Coffman. T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: Developing creative thinkers and information literate students (2nd Ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.
Creating lessons and activities that require your students to think creatively and inventively about authentic problems is important in this information-centered world. To help your students develop 21st century skills by using inquiry-based instruction, teachers strive to ask meaningful questions so students can dig deeper into content by researching, hypothesizing, and debating all to better understand the problem or idea. This new understanding and knowledge is then presented to a wider audience providing an inventive solution.
As you think about ways to best develop your students innovative and creative minds, you can add technology integration tools within your classroom that engage students with real world artifacts (primary sources, video, images, etc.) and help provide a real world context (wordpressing, Internet searches, expert communications, presentations, etc.). The use of technology as a tool to enhance your pedagogy and content helps your students work within a meaningful context around your curricular topic through real-world application and experience.
Throughout the inquiry process, you are encouraging students to question, research, create, discuss, and reflect with others on their results and then to present to a larger audience for review and feedback. This inquiry-oriented approach goes beyond just asking questions of your students. Instead, it encourages them to build on their existing knowledge. Then, with this new information and data they begin to adjust and identify their new knowledge by asking questions and testing their hypothesis until they have found a defensible and workable solution.
When thinking about designing lessons for inquiry, you want to think about creating a context for the questions you ask. From there, you develop a framework that incorporates an identified focus and allows for multiple understandings. This differentiation is important to include in your lesson design.
Examples of inquiry-oriented lessons include WebQuests, Web inquiry, and telecollaborative activities. Each of these activities have the potential to incorporate a problem-based, inquiry approach into your lesson. They allow you to scaffold student learning by using good questions and quality Web resources within a collaborative team approach. The result is that your students are active and engaged participants in their own learning. As the teacher, you facilitate the learning process by asking good questions and guiding your students along the appropriate instructional path.
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Williams, L. (n.d.) What is a telecollaborative project? http://www.internet4classrooms.com/telecollaborative.htm
Workshop: Inquiry-based learning. (2004). Concept to Classroom. Educational Broadcasting Corporation. http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/inquiry/index.html