For those that know me, or talked to me for any length of time know that I am pro inquiry and pro contextual learning. I can get very researchy (yes I did just use that word) but in essence it is because I know that it helps and improves a wide range of students. It gives as many students as possible the ability to learn at their pace, no matter what that pace is, while still teaching a whole class. Well today I experienced that learning for myself.
Today, we completed our first E-book using book creator (@bookcreatorapp). This lesson was one of the most rewarding experiences ever, if you ever get a chance try doing a book like this. Anyways, back to my learning, it all started with me trying to share this wonderful book with my parents. The app allows you to put it in ibook, or PDF. It is quite simple, all you do is push a button, but for some reason it was not working. Well I ended up tweeting it out and @bookcreator sent me a tweet back with a how to tutorial, which help immensely. It was like that perfect question, at the perfect time that created this "aha" moment for myself. Before this I was in a state of disequilibrium, where I was getting frustrated but yet still trying things. I was asking questions, going back to my own prior knowledge, however, I still needed one critical piece of information to move forward.
Has this ever happened to you? How about when you are teaching? I know that when I am teaching through inquiry, I try to plan these critical questions and think ahead for potential problems. I let my students be in that state of disequilibrium because it is an important state to be in. Without it I would not have been able to retain the information given. If I was given the tutorial ahead of time I would have just followed it and then done the work; however, if I had to teach it or do it again I wouldn't know what to do. Now that I have struggled through it and was given help at floundering stations I was able to retain the information. In addition, it also shows that learning happens best in a community. Learning is not in isolation and is created in a variety of ways. Students learn as a community too. We work through problems, help each other out and the learning grows from problem to problem. At the beginning students may not know as much but by the end they are all pretty close in their understanding.
As I look back at my experience today it just shows you that their is a lot that needs to happen for real learning to happen. Community, context, critically placed questions, a state of disequilibrium and help a long the way all contribute to this learning. Would love to hear how you create all of these things in your classroom?