For those who have read my blog and/or know me, will know that I am a proponent of inquiry based and personalized learning. My journey with inquiry started over 10 years ago and my thinking has evolved tremendously due to new knowledge and what my students were telling and showing me in the classroom. If you haven’t had a chance to read my previous blogs on my journey with inquiry, you can read them here http://bit.ly/2dENLbe (Part 1), http://bit.ly/2gaaXiX (Part 2), and http://bit.ly/2fyQJf8 (Part 3).
A special event or occasion should not be the invitation to welcome inquiry into your classroom – this kind of learning should be infused throughout the year. In other words, it should be a regular part of your classroom, where students are allowed to explore their passions, ask questions, be inspired, think for themselves, have conversations with others, make effective use of technology, and problem solve, just to name a few. For those who might be new to inquiry, there are different frameworks and stages to support your students in this type of learning. I think of inquiry in four stages: (a) Structured/Guided, (b) Blended, (c) Independent, and (d) Personalized (more to come on these stages in my next blog post). Furthermore, I always include the lens of: (a) Universal Design for Learning (UDL), (b) social justice and equity, and (c) integrated curriculum, which I will also explain further in subsequent blog posts.
February is Black History Month, a time where educators and students alike explore their history – the injustices, the struggles, and the successes. In theory, these types of months might seem like a great idea (there’s also Asian Heritage month in May) to highlight and explore issues related to different races and ethnicities but in reality, these issues need to be embedded throughout the year, not just for 28 days before moving on to the next think we have to “check off” in the curriculum (that’s another blog post all on its own!). So, how can you use the curriculum to infuse issues of social justice and equity into teaching and learning on a daily basis? I often ask educators these three questions:
In my opinion, the curriculum needs to be more flexible to allow for students to explore, investigate, and play around with ideas, topics, and concepts (again, an entirely new blog post!).
For now, I will leave you with some sample questions you can ask your students based on Black History Month and the Olympics, happening this month in Pyeongchang, South Korea. What do they think? Why? All these questions are open ended (i.e., no one right answer), thus lending themselves to the exploration of inquiry in your classroom.
Black History Month
- Who had the greatest impact in history in the fight for justice and equality?
- Which important events have been squashed in history? Which one do you think is the most important one for others to know? Why? Why do you believe this event was concealed?
- What are some of the most significant events in Black History that we do not know about? Which one in the most important? Why?
- Who do you believe is the most important person furthering the cause of African-Canadians today? Why?
- Which country actually performed the best? (This might seem like an odd question since there are usually 1 or 2 countries that always perform the best but if students were to think about this question, there are many factors and criteria that need to be taken into consideration such as: (a) how many athletes were represented?, (b) how much funding goes into training?, (c) Who is training the athletes?, (d) what do we know about the economy and geography of the countries and how does that relate to performance?
- Which country should get a chance to host the Olympics? Why?
- Was it right for the NHL to decide that NHL players can not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics?
- Was it right for Russia to be banned from the Olympics because of doping and cheating? (even though Russian athletes are competing, they are competing as OARs [Olympic Athletes from Russia] and any medals they win will not count towards Russia’s medal count).
Hope some of these questions will pique the interest of your students and lead to some interesting conversations!
Any questions, please ask!
Until next week!