When teachers, administrators and district leaders first encounter Inquiry By Design through a colleague, a workshop, or online, they often want to know what our district partners and regular clients have to say about their experience. Occasionally on our blog we like to share feedback we receive.
Michael McDonald is an assistant principal at Summit High School in Bend, Oregon. He is a former ELA teacher and has supported and supervised the ELA department over the past year to pilot Inquiry By Design’s curriculum and professional development.
I must confess a strong bias toward pedagogy that invites student voice, research, reasoning and argument as a matter regular practice. Though many teachers share my bias, I find most classrooms dominated by teacher voice, teacher research etc. etc. The IBD approach provides what I would consider a strong antidote to teaching habits that seem sometimes impossible to, well, cure (an unfair characterization, I know).
The best part of the IBD program is this: ALL students are made to grapple with difficult text without being overly prejudiced by a teacher’s or fellow students’ interpretation. The collective wisdom that is often left untapped in a classroom is brought into the open, patiently, and students begin to see what it means to read closely, intentionally, thoughtfully. I regularly ask students about their experiences (and fail regularly to record or video the responses). What I hear from them is usually about their understanding (how confident or curious it is) their work (how challenging it is) and their surprise (at how, and how much, meaning is available to readers who are persistent and open).
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