Aroostook teachers make classrooms inquiry-based

Two teachers work together in a science lab.
Melissa Perley, a Fort Fairfield Middle High School chemistry and physics teacher, works with Jennifer Morin, an agricultural science teacher at Central Aroostook Junior-Senior High School in Mars Hill, during a recent training on inquiry-based learning at Washburn District High School.

Science teachers, agricultural science teachers and student-teachers from the middle- and high-school levels used chemicals, metals and a motor to develop a functioning battery; creatively presented the steps of photosynthesis; and simulated antibiotic treatments, collecting data on their effectiveness in the process.

The activities were part of a training in inquiry-based instruction recently at Washburn District High School, and exercises the teachers could deploy in their classroom.

The training featured Donna Parker, an Ohio high school science teacher and national trainer. She provided the group guidance on proper implementation of inquiry-based instruction, as well as specific strategies and tools to use in their classrooms in order to ensure an exciting, engaging environment for their students.

Inquiry-based instruction focuses on allowing students to take charge of their learning through experimentation, rather than through the traditional delivery of required content.

The responsibility is on the students to conduct investigations and solve problems, often in groups, answering questions they might encounter along the way. Managing this type of instruction can be more challenging for teachers than simply providing students with information and answers, but student learning, engagement, and self-reliance can benefit significantly as a result.

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View the photos with captions on Flickr.

This training was sponsored by the Northeast Agricultural Education Foundation, the National FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) Organization, Lab-Aids, DuPont, Pioneer, the Central Aroostook Council on Education, and the Central Aroostook Math and Science Partnerships.

Fort Fairfield High School science teacher Linda Jones handled training logistics, with funding secured through grants by Maine Department of Education Agriculture and Natural Resources Specialist Doug Robertson.

Resources and more information

  • Doug Robertson, Agriculture & Natural Resources Specialist
    Maine Department of Education

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