My journey as a secondary science teacher candidate at UVIC

Tag: inquiry

Inquiry with Trevor Mackenzie


“Agency is for ALL STUDENTS, not just the kids who are dying for it”- Trevor Mackenzie

This past week Trevor Mackenzie joined us for class to talk about inquiry! After hearing from Jeff Hopkins and discussing inquiry in a variety of settings outside of this class it was valuable to hear from a teacher who is implementing inquiry within the public school system I am planning to teach in! The fact that inquiry can exist within the public school system and not just in satellite schools was reassuring to hear as I have been struggling to imagine this occurring outside of those specialized schools. I am reminded both by Trevor and by my mentor Teachers during my observation days that this all starts with the teacher and how you show up to class. Sure, the tech and all the bells and whistles that might be available to work with at a specialized private school are cool and can certainly open up opportunities, but it is by no means essential to leading successful inquiry projects. Inquiry is much more about classroom community!

As touched on in this video, Trevor really emphasized the idea of getting to that un-google-able questions as a way to provoke thinking and inquiry! Both as a teacher and students asking these big questions are at the heart of inquiry.

As I think about implementing inquiry in my own classroom, I find myself struggling to imagine balancing it all within the curriculum as well. Trevor really emphasized knowing your curriculum, which I recognize will come with time, and then finding that spot in the curriculum where students can have more choice. This is the spot where inquiry can thrive! Ultimately students are not going to remember all of the content that you teach, but if you give them diverse empowering ways to learn they will remember those learning experiences.

When considering using inquiry in your classroom, it is important to look at it as a partnership. As much as this is student-centred constructivist learning it is not a free for all. There needs to be adequate scaffolding and accountability involved as well. It is also important that you consider the skills of your students when introducing an inquiry project. If they are lacking some skills don’t throw them into the deep end of inquiry! That being said, inquiry should be challenging and provoke growth, so it is all about finding that fine line!

When I think about inquiry, one of the features of it I am drawn to the most is the in which you can use inquiry to diversify assessment. Within the science discipline, my own educational experience has been largely restricted to some formative assessment, with a heavy weight on summative assessments . These were frequently in the form of quizzes and tests. However looking back on the opportunities I did have to do more project based learning through science fairs, I remember feeling much prouder about my work and learning there than I ever did about getting a good test grade. Given that the university system is still largely based on tests, I think it is important to still have student write tests, particularly in senior science classes, however I would love to be able to diversify the forms of assessment that I can offer in my class. Inquiry projects are certainly one way to get there! Not all kids will perform to their true ability on tests, however if you provide them an opportunity to show their knowledge in their own way you might be surprised to learn just how much they know in comparison to their test grade.

After Trevor’s guest lecture I certainly have a lot of take-aways! I appreciate hearing inquiry from the public school perspective and will certainly look to learn more about this world moving into my own teaching practice.

Want to learn more aboutTrevor? 

Check out: 

Our EDCI 336 class resource blog here

Trevor’s own website here!

Trevor’s book

Guest Lecture with Jeff Hopkins: Inquiry base learning in the real world!

We had the fortunate experience of having Jeff Hopkins from the Pacific Institute of Innovation and Inquiry speak with our class! It was an excellent opportunity to learn about an inquiry based school and Jeff was incredibly gracious with our questions! Needless to say we as a class certainly had a lot to ask!

The PSII school is located here in Victoria and looks a whole lot different than your typical school. This is entirely by design and you can check out a blog post for a tour and little bit of insight on the school’s design from Jeff here as well! At the route of the school is inquiry! Both through this EDCI 336 class and my seminar inquiry projects I am having an opportunity to explore the process of inquiry in my own way. That being said, Jeff’s guest lecture was incredibly insightful as to how this form of pedagogy looks like in the real-world!

A few key take-aways for me were that an inquiry based school has the opportunity for students to grow a lot within their own education! Jeff reinforced the need for scaffolding, especially during students’ first years at the school and that they have learnt a lot since opening the school about how to have students thrive within an inquiry based education. I can only imagine my own need for scaffolding had I been a student within PSII. It is certainly a non-conventional education model which will take me more time to wrap my head around and one that I am not entirely convinced of but I certainly see some of its merits and I would be curious to explore inquiry based learning in science education moving forward! Jeff, certainly has a lot of knowledge and insight to share both on inquiry and education as a whole, I have started following him on twitter and have checked out a few podcasts with him as well. Rumour has it he is soon to be releasing a PSII podcast so I look forward to checking that out once it is released!

For now, here are a few podcasts I checked out!

As I have already Jeff had so much perspective to offer during our class! These are a few quotes I wrote down that I will certainly carry with me in education career:

“Is this school based/built for learning, or to fit in the system?”

“Identify strengths of learners, use these to allow students to engage with learning in a way that makes them engaged and happy”

Looking forward to learning more and pursuing my own inquiries moving forward as an educator!

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

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