Inspiring inquiry-based research at Park

The Foundation is sharing stories from grant and scholarship recipients to show how funding makes an impact. Hear how MCPASD staff, teachers and students are using their grants and scholarships, and see how your dollars make a difference!

Karla Freimuth, a third grade teacher at Park, received a grant for purchasing robotics, construction and technology resources for students to use for inquiry-based research.

She developed a program called Inquiry Hour to help students learn to develop independent or group inquiries, create projects and share their findings.

“The students are enjoying Inquiry Hour!” Freimuth says. “The third grade teachers started the year developing skills that are important for inquiry-based research. We used lessons from the book Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action to model the inquiry process and teach the skills necessary to be successful wonderers and researchers. Teachers also modelled their own inquiry process through a social studies unit on maps.”

She explains how students then worked in teams to develop questions related to maps that they wished to explore further, including early maps, the Earth’s oceans and Africa. Students moved through a four-step inquiry process – question, research, create, share – working individually and in groups to create posters. Students then shared their findings with classmates and parents.

“In mid-October, students in my class began participating in an open-ended Inquiry Hour,” Freimuth adds. “For this first independent inquiry project, students learned how to create Google slides, and they were very excited.”

She says students’ topics ranged from the big bang theory and Egyptian pyramids to karate and guinea pigs.

“The students were completely immersed in their research,” Freimuth adds. “Many asked if they could work on their research and Google slides at home.”

Now, students are developing STEM-related inquiry questions.

“During the last few weeks, students spent time in groups creating different types of bridges,” Freimuth explains. “They are using materials purchased from the grant to develop other STEM-related research questions. One student built her own bridge out of Popsicle sticks at home and brought it in to share with her peers. Engagement level has been high. The students enjoy having a voice and choice in their learning.”

For the rest of the school year, students will participate in Inquiry Hour weekly.

“It’s been fun and rewarding to see their curious minds at work!” Freimuth says.

MCPASD staff, teachers and students who are interested in applying for an Education Foundation grant or scholarship can contact Perry Hibner. To donate to the Foundation, use the link on our donations page, or mail a check to MCPASD Education Foundation, c/o Perry Hibner, 7106 South Avenue, Middleton, WI 53562. Thank you!

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