“Minds on, not just hands on” is the central theme during the development process of G2 classes. Approximately 380 students, representing MCSD demographics, are involved with the inquiry-based approach at the middle and high school levels. If you walk the halls of Muscatine High School, you may find students making water purification systems, investigating service learning, or creating new bus routes. At the middle school level, you may find students researching trash statistics, documenting Muscatine history through interviews, or writing essays related to a community scavenger hunt. Students are taking on the role of researchers, designers, and investigators as they explore the content using an inquiry-based approach. The community partnerships are critical to the success of this approach as teachers and students explore content through connections in the real world.
The inquiry-based approach is an instructional method built upon authentic learning activities that engage studentinterest and motivation. These strategies are designed to answer a question or solve a problem and generally reflect the types of learning and work people do in the everyday world. Classes are designed with an emphasis of assisting a groupof diverse students to become college and career ready as they graduate from high school. Design principles that form the foundation of G2 include Personalization, Adult World Connection, College/Career Ready, and Teacher as Designer.
Significant learning experiences are increased when the following pieces are in place: connections, emotional component, and critical learning or key concepts. The significant learning provides a deeper understanding and offers additional perspectives that are at the core of the inquiry approach. Each project that students complete addresses essential questions that are relevant not only in the academic arena, but also in the world beyond school. The experiences culminate in a product or performance, with intermediate “checkpoints” along the way. They also involve ongoing reflection on the part of teachers and students. The transformation of teaching and learning has created a path for post-secondary success that inspires students and teachers to obtain a deeper knowledge of necessary skills to be successful in the 21st Century.