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What’s the right move?

A few school districts around the country are giving us a glimpse of what school may look like come August and September of 2020.

West Bloomfield school district in Michigan announced its plans to have a mix of in-person and remote learning. Students would be split into two groups and each group would attend school in-person just two days a week. One group would physically show up for learning on Monday and Tuesday while the other group would learn remotely. The groups would swap roles on Thursday and Friday.

All students would work remotely on Wednesdays and the schools would be disinfected on Wednesdays and the Weekends.

Meanwhile, in Lousiana, Tangipahoa Parish announced their intentions to allow parents to choose if their children will learn remotely or attend in person.

“I began to think about it and we’re going to have some families, no question, who are going to be fearful of sending their children to school in August for fear they could catch something and bring it home,” Superintendent Melissa Stilley told the Advocate. “Maybe a student has asthma or diabetes or an immune system issue and I think there will be a small population (of parents) who may be working at home and can have their children there doing full virtual learning.”

No matter which decision school districts make going into the fall, it’s becoming clear that there are no great options.

In Episode 152 of Class Dismissed, we discuss the choices and reflect on the CDC’s guidelines for reopening schools in the fall.

Inquiry-Based​ Learning

We also talk with Inquiry-Based Learning expert Trevor MacKenzie. MacKenzie has authored two books on the topic and just returned from an Australian Tour in which he was spreading the word about Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL).

For MacKenzie, IBL is all about getting the students to have a more active roll in the class and exploring students’ questions and curiosities as entry points into the curriculum.

“Sometimes that teacher is in the front of the room and leading the way so to speak,” says MacKenzie. “Sometimes that teacher is that guide along the ride. Someone who facilitating and supporting learnings.”

Makenzie, who trains educators around the globe on how to implement IBL says they’re trying to do is give the classroom experience over to the students. He says students should be able to take ownership of what they’re learning.

Where does an educator begin?

Makenzie pushes for a gradual release of responsibility from the teacher to the student.

“I always start my unit design with a big overarching ‘Un-Googleable’ question and I make that question front and center in my classroom,” says MacKenzie.

He’s even built an infographic where he models IBL like a swim coach teaching someone to swim. He even hangs the picture in the classroom for his students to see and he encourages teachers to download and print the picture for their own classrooms.

Inquiry Based Learning

MacKenzie is also really big on provocation. He shows students a lot of videos tied to their curriculum to spark interest and curiosity, but he’s ultimately determining wha questions his students have around the curriculum.

Want to learn more?

Mackenzie has authored two books on the topic. He says if you teach middle school or high school “Dive into Inquiry” is for you. If you teach younger students you may want to read “Inquiry Mindset.”

To hear our full conversation about Inquiry-Based Learning with Trevor MacKenzie, listen to Episode 152 on your favorite podcasting app or iTunes.

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