Inquiry-Based Teaching

Oakes, Constance

Topic:  Educational Theory and Practice (ET)

Bibliographic Citation: Kohn, A. (2013, October 29). A dozen essential guidelines for educators. Retrieved from Alfie Kohn website:

Summary:  An article by Alfie Kohn, an author, and lecturer on education and parenting. This is a short listing of the core principles used in progressive education that nicely explain what an inquiry-based or project-based classroom should look like and what it shouldn’t.  

Evaluation/Opinion:  I find this article/list to be a great way to quickly get an understanding of how inquiry-based learning works and looks.  I like that it does say it is messy. I think it also lets teachers see that it can be a shift out of their comfort zone as their thinking and teaching will change as they move into an inquiry-based program.

For your consideration: An Outlier

Solomon, Samantha

Ullman, R. (2018). No, Teachers Shouldn’t Put Students in the Driver’s Seat. Teacher Teacher. Retrieved 26 September 2018, from

Summary: This opinion piece is written by Richard Ullman, a 29 year veteran of teaching in public high schools. In the piece Ullman defends the practice of teachings using direct instruction to communicate complex skills and concepts to students. He feels that the pendulum has swung too far towards a pedagogy based on “equat[ing] cosmetic engagement with actual learning.” He argues that educational trends are dictated and propelled by people who are removed from actual classrooms, and that as a result, the current trends around game-based learning and student driven learning actually don’t improve student outcomes. He points out that “even though the classroom looks dynamic, students appear to be busy, and the right boxes get checked during classroom observations, achievement gaps don’t close.” Ullman argues that traditional, teacher-centered instruction does work, but that confirmation bias causes experts to ignore the merits of this style in favor of chasing educational fads.

Evaluation: It’s not that I agree with Ullman’s strong preference for teacher-centered instruction, but I do think it is important to acknowledge what people who might be out of this moment’s mainstream might be thinking. I absolutely feel that there is a place for more traditional, direct instruction in classrooms and school libraries, but I also think that it has to be blended with more engaging, student-centered techniques to fully resonate and connect with students and truly enhance their learning.

Mason, Ariella


Hagemans, Mieke G., Van der Meij, Hans, & De Jong, Ton. (2013). The Effects of a Concept Map-Based Support Tool on Simulation-Based Inquiry Learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(1), 1-24

This study observes the effects of concept maps on inquiry learning environments. Study one found that students with color coded and non-colored concept maps performed better. The interesting part was that there was no difference in completed and incomplete assignments, rather the students with the concept map were found to more often go back and restudy the areas they got wrong. Study 2 discovered that any concept map can assist learning, and that the color coding and order of learning supplement each other.

I found this article useful because it describes how the way you show the student’s what they are learning can be of equal importance to how they learned. This article helped me in thinking of how to create rooms for KBCs for the projects in this class.

What Neuroscience Can Tell Us About Making Fractions Stick

Lester,  Debbie
Schwartz, K. (2016). What Neuroscience Can Tell Us About Making Fractions StickMindShift. Retrieved 19 December 2016, from
Learning a new math concept takes a toll on the brain not only because of the new math concepts, but also because students must recruit many parts of the brain to solve any problem. For example, students need visuospatial and auditory working memory when solving a fractions problem, and they must focus attention, inhibit distractions, order tasks, recall information from long term memory and integrate new concepts into an old schema. There’s a lot of mental processing going on when learning math, so understanding how careful brain-based instruction can prime the brain for new learning becomes extra important.

Curriculum That Questions The Purpose of Knowledge

Elizabeth Brown

CA- Written Curriculum
ET- Standards-Based Education

Heick, T. (2014). Curriculum that questions the purpose of knowledge. Retrieved from

This article discusses the status of curriculum in schools examining its role in learning. Heick begins by giving a framework of curriculum, breaking it down to what it has been in the past in comparison to how it is now. He defines curriculum as “that which is to be studied-a set of planned learning experiences to promote mastery of knowledge and skills.” This is is the traditional model, which is directly based on educational guidelines. Heik makes an analogy comparing “academic standards” to the ingredients found in baked goods. By themselves, standards do not sound appealing, however, it it how they are translated or advertised (into assignments) that makes them not only more recognizable, but more palatable. If the purpose of the curriculum is to teach certain skills, than educators need to decide why these lessons worth learning from a student’s perspective. Specifically, the content should be promoted as something relevant, interesting, and applicable to their everyday lives.

I like how Heick is starting an honest conversation about curriculum and its connection to learning and how it effects everyone: teachers, students, and the community. Until educators question why old methods of teaching are not resonating with students, they are not likely to change. It is important for teachers ask themselves, why am I including this in the lesson and what is the intent? Not only are well thought out lesson plans more interesting (for the students), it is more likely that they will learn
something from them.