Monday, November 14, 2016

Why Inquiry Learning?

Why Inquiry Learning?

“The current system of education fails to recognize that all students are people.  Education is a complex human’s about people...we grow and we evolve and we change.  And if you have an industrial metaphor in your head, then you’re led into the sort of language that we now use about standardization” --Sir Ken Robinson from the film Most Likely To Succeed  

We are at a turning point.  In many ways, our country is facing enormous challenges in multiple realms. Because I am a teacher at heart how we “do” school is at the forefront of what I dream about and act on daily.  Education needs a face lift. Our kids will need different skill sets for working in the 21st Century.  So how do we do this?  

I’ve been given an amazing opportunity to support Project Based Learning for Bismarck Public Schools.  This means I am in all schools, working with administrators, instructional coaches, lead teams, and teachers to engage students in a different way to “do school”.  Our kids have become very good at “wanting the right answer” and “complying to the teacher”.  Project Based Learning fosters a way for our kids to experience education and personalized learning by focusing on student strengths, interests and passions. In the film, Most Likely To Succeed, Sir Ken Robinson said “The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn't need to be reformed; it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.”

Bismarck Public Schools is tackling this head on.  5 years ago, stakeholders (students, teachers, support staff, community members) came together to have discussions about what they see as the future of school experiences for students.  Interestingly enough, these stakeholders all had a similar vision in mind (look at the links below). This exciting work continues to grow! For the past four years, teachers have been learning what PBL looks, feels and sounds like for students.  Teachers are also engaging in professional development to learn how to design projects that are authentic, rigorous and relevant for our students. Discussions of how an inquiry-based classroom flows and the power of reflection are an important part of this professional learning.

Kids are complex.  We need to honor the fact that there isn’t a simple path and that this work is going to be messy and complicated.  We need to create an educational culture that embraces curiosity, creativity, inquiry, collaboration, empathy, communication of ideas, problem solving, creating, observing and experimenting.  And this is where Project Based Learning is an opportunity for us to engage kids in authentic learning experiences; where standards are connected, relevant and meaningful to all.  

Are you ready for a transformation?  

To view this work, click on the following STEAM Powered Classroom Links:

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