Content Area Reading #13 – Stop, Collaborate and Listen!

“What’s Collaboration Got to Do with It?: Setting the Table for Teacher-led Collaborative Inquiry” by Rebecca Valbuena and Anthony Roy. Social Education 80(6), pp. 378-380, National Council for the Social Studies

I chose this article because I was interested to see what the authors had to say about collaboration.  We began talking about personalized learning last week, and teacher-led collaborative inquiry is a huge part of that. In order to better understand and visualize how personalized learning can be implemented into a classroom setting, I think I need to read up on how various educators either perceive such changes or how they went about the change themselves. Retrospectively, I see that this article is much more focused on inquiry for teacher professional development, which should precede student inquiry in the classrooms; I continued to read as this is something that I have not read about before, but agree with.

Summary: This article argues that “Teacher-led professional development centered on inquiry sets the table for educators to develop their practice and impact student outcomes” (378).  It discusses how to teach students critical thinking and collaborative skills.  The article acknowledges the anxieties that teachers feel after leaving professional development sessions, worried about how to keep adding “another thing to my plate” (378).  However, the article suggests that by making inquiry the center of learning, the curriculum connects the individual student to the community as a whole.

3 Things I Want to Remember:

  • 1. C3LC Project – state-based teams, applied inquiry process to learn about inquiry itself and to address disciplinary literacy need that faces social studies educators.  It “helped teachers discover that inquiry is not another item to add to our ‘plates,’ but can actually ‘be the plate itself'” (378).  Educators created their own curricula and were in control of their learning and development.
  • 2. Such professional development does not need to be done in person – can be done other ways through webinars, online chats, Skype, Google Hangouts, conference calls etc. But, you can’t beat in-person meetings.
  • 3. Teachers became invested in the project and thus became invested in the project – “teachers began meeting own their own for dinner, hikes, or other off-campus gatherings” (379); the social-emotional side of teaching that we address with our students should also be addressed in professional learning. Personal encounters are important (and students may end up doing the same kinds of things)!

2 Controversial Things/Things I Disagree With:

  • 1. Some teachers say they don’t have time to implement more into their classroom – although the transition process of implementing inquiry based learning into classrooms may take some time, once the pattern, environment, and expectations are set then inquiry-based learning won’t appear to “take up” too much time.  Rather, it will (hopefully) incorporate all the other measures that teachers have included in their classrooms.  Inquiry-based learning won’t take up time; it will be what everything else is founded on.
  • 2. Some teachers don’t lean toward inquiry-based learning because they feel pressured to teach to the “test” – by doing inquiry-based learning, social studies teachers can teach students SKILLS related to social studies, which can be used not only for the tests that they have to take, but for real-life applications.  It is less important for students to remember specific dates and facts, but more important that they have the skills to think critically about social studies related issues (analysis, debate, evaluation), which actually can be (and should be) used when taking standardized tests.

1 Question:

  • 1. What role does staff (aides, paras, etc) play in inquiry-based learning? Should they go through the same kind of professional development as described here?
Content Area Reading #13 – Stop, Collaborate and Listen!

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