Skip to main content

Inquiry Based Learning

In keeping with our school-wide theme of critical analysis, yesterday the entire faculty of Saint David's participated in a dynamic professional development program on inquiry based interdisciplinary teaching and learning.

In opening the day, I asked the faculty how long do answers really last?  Isn't learning and life more about the question?--what questions to ask, when to ask them and of whom to ask.  Learning what, how, when and of whom to ask questions is the key to learning.  Questions can last a lifetime, answers, however rarely do.  Learning--It's all about the question.

The session was facilitated by educator Carolyn DeCristofano, whose 25 years of experience in science and STEM education includes working with Project Zero at Harvard's Graduate School of Education and the Museum of Science in Boston. The workshop explored ways in which teachers can incorporate inquiry strategies into the design of curriculum, bearing in mind the principles of our Teaching for Understanding framework.

For this hands-on workshop, our faculty first put on their "learner hats," stepping into the experiences of their students as they worked in small groups on a project that involved drawing and building a pendulum. They then hypothesized many properties, including swing duration and velocity, through experimentation with a number of variables such as set-up, drop height, mass and length. 

Following their experimentation, Ms. DeCristofano engaged the groups in discussions about their findings, which often led to insights gleaned from both the similarities and differences in each group's approach to the project. The groups learned from each other, under the guidance of and with the direction of the facilitator.

Afterward, our faculty put on their "teacher hats" and reviewed the five E's, a design model that teachers can use for inquiry based learning: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate.  Each "e" represents a stage in the learning process and involves the students and teachers working cooperatively to maximize engagement and understanding.

Inquiry based learning is student-led, involves asking open ended questions and problem solving. By its nature it is an active form of learning, that requires the learner to experiment, observe, and critique.  The teacher, rather than providing answers or facts to the group, facilitates discussions and guides the students through their thought processes and learning, providing clarification and correction.

Saint David's teachers are terrific at utilizing active learning, which research has shown is more engaging and leads to deeper levels of knowledge and understanding in boys. And, as yesterday's workshop demonstrated, this is a method that requires a great deal of critical analysis--of pedagogy, of assessment and evaluation practices, and of design.

Yesterday's workshop was one of several exciting professional development workshops that will explore the year's theme.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

An Evening With Lidia Bastianich

On Tuesday evening, Lidia Bastianich, award-winning chef, restaurateur, television host and author, visited Saint David's to speak to the Saint David's Alumni Parent community and current Eighth Grade.



Interviewed by Alumni Parent Dr. Joseph Haddad for our Alumni Parent Council Lecture, Lidia recounted her youth in Istria when the once Italian peninsula shifted to communist reign after World War II, her two years spent as a refugee in Trieste, and her experiences after her family immigrated to America when she was eleven years old.


The boys were fascinated with her discussion about her family's escape from Istria and her life as a refugee and immigrant. She expressed her everlasting gratitude to the people who provided assistance to her family in Trieste and when they first arrived in New York. "I can't talk enough about the goodness of the people who helped us," she said. "I am where I am because of them."

As a highly successful person with…

Navy SEAL Bill Berrien '82 Gives Chapel on Service to Saint David's Boys

Former Navy SEAL and Saint David's Alumnus Bill Berrien '82 fascinated all during his Chapel Talk Tuesday morning to our seventh and eighth graders.

A SEAL for nine years, Bill was a member of two platoons in South America as well as part of a Joint Special Operations unit. He shared his SEAL Trident with the boys, talked about the intensity of training, and noted he remains close to many with whom he served.


Connecting his service to the values that Saint David's espouses, he encouraged the boys to always be students--curious throughout their lives, to find the best in everyone, appreciate setbacks, and to learn from failures. In the video above, he addresses the first.

He closed by planting these "seeds" for our boys to consider: that life is a journey to be embraced broadly with openness to a variety of opportunities; being a service leader is of utmost importance; the unknown should be embraced; and, finally, that the boys be their own best friend, compassi…

Sono arrivati in Italia!

Eighth graders and their teachers have arrived in Rome and are enjoying the first day of the 10-day Italian Study Tour.


Their first stop was St. Paul's Outside the Walls, where Cardinal Harvey, Archpriest of the papal basilica, provided a tour. Later, the boys visited the Spanish Steps, and toured the Pantheon.




Over the next two weeks the boys will visit sites in Rome, Assisi, and Florence. They will see in person the paintings, sculpture, and architecture that they have studied in the interdisciplinary humanities class. Each day their understanding will be deepened as they write about the experience and sketch the various works in their journals.


This trip is an exceptional opportunity for our boys to augment their in-class learning, build experience as citizens of the world beyond New York City, and strengthen their bonds as a graduating class.

I can't wait to join the boys and their teachers later in the week!