So, yesterday I was working on writing the Elementary book in the Guided Inquiry Design series. I was working with some lessons on wave energy for fourth grade. (Sent to me from a rock star librarian, through my work with the wonderful educators of Norman, Oklahoma) Throughout the day, I was immersing myself in what the learners would do in this unit, in what order these activities fell, and how the order and content would impact their understanding and in turn their ability to craft excellent inquiry questions on the concept to pursue further. (Instructional DESIGN) Working in this way, viewing the videos, examining the experiments, and thinking of the timing of it all, IMMERSED me in the concept of waves and the specific content of light, water, and sound waves, much like it would do for our students. I was thinking really hard about why kids might even want to care about this. I believe that it's important for the learning to be relevant (third space).
After a long day of work, my daughter got home from school and we decided to take a break and go paddle boarding on the local lake. We had been kayaking recently and decided to try out paddle boarding for the first time. Since they rent them at our local recreation center run lake, we thought we would take them out to enjoy the indian summer weather while it lasted. It was hard to balance and stand the first time, I was a bit wobbly and unsure. But as my comfort increased, I began to enjoy the beauty of my surroundings.
While I am working on balancing my body on top of this board, immersed in the experience, the beautiful breathtaking views of the sun setting over the Rockies to my west, I had an epiphany.
I had been immersed in the concept of waves all day, playing with the ideas and experiments, watching the videos and in this moment on my paddle board, EVERYTHING around me connected to that unit of study.
Motorboats were speeding by with wake boarders creating waves. The waves were upsetting my balance and caused me to steady my board. The ducks were making ripples in the water that eventually lapped the shore. If you are in water, there are waves. Waves have power, you feel their power when you are on a paddle board and your balance is at stake!
Then I looked to my west at the setting sun. The light rays were filtering through various holes on the clouds affecting where the light fell and how the sun's energy was directed. Light rays were being presented to me.
And then there were these loons, who would disappear in the water to pop up again in another place. They were calling their mates with an odd crying sound. Sound waves were traveling to my ears.
Through opening to the moment, I realized that inquiry based learning, when done well, and when learners are open to the learning through an inquiry stance, provides an immersive experience into life. Mindfulness, if you will. If you allow it, as you learn, you will see your world with new eyes. Excellently designed inquiry based learning can provide our students with a unique and new lens with which to see the world.
If we can recognize this immersion through inquiry, we should ask our students about the connections they are making in the world. Help them to be open to what the world offers them by asking, "What connections did you make to waves last night? Did you interact with any waves, when, how.... "
Through inquiry based learning in school, all of our lives are enriched! We can show our students to use the immersive experience of GID to OPEN their eyes to experience the world with new information and understanding. That is what learning, true learning, is all about. Isn't it?