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Lesson Plans


[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Marilyn Schnake (mschnake)
Mon, 14 Apr 1997 10:04:27 -0500

A long response to "Our Place in the World" and its on-line seminar
regarding the issue of inquiry--based learning.

The discussion about students' actively involved in learning through the
inquiry process is intriguing. There is ambiguity in the responses within
the discussion that seems to indicate there is a "right" way to engage
students in inquiry strategies, even home grown directions are perceived as
having appropriate characteristics. Eldon Katter's response that triggers
my comments today speaks to the process of inquiry.

The process provokes creative and divergent thinking--an investigative model.

I wonder if we can agree that there is a process of finding meaning and
significance in artworks--whether we do so with a set of directed
questions, a group of artworks that stimulate thoughts via comparisons, or
if we simulate or make the artwork first or midst that's connected to
significant ideas.The process may take various forms and is based on a
sound and appropriate purpose--that is to explore major ideas and concepts
about art. Mary Erickson's model encourages teachers to nurture curiosity
in students, to help them imagine a time and place as real, and to
encourage good questions from students. The model supports current thought
that teachers are the facilitators, not informers, for developing students'
higher order thinking.

My belief is that the process of inquiry and discovery resulting in a final
reflection, or solution, relates to some major idea/s that students'
discuss, define, explore, hypothesize, and personally resolve. It's the big
idea that determines the learning experiences teachers plan with expected
concepts covered--the point of a set of lessons. What line of questions,
what strategy, will we plan to focus student learning? The big idea, or
generalization, encourages application of knowledge, synthesis of concepts,
and leads to "awe" and "ahaa." Inquiry is the system. "Our Place in the
World" mirrors that intent.

Rather than a lecture format in which we state up front, "This is the main
idea of the set of lessons we will now experience ..." teachers provide the
"setup" based on meaningful, relevant, and motivational student learning
experiences in the form of avenues of exploration. The greatest learning
happens when students are engaged and actively seeking some answer and
solution to a major question. Is it possible that the main idea can be
turned into a question? A problem to solve? Tasks become evidence of
solutions.We've been trained and skillful at providing studio-media related
problems for students to wrestle and solve. Could problems that we present
be based on solutions incorporating a theory of art, an issue in
comtemporary art, a critical evaluation, and/or an artist within a
particular time and place? What major idea or question could be presented
to students that creates an atmosphere of inquiry and discovery? Yes, I
think new teachers can incorporate inquiry-based learning if they are
preserviced, guided during their first experiences, and most of all, given
professional development support opportunities. (Attend Exploring Art
listed on ArtsEdNet's professional development listings!)

Some of the recent postings question the use of inquiry with disinterested
students. I think this indicates that teachers are challenged to find that
"meaningful (to the students)" point to capture students. They do have a
World and they are responsive.

Thomas Cardellichio and Wendy Field."Seven Strategies That Encourage Neural
Branching." Educational Leadership. March, 1997. ASCD

They write about teaching strategies that can open students' minds to new
ideas and creative mental habits. All strategies are inquiry-based. They
end the article with this statement.(p.36)

"The goal is to create explorers (students) who have an idea of what they
are looking for, who have a methodology with which to search, but who come
to the exploration with open minds so that, should they discover America,
they will not assume they have landed in India just because that's where
they intended to go."

Marilyn Schnake

Marilyn Schnake
650H Versailles Circle
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007