Inquiry at the Window: Pursuing the Wonders of Learners

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Pearson Education, 1997 - Education - 159 pages
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It is a commonplace occurrence: a group of students gathers at the classroom window, watching the activities of birds and sharing their informal observations. But for Phyllis Whitin, her class, and her collaborator, David Whitin, what began as a common event grew into an uncommon journey of shared wonder and discovery.

On one level, Inquiry at the Window is the story of an elementary classroom's yearlong study of birds. But it is also the story of children looking closely at their world, raising questions, confronting scientific problems, and becoming empowered by the fruits of their own efforts. It is the story of inquiry itself and an inspiration for any educator concerned with preserving and fueling the innate sense of wonder we all possess.

In order to support their belief that inquiry is a spiraling, interwoven process, the authors do not offer a strictly chronological account of their year. Rather, they start with the premise that firsthand experience must be the beginning point for scientific study. We see students throughout the year sharing observations, interpreting their own scientific data, and constructing tentative theories. We also see them conversing with a community of learners that includes families, members of wildlife societies, and ornithologists--a remarkable process that generates further questions and legitimizes children as scientific thinkers in their own right.

Inquiry at the Window leaves the reader not with a prescriptive formula to follow but with a vision of learning that celebrates surprise, thrives on doubt, and honors multiple perspectives. It will be a valuable resource for preservice and inservice teachers who want a close look at interdisciplinary learning.

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Inquiry Demands a Critical Use of Resources
Inquiry Invites Exploratory Conversations
Inquiry Focuses and Refocuses Investigations

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About the author (1997)

David J. Whitin is a Professor of Elementary Education at Wayne State University, where he teaches courses in mathematics education and elementary school curriculum. David has been an elementary school principal and teacher. David has a Baccalaureate degree from Princeton University, a master's degree from Boston University, an M.A.T. from the University of New Hampshire, and a doctorate in elementary education from Indiana University. David's presentations are lively and interactive. He involves teachers themselves in a variety of experiences so that they have the opportunity to reflect on their own learning. He shares numerous samples of children's work to demonstrate how teachers have enacted these beliefs about learning in creative ways. He has frequently spoken for such groups as NCTE, NCTM, IRA and many groups nationally and internationally.PHYLLIS WHITIN teaches language arts and children's literature courses at Wayne State University. She has spent twenty-five years working with children in settings ranging from preschool to middle school. Phyllis has a B.A. degree from Bates College, an M.A.T. from the University of New Hampshire, and a Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina. The National Council of Teachers of English named her a finalist for the Promising Researcher Award in 1994 for her doctoral research in visual response to literature. Phyllis' wealth of classroom experience gives her a sensitivity to the demands placed on classroom teachers. Her lively, interactive sessions offer practical activities and strategies that are based on solid research. She speaks regularly about her classroom work at NCTE, IRA, and NCTM conferences, as well as with other organizations both nationally and internationally.

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