Dr. Z over at at Dr. Z Reflects asks

I am tired of hearing and talking platitudes about changing our educational system from a memorization-based learning experience to a student-engaging learning environment which challenges students to answer problems and convert information and data into useful knowledge. Is there a system for this conversion? Is there a checklist to better identify an inquiry-based system? Is there a premise for the questioning system that needs to be used to optimize this system? 

What do you know about inquiry-based/project-based/challenge-based learning?  What resources can you suggest? Are you using this format? What are you doing?

For me, this is a matter of taking advantage of approaches like Problem-based Learning. To me, it seems obvious that these approaches work, but are un-used in schools today exactly because it is easier to take a different approach. It is the same issue with teaching writing. While many of us know that teaching writing is greatly enhanced when we use a writing workshop approach, it’s clear that in many classrooms today, writing workshop is just not being done. Check out the video here to listen to changing attitudes…then realize that writing workshop has been around for MANY years. And, it all continues to change.

What’s stopping adoption of an approach that works?

It’s the same kind of question we could ask about problem-based learning. In the past, over 7 years ago, I wrote about Problem-based Learning. I still consider it a valid approach that just does not get used in K-12 today.

It’s hard to imagine that such approaches aren’t adopted when they are successful, whether you use technology or not. But it is so.
Some of my favorite books on Problem-based Learning include:
  • Bridges and Hallinger’s Implementing Problem-based Learning in Leadership Developmentfrom ERIC:
    • Messy, real-life problems provide the starting point for learning in a radically transformed instructional environment. In problem-based learning (PBL), students in educational administration classes–aspiring and current principals–jointly decide how to deal with the problems and learn leadership skills by facilitating collaboration and building consensus. This book seeks to convey how PBL can become a vehicle for building meaningful connections among research, theory, and practice in the classroom. Read more online

Torp and Sage’s book on Problems as Possibilities: Problem-based Learning for K-16 Education. From the web site:

  • We’re all learners on life’s journey, and often the messy problems we encounter present us with the best education. Researchers are finding that the same concept holds true for students in our classrooms.
  • Problem-based learning (PBL) is an authentic, experiential form of learning centered around the collaborative investigation and resolution of real-world problems. In PBL, students address a problematic situation from the perspective of a stakeholder in the situation. As both a curriculum organizer and instructional strategy, PBL fosters active learning, supports knowledge construction, integrates disciplines, and naturally combines school learning with real life.
Of course, a lot of people like project-based learning, which is often confused with PBL. Simply put, project-based is focused on an end product, while problem-based learning is about the process, even though products are important as well. For me, that is an important distinction. In the project-based learning arena, it seems clear that the latest and greatest includes Boss and Krauss’ Reinventing Project-based Learning. I continue to prefer Problem-based Learning.

Is this about inquiry,  or am I missing the boat? Are you referring to something else?
“Inquiry” is defined as “a seeking for truth, information, or knowledge — seeking information by questioning.” Individuals carry on the process of inquiry from the time they are born until they die.Effective inquiry is more than just asking questions. A complex process is involved when individuals attempt to convert information and data into useful knowledge. Useful application of inquiry learning involves several factors: a context for questions, a framework for questions, a focus for questions, and different levels of questions. (Source)

Is this what inquiry means for you?

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