Teachers are encouraged to use inquiry in all subject areas. Using inquiry is not necessarily a set of steps to follow or instruct, but an approach to guide student learning. It usually results in greater engagement and can easily be differentiated to individuals and groups. What is often the biggest challenge for teachers is the assessment piece.
Here are a few ways to support your assessment:
- determine check-ins with students as they complete specific stages of the process, such as planning, research/recording observations, interpreting and communicating (use rubrics for these stages as provided in curriculum document – Continuum for Scientific Inquiry)
- use mini-lessons to teach skills and content to the whole class that support the Inquiry subject area
- use whole-class discussions or small group discussions to make observations about student knowledge and understanding (this also builds knowledge among the larger group)
- provide access to a computer for each group or a notebook to record their questions and plans and stay accountable. Communicate with them to further their thinking and provide next steps (Google Docs works well for this)
- Keep observations sheets handy to make notes and take photos
- Inquiry work provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the learning skills
- Provide students with a checklist to ensure specific learning, such as “Show impact on environment” or “Determine best solution for power generation at our school” – when assessing effectiveness of final task/project that students may present in a variety of ways (poster, video, website, etc.)
There are some great project based learning guidelines and assessment tips/strategies on the website http://www.edutopia.org/ or follow edutopia on Twitter.