Today we had a "teachable moment." One of our students brought in a "mystery item." So we became scientists! Over the past several summers, I have participated in classes through Miami University's Green Institute. The classes are taught using inquiry and teach us how to incorporate inquiry in the classroom. With guided inquiry, I direct students to use their senses to gather information and collect data. The last inquiry lesson we did was a Native American lesson on how the Wamponoag Indians used animals in their daily lives...so it's been awhile and we have missed it! Today reminded me of why inquiry is such a powerful teaching tool.
Students began by studying the object and drawing what they saw. Then students asked questions about the object. Where was it found? Did an animal live in it? Many students knew it was a bird's nest and cheered when that was confirmed. Now, what type of bird created this nest? It is extraordinary and unique. We discussed what resources we could use to help us search for our answers. Students decided books and the internet were the most useful tools. Some students began to look right away. We found an illustration of a Weaver Bird's nest and it looks very similar, however, it appears to be larger and use different materials. And we do not know the circumstances, but that is what inquiry is all about. We will keep searching. We may never exactly know what type of bird created the nest, but that is okay. We are learning how to ask questions and how to search for answers. The students will learn more through the process.