[Science related] How long does inquiry based learning take?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by BioAngel, Jan 16, 2009.

  1. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Jan 16, 2009

    My school is discussing a new schedule for next year~ something that would cut off 5 minutes each day from our teaching. We're trying to defend ourselves now and tell the school the sci dept can't deal with MORE time loss because we're an inquiry based curriculum.

    Right now we have 45 minutes and its NOT enough. Also, I have my students 1 day less per cycle because of another class they have to take during that time.

    For my lessons, I try to have some kind of skills practice EVERY time. That means we'll do a regular lecture, but during that time they need to observe things and write in their science notebooks, discuss what they observed (analyze), and conclude the main idea~ which helps me to not just shove it down their throats. For 5th graders, this can alot alot of trial and error--- I'm the type of teacher that does not ask them "do you notice this change in this feature? what does that mean", I'm more a "Observe this, write your notes in your notebook, and we'll discuss" only after we do this and they STILL don't get it will I nudge them in a direction. As scientists we don't have anybody else nudging us on the right path-- my students should get the same experience too. (Or at least that's what I think)

    I'm wondering if you teach science--- and this can be any grade level--- and its inquiry-based, how much time to a lesson do you dedicate? This includes time to prep them, discuss, set-up, do the experiment, collect data, and break down in one class.

    We're thinking its alot longer than even what we already have and we're sorta upset that they're trying to take away even more time from us. :mad:
     
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  3. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    Jan 16, 2009

    I feel for you. I do an inquiry based math and with 90 minutes sometimes I'm still talking as they go out the door. Maybe you can invite the powers that be to come and observe your class and actually see all that you are trying to fit into 45 minutes.
     
  4. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Jan 16, 2009

    I suggested that to my supervisor and she just said they won't. :rolleyes:

    Instead they're asking that we send them the amount of time we're actually doing hands on activities. :mad: I guess they don't really understand what inquiry-based learning is for science if they're asking that.

    I brought up the issue too that some of my students can't even hold a pencil normally, let alone write down enough details and measurements in that amount of time.
     
  5. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    Jan 16, 2009

    I have a 60 minute class period and I cannot get everything done in that amount of time. I do not know how you can do it in 45 minutes. We had a special schedule yesterday with 40 minute classes and I would start teaching and the bell rang. I got absolutely nothing done. Could you show them some of the activities that you do with estimated times on them?
     
  6. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Jan 16, 2009

    Wow, it really depends on the lesson and students involvement. I have done lessons that have lasted days because the students have taken it to areas that amaze me. Good luck.
     
  7. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    Jan 16, 2009

    I teach science pre-k-6 and 8th grade learning support. I see MOST of my classes two times a week for 40 minutes. Most of the time I am managing behavior. I TRY to allot the first day to introducing the content. I have to spoon feed most of the kids the new content and I am forced to go VERY fast. Then the second day we (or I) do the experiment. In some classes I have to perform the experiment because the kids throw the materials across my room. I am suppose to have an inquiry-based learning environment, but it only happens 1/2 of the time.

    I agree with mrachelle87. It depends on the kids really. I just taught a lesson on global warming and greenhouse gases. The kids were VERY interested in it and were asking a lot of awesome questions. Another issue is behavior. A lot of times I have to kick kids out of my class in order to get anything done.
     
  8. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Jan 16, 2009

    I have 48 minutes a day. If we are doing a canned experiment it will take a minimum of two class days. For real inquiry based stuff I spend several days. For example, I had one of my classes design an experiment (took about two days), do the experiment (two days), and now we are working on the write up (another day or two). If I had a longer day all experimenting could have been finished in one day. We had to delay starting due to a half day... a waste of time, 30 minutes to do what? I managed a quiz in my other classes, but barely had time for that.
     
  9. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    We're doing an inquiry-based shadow experiment.... it'll probably take me a week and a half to do. Most of the students already know the main points, but I'm trying to get them to realize how we can prove those points about shadows. On top of teaching them how to build a good data table, how to take notes out of the reading properly, measuring skills, observation skills (relate the angle of the light source to the size of the shadow), grammar/vocab skills, and only using their data to prove their point.

    I just don't know if I'm whining about needing extra time or if it's really true. I'm encouraged by chemteach's comments~ 45 minutes is hell as is, let alone even less time now. We're going to have to show them some lessons to make them realize we can't cut back time. (On top of us having 20 less days than public schools)

    Certain sections because of their lack of behavior will have to start having modified lessons where I do the experiments and they watch. It's becoming too much of a hassle, but I'm thankful that's only 1 out of 4 sections.

    I'm even more worried because we're going to all have laptops soon (students and teachers) and I'm not sure what that's going to do to science notebooks (though I'm all for piloting an computer-based version of it) and how I teach. Maybe it'll go faster and I'm already thinking of a science skills bootcamp for the first month of school for next year, so that might help. I just don't want to have to redo all of my lessons after just teaching them for a year.
     
  10. glen

    glen Companion

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    Jan 17, 2009

    We have 45 minute classes right now, and it's difficult to get any sort of a lab done. I always feel like I'm rushing the kids through and they don't get as much time as I'd like for them to discuss and collaborate in class. We're shifting to longer class periods next year, solely based on the need for extended science classes. We'll still have the same minutes of instruction per week, but we'll have 2 90 minute blocks and one 45 each week. I'm looking forward to being able to plan better experiments since we'll have more time!
     
  11. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Jan 17, 2009

    Ah, but there is a trade off for 90 minute periods.. you get more time in a single day, but often, when you add up total hours for the year it is shorter. So the question is which is better?
     
  12. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Jan 17, 2009

    I honestly would prefer less time but longer periods like glen was mentioning. I hate how finally after getting everyone to work and understanding what they need to do, they might only have 10 minutes left!

    I think I would see my kids more often with this new cycle schedule, but for less time each day. I'd rather have less days and more time per lesson.
     
  13. glen

    glen Companion

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    Jan 17, 2009

    That will be true for classes held on Mondays. We still haven't finalized the schedule change, and that is something I knew we would have to account for. We are a very small school (20-30 students per grade), so we should be able to balance things out as needed. In an average week, the students will receive 225 minutes of instruction in each of thei core subjects. Shorter weeks will impact some subjects more than others. The first year will certainly have a learning curve...
     

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