Math Inquiry Lessons for Parents and Teachers

Math inquiry is a philosophy of teaching in which children explore math concepts and construct their own meaning of these concepts. The information here can help you understand the philosophy behind math inquiry lessons and decide whether they will work for your child or classroom.

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Inquiry-Based Math Lessons for Teachers and Parents

Understanding the Basic Philosophy of Inquiry-Based Teaching

Math inquiry seeks to stimulate students to ask questions and find answers. Proponents believe that other teaching models teach facts but not useful applications of those facts. Teachers who use inquiry-based teaching methods guide students to ask questions that will lead them to research the answers. What the students learn through their research will give them the knowledge they need in the subject.

Guiding Children to Ask Questions

Advocates of inquiry-based learning talk about the kinds of questions that need to be asked and believe that different levels of questions help students easily gain useful information. Questions should be focused on getting information that's related to the lesson. The context of the question should be simple enough to allow the students to understand and learn from it.

Teachers and parents who want to use this method should guide students to ask four types of questions. Inference questions are used to seek more knowledge about a subject. Students ask interpretation questions to understand the outcomes of information or ideas. Transfer questions allow students to use the information gained and take it to a new stage or level. Finally, there are hypothesis questions, which are based on logical predictions that can be tested.

Developing Lesson Plans

The format for inquiry-based lesson plans is called the 5-E model. Each step is designed to build on the previous ones.

  1. Engagement: This step gets students motivated for the lesson by tapping into what they've already learned. The teacher provides rules and directions for the rest of the lesson.
  2. Exploration: Activities are done at this stage that aid students in forming their own conclusions. The teacher can supervise and guide the students, asking questions when needed.
  3. Explanation: Students express what they've learned to the class, showing their abstract understanding and processing skills. The teacher will acquaint the students with additional related information and clear up any misconceptions.
  4. Elaboration: Students at this stage will extend the concepts they have learned and connect those concepts to related subjects. They will also find practical applications for the information.
  5. Evaluation: Both teachers and students determine how much has been understood and learned from the lesson. The teacher will see how far the students have come in reaching the educational objectives.
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