How to Teach EASILY and EFFECTIVELY Using Guided Inquiry
Teaching chemistry by guided inquiry is simple! It will give you more time to prepare labs and more time to help students. You will have more time to prepare other lessons and demonstrations. And none of this extra time will be at the expense of your students. In fact, your students will learn more effectively and become more successful.
Here's how I have implemented it...
The ChemQuest worksheets are the backbone of the curriculum. After briefly introducing the topic I will hand out the ChemQuest worksheet and the students work in groups of 3 or 4. As they complete the ChemQuest they construct meaning for many concepts. (See Anatomy of a ChemQuest for an indepth look at how the ChemQuest assignments help students construct meaning.) These are not your typical worksheets. Download some of the samples and see for yourself how they work.
While they are working, I make my way around the room and help them with any difficult questions they have, being very careful to guide them instead of telling them the answers. As I do this I am also helping to keep them on task. Everything usually goes very smoothly, which frees me up. Instead of listening to me talk, all the students are working hard and straining their brains. I often seize the opportunity to work on preparing a lab or researching a demonstration that I'd like to do, while keeping one eye on the students. I occasionally walk through the classroom to make sure all is well. Since I began teaching this way, I have some valuable minutes that I never had before!
Some other things happened since I started teaching this way. The number of students taking my chemistry classes has tripled. They perform better on assignments and tests. They enjoy the class. Instead of seeing some students begin daydreaming I see them thinking. My job is more rewarding!
Many times the students are working until the bell rings. Any time they don't have their worksheets finished, they must finish them at home.
The next day, I debrief the worksheets. I know that the students did their work yesterday (because I was checking as I walked around the room), so I usually just check quickly to make sure they are finished with them. Because I watched them work on the ChemQuest worksheets yesterday, I have a good idea of what was difficult for them and I can give them instant feedback. As I go over the ChemQuest with the class, I spend extra time on their difficulties. I answer any questions they have and fill in any gaps that the worksheets didn't help them fill in for themselves.
After debriefing the ChemQuest, I give them some practice problems ("Skill Practice" worksheets) to help them sharpen and develop what they began to learn the previous day. In my opinion, the Skill Practice worksheets are not as valuable as the ChemQuests--the ChemQuests teach students, but the Skill Practice reinforces the concepts. If the previous day's assignment was one of the easier assignments, I sometimes will skip the Skill Practice and move into the next ChemQuest. The students again work together and anything not done by the end of the hour needs to be finished as homework. The next day, I will either go over the Skill Practice worksheet or collect it for a grade, then assign the next ChemQuest and the process repeats itself.
I have over 100 complete lessons ready at the beginning of the year. These lessons are now being made available to you! You will still need an occasional lecture. You will still need your own laboratory investigation and tests. But these guided inquiry worksheets will replace many lectures and keep your students engaged more than ever.
Well, that's a brief overview. It's quite hard to explain it all in a few paragraphs. To see guided inquiry in action, watch the video, which actually contains footage from my classroom.