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.
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.
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.
Web navigation, use of email, and sound with streaming video are required.
Evaluation and Observation
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.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
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!
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
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.
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.