I realized that inquiry based learning does not come in a cute little box or sit behind a wonderful hardcover textbook. And, most importantly, I realized that inquiry based learning does not fit the current model of our school structure in the manner that the state standards are mapped out.
Our current model offers a piece of paper with state standards and the teacher is to make sure that all standards are addressed. Without any direction from leadership we educators are trying to make sense of best practices. My new understanding is that inquiry based learning is a process where the teacher uses the standards as their field guide when directing students’ interests. I realized after reading through discussions that the format that I am generating might in fact be stifling creativity.
It is better to give students the subject area to explore and then guide them to specifics as they research on the subject. Within this guidance teachers are offering a foundation and building on competencies. So, instead of giving students a state standard with a list of key vocabulary words and key questions that address the state standard, allow them the autonomy to ask the questions about US Reconstruction using the KWL first, while the teacher uses the standards to guide student learning. As the conversation develops students can create a plan to develop an understanding of their “burning question:” a term used by my professor Matthew Cwalina.