Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Technology to Facilitate Inquiry Learning

Educational fads seem to come and go, and then they sometimes come back around again. However, at Sioux Central we do not view our one-to-one laptop initiative as an educational fad. For us it grew organically from the work we have been doing the past four years.

Sioux Central had the first charter school in the state of Iowa earlier in this decade. It was an innovative elementary, separate, but within our same elementary building. The students had no textbooks. Instead, the students all had laptops and explored subjects using inquiry learning.

When the charter school funding dried up, we dropped the charter concept, not because it did not work, but rather because we did not need charter status to do what we were doing. We recognized the power of the inquiry learning the students were doing, and we decided to integrate the instructional concept throughout all grade levels. When the Iowa Core Curriculum came into being with its emphasis on inquiry learning, we at Sioux Central felt we were already ahead of the curve.

The most important part of inquiry learning is putting the questions to the students and letting the students find the answers. As of last winter, we believed we had reached a point in our development of inquiry-based learning that we needed more powerful resources and research tools to take our instruction to a high level.

So for us, laptop instruction is not a fad. It is a natural extension of what we have been doing the last four years. There may be some schools that are going one-to-one in response to other schools that are already doing it. But for Sioux Central, it was a necessary and logical progression in our curricular development.

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