INQUIRY CIRCLES FOR MATH WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? Currently I am taking my masters classes through MSU to earn a literature specialist endorsement. During one class we were presented with the concept of inquiry circles and the benefits that they provide to students. I thought many times while reading the inquiry circle book, “It would be amazing to apply these same concepts to mathematics curriculum.” WHAT IS AN INQUIRY CIRCLE? An inquiry circle is a small peer-led research group that is responding to student driven questions. They encourage students to explore, gather information, plan, analyze, interpret, synthesize, problem solve, take risks, create, conclude, document, reflect on learning, and develop new questions for further inquiry. Sackatchewan Online Curriculum, 2011, pg 2 Zosky, Schwab, & Fedorcha, slide 4 EXAMPLE OF AN INQUIRY CIRCLE Inquiry: Antarctica Building prior knowledge/background knowledge Cross curricular integration Asking Questions Research Conclusion/Presentation WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF INQUIRY CIRCLES? All students: Construct deep knowledge and understanding rather than passively receiving it Are directly involved and engaged in the discovery of new knowledge Encounter alternative perspectives and conflicting ideas that transform prior knowledge and experience into deep understanding Transfer new knowledge and skills to new circumstances Take ownership and responsibility for their ongoing learning and mastery of curriculum content and skills Kuhlthau & Toddm 2008, pg.1 BENEFITS OF SMALL GROUP WORK Lifelike Generate energy for challenging work In small groups we are smarter Diversity is an asset Engaged, interactive learning Differentiated instruction Harvey & Daniels 2009 WHAT DO INQUIRY CIRCLES LOOK LIKE? Managed choice for students Article General problem of choice Mini-lessons Strategies for reasearch Small group communication Classroom arrangement Desks in groups for discussion and group work Supplies readily available for all Zosky, Schwab, & Fedorcha, slide 6 APPLING INQUIRY CIRCLES TO MATH In mathematics, inquiry heavily encompasses problem solving. Problem solving includes processes to get from what is known to discover what is unknown. When teachers show students how to solve a problem and then assign similar problems, the students are just practicing. Well formulated questions are broad in scope and rich in possibility. Sackatchewan Online Curriculum, 2011, pg 2 MATHEMATICS EXAMPLE Question: Evelyn is reading about Windermere Castle in Scotland. Many years ago, when prisoners were held in various cells in the dungeon area, they began to dig passages connecting each cell to each of the other cells in the dungeon. If there were 20 cells in all, what is the fewest number of passages that had to be tunneled out over the years? MATH INQUIRY QUESTIONS Should: Help students make sense of the mathematics Are open ended in either answer or approach Require the application of facts and procedures Encourage students to make connections and generalizations Lead students to wonder more about a topic Schuster & Canavan Anderson, 2005, pg 3 OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS WEB SITES Here are two really good websites where you can find good open-ended questions covering a variety of math concepts: http://www.fi.edu/school/math2/index.html http://www.uky.edu/OtherOrgs/ARSI/www.uky.edu/p ub/arsi/openresponsequestions/mathorg.pdf Find one good question. Describe how you envision your students participating in an inquiry circle related to that question. EXAMPLES FROM THE CLASSROOM Go to: http://www.learner.org/resources/series13.html Once here there are a variety of math lessons that you can watch as examples of what an inquiry circle might look like. Are there any questions? REFERENCES Harvey, S., & Daniels, H. (2009). Inquiry Circles in Actions. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Kuhlthau, C., & Todd, R. (2008). Guided Inquiry: A framework for learning through school libraries in the 21st century schools. Newark, NJ: Rutgers University. Saskatchewan Online Curriculum. (2011). Inquiry in Mathematics. Saskatchewan Ministry of Education. Schuster, L., & Canacan Anderson, N. (2005). Good questions for math teaching: Why ask them and what to ask, Grades 5-8. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications. Zosky, D., Schwab, S., & Fedorcha, L. Literature Circles II.