Reflections on first week readings

For the most part, I don’t feel like I learned a lot of new things about Inquiry Based Learning this first week of the course, but several aspects of what I already knew were affirmed as I read the articles and Topics C and D. The Project Based Learning course I took earlier in this Instructional Media program taught me a lot about what we are calling here Inquiry Based Learning. I am looking forward to building on what I know and learning from my classmates how they implement IBL.

In the readings this week, I was reminded that:

  • IBL complements traditional instruction, because it gives students an opportunity to extend and apply what they have learned in perhaps a direct instructional setting and allows them to connect the learning with their personal interests.
  • IBL is more student-centered and the teacher serves more as a ‘guide on the side’ or as a learning facilitator for the students instead of the source of all knowledge the students need to learn.
  • It is valuable to provide an authentic audience for students to present their learning. This forum for student presentations can include other teachers, parents, community members and the like. I know that in my German classes, my students do far better writing when they are blogging with a German teenager from our partner school than when they are just writing for me to grade it.

My questions are:

1)   How to provide the opportunity for students to do IBL but still keep it structured and focused enough on the topics in my curriculum that I must teach.

This is especially true in lower level German classes, where those students must acquire a specific set of vocabulary and grammar skills so that they are prepared to do the more challenging work in levels 3 and 4.

2)   How to create rubrics that work well for grading a wide variety of projects.

I find it is easier to implement IBL in higher level German classes, but my challenge there is to create rubrics for scoring projects fairly when the projects that are presented are often quite varied due to the open-endedness of the assignment.

I am looking forward to discussions with my peers in this course and hopefully finding answers to these questions that will help me to use more IBL in the courses I teach.