OK – I need a little help here. Windschitl (2007) and the EDU 487 experience has helped me understand what an inquiry-based science lesson looks and feels like. It makes great sense and it works when the essential question is something that can be modeled tangibly, such as ‘what causes the phases of the moon?’ or ‘what factors affect water quality at Charlotte beach?’. One thing I learned in my first year of teaching, though, is that a huge portion of the NYS Regents Chemistry exam is vocabulary. This is especially true for Organic Chemistry – I literally felt like a foreign language teacher during that unit.
So, what does an inquiry-based vocabulary lesson look and feel like? Can vocabulary be modeled? Lankshear and Knobel (2006) made it clear that students have to feel that they are part of the Discourse in order to learn. That means understanding the culture of a subject, and language (vocabulary) is part of culture. So, on one hand, it doesn’t seem possible to expect students to discover vocabulary through inquiry. On the other hand, babies do it when they learn their native language. So, what does an inquiry-based vocabulary lesson look and feel like? Anyone have a vignette? (raspberry, please – I’ll pass on the balsamic).
Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2006), Blogging as participation: The active sociality of a new literacy. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.
Windschitl, M. (2007). What is inquiry? A framework for thinking about scientific practice in the classroom, National Science Foundation monograph. 1-15.