Quote #2: “Collaborative inquiry typically involves an ongoing cycle of reflection, inquiry, and action specific to participants’ immediate contexts. Built on the belief that learning is active, social, and constructed, collaborative inquiry groups create dialogic and relational learning environments that challenge the traditional model of professional development where “experts” provide teachers with episodic updates” (Gates, 2010, p. 11).

Discussion question: How is your Arts Educator 2.0 collaborative inquiry group reflecting on themes that are relevant to the unique teaching contexts belonging to members of the group?

 

Our Collaborative Inquiry Group (CIG), “The Balancing Act,” will reflect on the theme of balance.  Based on prior experiences with ArtsEducator2.0, the members or our CIG individually and collectively agreed that we wanted to balance out what we had previously studied with regards to collaborative inquiry in our classrooms.

The members of our group can find similarities and differences within our individual teaching philosophies and methods, positions, experience, content areas, and in many other ways large or small we have yet to discover.  We have only one music teacher.  But, this teacher has the same age-level students as other members of the group.  We only have two high school teachers.  But those members teach the same content area as other members.  We have two teachers that work together in the same school.  But, through AE2.0, we can collaborate across several schools and districts.  We have four members who have worked together in the same CIG as last year.  But, we feel like we are an entirely new group with new members, a new focus, and new opportunities to share, learn, and grow.  This diversity makes for a well-rounded grouping of professional educators.  While we each have unique circumstances, we plan on bringing them together to form rich collaborative learning experiences.

Our individual research will fall under the general theme, but have individual purpose.  For example, some members felt like inquiry based teaching strategies were too “freeform” for their production expectations.  Others felt that they needed to create a more student-centered learning environment.  And still others plan to study balance from a different perspective.

My take on our theme has to do with how much “freedom” I should allow within the context of inquiry based learning with younger students.  This wondering is similar to some members of the group, yet differs from those who teach older students.  I find that I need to teach procedures for using stations and consider the physical classroom environment.  I need to give students instructions on how to work within the format of inquiry.  It needs to be centered on questioning techniques, research, discovery, and reflection.  I need to provide many more opportunities for this type of learning.  So, this year, I would like to work towards finding the balance between structure and freedom.  While I believe inquiry-based learning is a rich and fulfilling way for students to discover information on their own, I struggle with the idea that some concepts are concrete and require other instructional strategies.  I guess the essential sub-questions (for me) will end up being: When should I use inquiry-based learning strategies?, How do I decide what content is best suited for these strategies?, and In what ways can I teach technique, skill, or process using these strategies?  I look forward to researching our topic, implementing fresh ideas, and collaborating with my fellow arts colleagues.  What are your thoughts on these topics?  Do these same “problems” come up in your classrooms?

 

Just as a side note, I want to say that this quote very eloquently sums up how I feel about inquiry.

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