Collaborative inquiry thought

posted May 21, 2011, 4:44 PM by Paul Lamson-LaPlume
This is an idea that percolated to coherence while I was doing dishes: what if we embark on a long-range collaborative inquiry ultimately designed at offering choice within assignments and assessments.  In some sense it is like the idea of honors challenge meeting differentiation but it's more flexible as it can be applied in either a CP or honors level.  The eventual goal is that almost every assignment would allow the student to choose what blend of basic practice and extension questions they would like to try.  This would play out on assessments as students choosing to do their customized blend of more basic problems, each worth a small number of points, versus a few harder and more involved problems worth more points each (perhaps even resulting in a sum greater than the assessments total points so as to offer an incentive via points that can be lost without penalty).  The baseline difficulty of all problems will be determined by the level of the course: in an honors course, even the basic problems will uphold the additional rigor of the honors level and the more challenging problems would be natural extensions that might not otherwise be reached in an honors course.  Whereas for CP, the baseline problems would be the minimum content that a CP student should exit the course with and the challenge problems can tap into honors-level material.
As this is a lofty goal, it can be started by targeting one specific unit in one course and in subsequent years, additional units can be targeted until we are comfortable with this new approach and all relevant units have been modified.
I see this as a way to challenge my teaching but also reach out to students where they are.  I've had a string of unfulfilling inquiries and I'm looking to break this streak by choosing a project that naturally builds but can start very attainable.  Thoughts?