Required Reading #1: Key Ideas about Inquiry

Sometimes the students just think too hard! The simplest challenge can be overwhelming because they are trying to do more than is needed; in looking “outside the box” they are wedging themselves into the corner. The idea of an artist block is frightening… your mind going blank and the frustration that goes along with that block. This is a problem that I feel shared inquiry can be used as an active quest. A student that is frustrated due to an artist block or is having difficulty coming up with the “right” idea can create a inquiry group to actively seek help/ ideas/ work out artist block outs/ vent frustrations and discuss what could and could not work in a piece . Kids that are working with similar materials, like concepts etc. can work together to solve their problems and reflect on the solutions they come up with.

Our CIG group, which was named “M and D” (Motivation and Determination) grew out of concern on how to motivate students in our classroom… how to encourage them to want to be creative and create and how to put forth effort to be successful. Our question was formed-

“What inquiry strategies can be incorporated to improve student motivation and effort in art and music classes?”

In discussing the most frustrating problems in our group (outside of budget cuts and administration), the group felt that getting students excited about art and motivated to create art was the biggest challenge. In visual arts, the student says that he/she sees no importance in learning about art and creating art- how do you motivate that student to open up to see that art touches our lives every minute of every day and that the creation of art is an outlet, a career and can encourage higher level thinking? In music, the problem continues with not only motivating the student to understand the importance of music, but to motivate them to practice to become better. We know that this is not just a concern in the arts, but in all areas. Our plan, through inquiry, is to develop strategies that will encourage and motivate students to become more productive in our classrooms.

I rely on many things in developing inquiry in my classroom. I feel that by getting to know my students personally and developing a rapport helps me to get them to open themselves to understanding art and the importance of art is very important. Use of visuals and tangible items such as prints, books, and artifacts (such as my artwork, artwork from collections, student artwork, items from my travels) stimulate inquiry in my art room. Technology has increased the level of inquiry, especially with the introduction of the I pad, ladybug document camera and the Zoom Q3 for documenting discussion and presentations. The students have access to these materials at all times and have increased our interaction. If a student has a more indepth question regarding an artist, art style, technique, etc. I will give them information where they can find more indepth info to answer their own questions and fill their own need

As an art teacher, I am always working closely with the students on developing their own ideas and concepts and making them “push the envelope” regarding the depth and production of their work. Instead of “telling” the students how to correct and improve on their artwork, I prefer to talk one on one or in a small group, such as students sitting at the table and randomly begin asking a few directed questions about colors, images, brush strokes, etc. Getting the students to begin talking about what they are “seeing” is the first step. Instead of the students asking me “Am I finished”?, I work with the student to formulate their own questions about the completed work where they ask themselves questions regarding the objectives of the project, techniques used, and understanding of the basic concepts. This means of inquiry is also used in small groups to determine if a student is truly finished with a piece of art and they can talk about the process in which the piece was created.

Inquiry changes the roles in the classroom- the teacher takes a passive role in the educational process and can, in many cases, become educated (in more ways than one!)as the students engage in the teaching aspect. The students become the active participants, asking questions, challenging information, etc. I think that a teacher needs to feel very comfortable and secure with the subject, the classroom environment, his/her self and the class to be able to permit inquiry oriented work. In my Asian Arts and Culture class last year, I used the inquiry-oriented approach for the students to become more global in their learning of Korean, Japanese and Chinese arts since it was only a semester class and the students had some many different interests! They researched information on the different arts and the techniques/traditions used to create the arts and them disseminated the information to the class, sharing not only the product, but also the rationale and history in its creation.

I feel that my area of “expertise” would be assisting the students in collecting appropriate data which would lend assistance in the learning process. With my opportunities to travel outside the United States and also with my students to art museums and galleries throughout eastern United States and my willingness to experiment with technology, I feel that I can work with the students in directing them to areas that would enhance their learning capabilities and open them to finding out more about topics, materials, cultures and art forms. These opportunities open more doors into inquiry and the willingness to learn.

Key ideas that are repeated in the six quotes from our first required reading all deal with inquiry- in the classroom, skills for developing and supporting inquiry, reflection and research.

The discussion question that is the most interesting to me at this time is “What problems do you encounter with your students that could stimulate shared inquiry as an active quest? I feel that this is a challenge to all of us in the classroom and as an art teacher I can get the students to become involved in collaborative inquiry.The key quote that I look forward to discussing with members of my group is #1because I would like to hear if and how they would work with students to stimulate shared inquiry.

“We have a hunger of the mind which asks for knowledge of all around us, and the more we gain, the more is our desire; the more we see, the more we are capable of seeing.” (Maria Mitchell)
Inquiry Based Education allows students to explore outside the confines of a regular lecture situation. How would you be able to implement this quote into your classroom situation?

The key quote that speaks about the role of the teacher in facilitating inquiry with students is quote #4 “ Inquiry requires teachers and students alike to take up multiple roles and responsibilities within and across classroom activities…”
The teacher is working with the students through collaborative inquiry techniques and supporting the students to increase their learning in and outside the classroom.

The quote that inspires me is Quote #4 as it talks about teacher and students taking multiple roles and responsibilities, and encouraging and supporting students to create, develop and explore their own questions and find the answers. This quote is very encouraging to me as an educator as this is how I feel that teaching should be… not just lecture and instruction, but exploration to encourage learning.
The quote that I would consider controversial would be Quote #5, which compares the “traditional” classroom situation in which the teacher lectures and the students listen and there is no room for the students to challenge information and how inquiry oriented classroom encourages interaction and questioning/sharing of information.