2Why Use the Inquiry Process? Instruction in reading, writing, speaking, andlistening is often fragmented and lacking in acoherent plan that allows students to work withknowledge.For example: Instruction often centers on themes, which are littlemore than topics covered in a superficial manner. The informationmay not necessarily relate to the information they find in readingthe text book or selection. Writing assignments focus on simpleread-and-report activities rather than on ways to help studentsgain information they can use over time to construct anunderstanding of the world.
3Inquiry The SRA Imagine It! Program has two types of units: Units based on universal topics of interest such as friendship, kindness, and courage.Content units that provide students with a solid base of information upon which they can begin their own Inquiry and research.
4Inquiry Based upon common areas of interest, students conduct Inquiry in small collaborative groups and then present theirfindings to their classmates. In this way, studentsrecognize the importance of sharing knowledge and gainmuch more knowledge of the unit theme than they wouldhave simply by reading the selections in the unit.
5This ability to read to find out what is needed or what one wants to learn is a hallmark of scholarship.
6InquirySRA Imagine It! Helps students conduct research within their language arts instruction. It teaches them how to research and explore any area in which they are interested or have something they need to know. This is an aspect of education that is often neglected until high school or even college.
7InquiryIn SRA Imagine It!, students model the behavior of expert learners and researchers. Opportunities for students, individually and in groups, to explore, to write about, and to discuss key concepts in a specific area lead to improved critical thinking and reading skills. Students become independent, intentional, self-directed learners.Rigor and Relevance are automatically addressed.
8Inquiry The idea of research is introduced as early as kindergarten. Procedures for collaborative research formalized further in first grade.Beginning in second grade and continuing through sixth grade, students are led, working individually or collaboratively, to pursue problems that interest them in the same manner that an adult would conduct research.
9Inquiry How Does the Inquiry Process Differ from Conventional Research Instruction? In conventional elementary school classrooms, research means collect information and prepare a paper. They conduct their “research” by following a procedure that usually involves a series of steps such as:Select a topicNarrow the topicCollect materialsTake notesOrganize notesMake an outlineWrite the paperPresent the paper
10Inquiry Although this procedure may result in the preparation of an adequate paper, it doesnot constitute research in any meaningful oruseful sense.
11InquiryAmple evidence exists that elementary school students can do descriptive, historical, and experimental research that seeks answers to real questions or solutions to real problems.To do this kind of work, however, students need a better research procedure than the one provided by the traditional approach.
12InquiryThe inquiry process is based on the assumption that students can do research that will result in the construction of deeper knowledge and the appreciation that research is a never-ending, recursive cycle. Like real-world researchers students can:Produce their questionsDevelop ideas or conjectures about why something is the way it isPursue the answersThe answers, as for real researchers, may never come. What will come are more questions.
13Inquiry Conjecture- To form an opinion or judgment based on incomplete or inconclusive information.Why is the term conjecture used? It seems to be anunnecessarily difficult term to use with young students.The term conjecture is used because:It is the most precise term in context of the inquiry procedure.It has a respectable place in the philosophy of science.It is a good idea to use technical vocabulary with students when certain terms will be used frequently and when everyday language does not offer entirely adequate substitutes. The point to emphasize is that the goal of the research is to improve conjectures. For that to work, there must be a conjecture with which to start.
14Inquiry To make the research productive, the following important principles are embodied in thisapproach:Research is focused on problems or questions, not topics.Questions and wonderings are the foundation for Inquiry and research.Conjectures-opinions based on less-than-complete evidence of proof- are derived from questions and guide the research: the research does not simply produce conjectures.
15InquiryNew information and data are gathered to test and revise conjectures.Discussion, ongoing feedback, and constructive criticism are important in all phases of the research but especially in the revision of problems and conjectures.The cycle of true research is essentially endless, although presentations of findings are made from time to time: new findings give rise to new problems and conjectures and thus to new cycles of research.Using the inquiry process is an effective strategy to “teach for understanding.”
16What Does the Inquiry Process Look Like in the Classroom? In the classroom, the inquiry process takesstudents through a recursive cycle thatinvolves many steps. Students may gothrough these steps several times beforethey come to the end of their research.
17Inquiry Steps of the Recursive Cycle of Research Decide on a problem or question to research.Formulate an idea or a conjecture about the problem.Identify needs, and make plans.Reevaluate the problem or question based on what has been learned.Revise the idea or conjecture.Make presentations.Identify new needs, and make new plans.The Scientific Method used for the Science Fair is a perfect example of the Inquiry Process.
18Inquiry Step 1: Decide on a problem or question to research. Students should identify a question orproblem that they truly wonder about orwish to understand and then form researchgroups with other students who have thesame interests.My problem or question is ___________.
19Inquiry Step 1: Decide on a problem or question to research. When the procedure is first introduced,students may require some help informulating problems or questions,especially if they are accustomed to doingconventional, topic-centered research forthe purpose of writing paper.
20Inquiry Step 1: Decide on a problem or question to research. In the inquiry process, students begin generatingquestions as they discuss ideas related to acommon theme. Discussion is key as studentsthink about what they know and what they areinterested in learning. In contrast, if studentsconsult reference sources like the encyclopediabefore discussion, they are likely to generatequestions the reference source already hasanswered or problems in which they have no realinterest.
21Inquiry Step 1: Decide on a problem or question to research Occasionally students may select problems that are too hard for them.When this occurs, teachers should remind students that the criterion of success is not finding answers but making progress. It takes patience and effort to shift the criterion of success from answers to progress, but it is an important move toward building a community of scholars.
22The Art of the Question--A question can either shut down or open up a conversation.
23Have a rich discussion about the elements of good questions.
25Inquiry Step 2: Formulate an idea or a conjecture about the problem. Students should think about and discusswith classmates possible answers to theirresearch problems or questions and meet withtheir research groups to discuss and record theirideas or conjectures.My idea/conjecture/theory about this question or problem is _______________________.
26Inquiry Step 3: Identify needs and make plans. Students should identify knowledge needs related to theirconjectures and meet with their research groups todetermine which resources to consult and who will performindividual job assignments. Students also should meetperiodically with the teacher, to present preliminaryfindings and make revisions to their problems andconjectures on the basis of these findings.I need to find out _____________.To do this, I will need these resources___________.My role in the group is _________________.This is what I have learned so far:_____________.This is what happened when we presented our findings:______________________.
27Inquiry Step 3: Identify needs and make plans. Identifying needs and making plans can proceedin two ways, depending on the students. Youngerstudents might be encouraged to discussquestions that are related to the problem to beresearched. Discussion can keep students fromfocusing on one key word and alert them to awider range of relevant information. Olderstudents, however, should begin by askingthemselves what they need to know.
28Inquiry Step 4: Reevaluate the problem or question based on what has been learned. At this step, students gather new information,guided by their research problem, conjectures,information needs, and plans. Depending on thekind of research a student is conducting, she orhe may obtain new information from all kinds ofsources: print materials, videos, electronicallystored data, experiments, observations,interviews, and consultations with experts.My revised problem or question is_____________.
29Inquiry Step 4: Reevaluate the problem or question based on what has been learned. Students should use the new information they obtain to change their conjectures or reformulate their problems. When students report their findings, they must be prepared to respond to the questions:“What does this tell us that we didn’t know?”“How does this information help us?”Such questions should not be thought as negative criticisms but as legitimate queries.
30Inquiry Step 5: Revise the idea or conjecture. In research, unlike most other activities, everything is open to revision: problems, conjectures, plans, methods, and even previously accepted facts. Accordingly, the revision step of the cycle has no specific agenda. Revision should not be impulsive, students should have a reason for making changes. New facts, new insights, or new inferences may be a basis for revisions of various kinds. Because there is no specific agenda, it is difficult to provide much structure for the revision step. The important thing is that individual students, research teams, and the entire class have opportunities to meet and consider possible revision. This is where most of the real thinking and knowledge building will occur. Knowledge does not come simply from the acquisition of new information. It comes from reconsidering current beliefs and conjectures in the light of new information and trying to make sense of them in combination.My new conjecture about this problem is_________.
31Inquiry Step 5: Revise the idea or conjecture. Discussions need to be focused in waysthat will promote revision. If research hasbeen going well, students will be eager for achance to report what they have found andnot so eager to dwell on what others havefound.
32Inquiry Step 6: Make Presentations. In conventional research projects,everything is aimed toward the finalproduct-usually a written or oral report, butsometimes a presentation in some othermedium such as videotape, ademonstration, a model, or a poster.
33Inquiry Step 6: Make Presentations. These presentations all contribute to revision.They produce feedback and criticism from peersthat may change the research or modifyconjectures. They are occasions for thepresenters to think through what they have doneand what the implications are.
34Inquiry Step 6: Make Presentations. In the inquiry cycle, presentations are an offshootof the revision step. Because revision steps areexpected to occur frequently, ample opportunitiesarise for presentations of all kinds. The followingis a list of some useful, informal presentationformats. Each is intended to take less than tenminutes, including a few minutes of discussion.
35Inquiry Step 6: Make Presentations. Mini-debate- Group members who have opposing conjectures present them, along with supporting evidence and arguments, for class reactions.Video/computer highlights- A research group presents and comments on short (one minute or less) segments of a videotape or Web site display that group members think will be of value to other research groups.Book or article highlights- These are similar to video highlights, with the presenters reading excerpts and offering comments.
36Inquiry Step 6: Make Presentations. Preliminary findings- A group uses graphs and other visuals to help communicate its findings more quickly.Problem presentations- Groups that are not able to find relevant material or that have found something puzzling or inconsistent present their present their problem for suggestions.Power Point Presentations- Groups can create a Power Point presentation that includes relevant pictures, charts, and graphs.
37Inquiry Step 6: Make Presentations. Poster session- When not enough class time is available for all students who want to present their research, teachers can allot a certain amount of wall space to each presenter to put up whatever kind of display he or she wants-graphs and pictures with captions, summaries in large print, and so on. At the start of a poster session, each presenter may have one minute to announce the intent of the poster. Then the class is free to study the posters, with the presenters standing by to talk about them. This kind of presentation is common at scientific and research conferences.
38Inquiry Step 6: Make Presentations. These brief presentations are not intended totake the place of a final product (although theymay). They should, however, take some of theemphasis off the final product and givestudents a better sense of research as acontinuous process, with presentations as partof that process.
39Inquiry Step 7: Identify new needs and make new plans. As stated earlier, the inquiry process views research as a recursive, never-ending process. Students should be encouraged to pursue problems or questions that interest them long after a unit of study is over.Teachers may even let an inquiry unit continue for months if it is producing good learning. Some of the most successful inquiry research projects have lasted for almost an entire school year and engaged students so deeply that by the end, they have things to tell the experts!
40Inquiry Step 7: Identify new needs and make new plans. Based on what I found out, I still need to know_________.To do this, I will need these resources________.This is what I have learned:______________.This is what happened when we presented our new findings:_______________________.
42Inquiry ConclusionLearning to read empowers students. Learning to learn enables them to use that power intelligently to direct their learning process and take charge of their lives.Students must learn how to identify problems, ask different kinds of questions, confirm understandings, predict outcomes, interpret text, wonder about meaning, and compare ideas. In brief, they must have opportunities to engage in the kind of inquiry that prepare them for real-world thinking, decision making, and problem solving.Inquiry is a new concept for many students and it is done over an extended period of time.