Christine. (2010). Chapter 1: Windows on Information Literacy Worlds: Generic, Situated and Transformative Perspectives in Lloyd, Annemaree and Talja, Sanna, Practising information literacy : bringing theories of learning, practice and information literacy together, Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, pp.3-27.