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Question for Discussion: What does Inquiry-Based Learning Look Like for You?

Participants will take on the role of student in this immersive model lesson that focuses on student-centered, inquiry-based learning. They will explore scientific concepts in rotation through podcasts, webquest research (current issues – global citizenship), blogging, physical and digital flash labs, reading (print and web based) and note-taking, multi-media presentations, and interactive, kinesthetic/tactile activities (both traditional and digital). Creating a technology-enriched learning environment and differentiating the classroom instruction with an infusion of 21st Century tools, and with Universal Design for Learning in mind, allows the digital teacher to move beyond the “Sage on the Stage” lecture-based teaching style to the “Guide on the Side”, a true facilitator of student learning through exploration and discovery.

Participants of this workshop will be provided with the background, knowledge and skill to replicate a similar environment in their teaching learning practice and setting. The essential conditions are necessary for the success of this type of project but experiences will be shared that will indicate that such an environment does not need to be financially onerous to be effective. The backend infrastructure, physical room layout, and challenges of technical support will be approached from an experiential perspective. Ultimately, support from ICT personnel and financial commitment from administrators is ideal but not always possible or realistic. Absence of technical and/or financial support, however, should not be seen as a barrier but as an opportunity to demonstrate the validity of such a project (especially to meet the needs of diverse learning styles and multiple intelligences), its sustainability, and its impact on student engagement and achievement.

Data and student responses from diagnostic / formative assessments and anecdotal comments will indicate the project’s successes, challenges, and next steps for growth.

Outline

Through layered centres, student participants will explore organelle function (via interactive online game), design play-clay cells to demonstrate conceptual differences between plant and animal cells, recognize stages of mitosis, investigate historical perceptions of cancer propagation, podcast personal reflections, and demonstrate a working understanding of microscopes, both physical and virtual.

Student participants will be completing truncated versions of the lessons.

  • 5 minutes task introduction
  • 20 minute task completion
  • 5 minutes task reflection and recapitulation
  • Teacher will rotate to keep participants on task and ‘troubleshoot’ task and technological issues.
  • Computer Activity: Animal Mitosis Virtual Microscope Lab – (Resources: internet access)
  • Mp3 player activity: Cancer (Historical views and cell animations) – (Resources: mp3 players)
  • SMART board: Cell Organelles Interactive online game – (Resources: internet access)
  • Physical Lab Activity: Microscope Lab – (Resources: microscopes)
  • ‘Unplugged’ Activity: Play-Clay Cells – (Resources: play-clay)

Supporting Research

The new Ontario Growing Success Document had provided us with new assessment and evaluation policies. Pod-based, digital learning environments is a perfect fit for the concepts of assessment of, as, and for learning that all education is concerned – http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/growSuccess.pdf

The upcoming Learning for All document in Ontario (currently in draft) is committed to supporting Universal Design for Learning as an educational approach. Differentiating instruction and focus on diverse learning styles is essential to the Universal Design for Learning model and its benefits for all while being necessary for some – http://www.ontariodirectors.ca/L4All/L4A_en_downloads/LearningforAll%20K-12%20draft%20J.pdf

Differentiated Instruction Resources for Ontario Teachers (extremely useful for all) – http://www.edugains.ca/newsite/di/difinstgains.htm (the 2010 Educator’s package is quite comprehensive).

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