By Risa Gluskin
In becoming an inquiry teacher I find it crucial to have explicit goals. I may not achieve them in each lesson but they are strongly in my mind throughout (or I write them down so I don’t forget)!
While some of my goals are course specific, nowadays I’m aiming for more of them to be pedagogical in nature. In particular I’m trying to incorporate the cognitive learning cycle which I wrote about in my last inquiry blog post. In following the brain’s natural pathways for learning, the cycle suggests that teachers should make less input and allot more time for students to analyze, reflect, do and test.
It is in the last stage of the cycle that I wish to make the most progress this semester. This means I’ll have to plan very carefully. Here I’ll use an analogy from closet-cleaning: for every new item in, one has to go out. Want to use a new primary source document? Take something out. Want to add a new civilization? Take something out from an old one. This will leave room for students to do more heavy cognitive lifting. In world history classes, especially at the beginning of the course in the pre-writing stage of our past, students are constantly making inferences and interpretations. I must force myself to give them time to go back and assess the quality of their initial inferences.
Less cram and cover, more selection and careful consideration. Follow my experiences in the next blog post in this series in March.