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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Journey North Menu of Inquiry Strategies

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Jul 23, 2005 by Teacher Education
Overview:

Appropriately billed as "A menu of inquiry startegies, this resource provides

background for teachers as they develop inquiry-based classrooms. To fully
appreciate the material, users should also access the mirror site, where they
will find Journey North to be a collection and case study resource useful for
creating SEASONAL EVENTS to help K-8 teachers
integrate
math and science and social studies and language arts education into an
experience a children are unlikely to forget.

Learning Goals:

This site aims to support the development of inquiry oriented teaching
through guiding teachers to create a climate of inquiry, to develop productive
discussions and questions, and to "act like a scientist" in planning
investigations and gathering, interpreting, and evaluating data.

The major learning goal is to see how some aspect of the natural world changes
with the seasons. Examples include spring flower blooms or Monarch butterfly
migration.

Target Student Population:

In service and preservice teachers and their students at grades 2-8 are the
target for the materials.

Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:

Pedagogical knoweldege of the learner is required for decisions regarding
which
aspects of Journey North are appropriate for use with any specific student
population in a given semester. But the instructional resources designed to
accompany materials for use by
children requires very little explicit knowledge of teaching.

Type of Material:

The material depends on stories and data that emerge with the season - in
other
words it involves instruction that requires readinesss for teachable moments.
The materials in the Menu of Inquiry Strategies are print based.

Recommended Uses:

Class room teachers and others who work with the science inquiry materials on

the Journey North Site could use these materials.

Ideally every k8 teacher should be exposed to the Journey North
model of techology use for empowering experiential education.

Technical Requirements:

Web navigation, use of email, and sound with streaming video are required.


Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths:

Journey North involves experts in helping chidren look at empirical evidence
appropriate for an
inquiry-oriented classroom where the teacher is a co-explorer and guide who
cultivates curiosity and challenges students to think and act like scientists as
they explore intriguing questions. This web site is part of a larger Online
community of classrooms from 11,000
schools, representing more than 490,000 students track wildlife such as monarch
butterflies across North America during the spring migration. The instructional
approach integrates various disciplines in science, math, social studies,
development of personal ethics, and language arts. Explicit strategies are
provided to help both novice and experienced teachers create a climate for
inquiry, support productve discussions, generate questions, plan investigations
and gather data, guide consideration of evidence, and critically review research
reports. The strength of this site is its placement with the other resources of
the
Journey North site. Although The Menu of Inquiry Strategies provides little new
information about
questioning techniques and designing inquiry based activities, the proximity
with other materials increases its value.

Concerns:

None.


Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths:

The Menu of Inquiry Strategies including Strategies for Facilitating
Discussions
and asking, "How Do We Know What We Know?" show
teachers that K-12 students can share their own field observations
with classmates across North America as they track the coming of spring
- with standards-based lesson plans, activities and information to help
students make local observations and
fit them into a global context. One reviewer agrees that Journey North
is the nation's premiere "citizen science"
project for children - and it makes even an adult who has become immune
to the change of each season want to notice what will happen with our next new
season!

Concerns:

The only limitation for using this resource as teacher education material is
the
fact that the content flow barely fits into the semester time frame typical at
universities where teachers are trained. The material is inappropriate for
colleges on the quarter system. Given this limitation, it is essential for
professional development using the material to be targeted to in-service
teachers.


Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths:

Links to other resources in Journey North are easily accessible through icons

representing news, Spring's Journey North, data reporting, and use of the
resource
including a site search. By registering for an event, one gets weekly email
newsletters that contain more than enough material for lesson plans to develop
lesson plans that integrate what happens on Journey North with learning goals
for each week. Another way to access the resources is through the Mirror Site.
Navigation within the Menu of Inquiry Strategies is
supported both by a button to return users to the main menu and links within
each menu category. One reviewer used the Monarch Migration as an integrating
theme throughout the
semester in a college course for prospective K6 teachers. It was exciting when
the future K6 teachers - who normally abhor science - related our local Monarch
migrations to an emerging
pattern of nationwide seasonal data.

Concerns:

There is so much to be learned by teachers and their students from the
Journey
North approach to education. One concern is that the "No Child Left
Behind" Act has positioned states to assess "easy-to-measure" learning outcomes
- whereas many of the outcomes from Journey North - positive attitudes about the

role of exploration and a feeling of connectedness to the natural world - are
not assessed. A fear is that use of Journey North teaching materials may
diminish because of the
current assessment climate in K8 schools.


Other Issues and Comments:

Journey North provides an exciting and memorable learning experience.
Students
at all cognitive levels can participate in their own ways. One reviewer hopes
that education experts will look carefully at this material to identify more
clearly what children gain - and then to move toward including such gains among
the
measurable components reported as quality indicators for the "No Child Left
Behind" Act.