As I spent most of the early part of my summer break traveling from FlipCon13 to ISTE to the eRevloution in Evansville, IN, many educators were talking about Inquiry. Ever since I changed my methodology to follow Ramsey Musallam's Explore-Flip-Apply model, I have been thinking about how to impart more Inquiry learning into social studies. Recently I read a study out of Stanford about how we need to have students experience their learning first. (Here is a link to the abstract of the article.) Lately with all the educational evidence about the importance of Neuroscience, I have changed how content is delivered to my students. Instead of taking the approach of my students first reading about a topic or me giving them direct instruction right off the bat (either through lecture or video) I try to find images, maps, or primary sources to introduce a topic. From here, my students discuss how these images or words might fit into our topic. Then I give them direct instruction to help fill any gaps in their learning. Instead of giving them a quiz right away to see if they retained the information, they have to apply what we have learned in a meaningful way. For example, right now my students are studying the economic impact of a one-resource economy on Latin American countries. So we started with images of some of the Natural Resources in Latin America. The students had to guess what each image was, and where in Latin America it could be found. Building understanding off previous information they have learned. Once we discussed the resources we look at a map of Natural Resources and students need to talk in groups about why certain minerals are located where they are. I walk around to each group and work them if needed. This follows the JiTT model used by Eric Mazur and Ramsey. Then they have to apply this information in a meaningful way. For this unit of study, here is their question: "Suppose a disease destroyed El Salvador’s coffee crop. How would this loss affect coffee-plantation workers and the economy of El Salvador? How can you fix this problem? Explain your answer." To present their information, they need to use the iPad App Storyrobe, which is like a recordable Keynote or PowerPoint on an iPad. They must use pictures to show their understanding of the material and write a script explaining how they can solve the problem. (I will put the Lesson Plan up on my Lesson Plan tab).
Yes, I could have given them a test, which I will after the project, but our students need to get in the practice of strengthening the skills necessary for after school. So through Inquiry, my students are able to think differently and more abstractly than if I taught in the traditional manner.
George Phillip is a social studies teacher and designer.
Ramsey Musallam - www.cyclesoflearning.com
Karl Lindgren-Streicher -
Josh Stumpenhorst -
Jason Bretzmann -
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