Tuesday Feb 22, 2022
Integrating Inquiry-Based Learning with Dr. Frank LaBanca
Why is inquiry-based learning such a powerful part of modern education? In this episode of Fueling Creativity, Dr. Cyndi Burnett and Dr. Matthew Worwood speak with Dr. Frank LaBanca, a teacher, educational researcher, and change agent based in Connecticut. Frank is one of the few public-school principals, nationally, that teaches students in his own classroom. Tune in to learn his approach to inquiry-based learning, a significant part of his strategic planning in founding the Westside Middle School Academy Magnet.
Frank shares why he prioritizes inquiry-based learning in the classroom over other approaches to education as well as the role of inquiry-based learning in developing creativity and problem-solving skills. He speaks on the power of teaching students to ask meaningful questions, how he does that, and how he helps teachers develop the capacity to implement and manage project-based learning in the classroom.
“Inquiry is questioning and investigation. In that simple elegance, it’s a wonderful way to approach learning because children can ask meaningful questions and seek their own idiosyncratic, diverse methods to try to solve those problems.” - Dr. Frank LaBanca
Frank also highlights the value of teachers not being the ultimate evaluators of students’ work, rather their work being evaluated by others in the real world. Then, he divulges how he selected new faculty for his school, the challenges he and his administrative colleagues are currently facing, and how his creative projects outside of school that inspire his professional development.
Frank’s Tips for Teachers and Parents:
- Spend time problem-finding. Don’t rush students through the process of developing ideas for study.
- Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Let it be exciting to not have answers for your students’/kids’ questions. Have confidence to facilitate the process of finding their own answers.
- There’s a continuum between developing ideas and solving ideas. Don't be focused on just solving ideas.
“Developing questions takes time and students need and deserve the time to go through that process of evaluating questions.” - Dr. Frank LaBanca
“I think a really important part of inquiry is you learn to do and about at the same time.”
- Dr. Frank LaBanca
Listen to the episode with Natalie NixonListen to the episode with Jeffrey Davis
Listen to the episode with Dr. Vlad Glaveanu
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About Dr. Frank LaBanca:
Dr. Frank LaBanca is a teacher, educational researcher, and change agent. He is the Founding Principal of the Westside Middle School Academy magnet in Danbury, Connecticut. Previously he was the Director of the Center for 21st Century Skills at Education Connection as well as a 16-year high school biology and science research teacher. Dr. LaBanca has also taught and supervised research at the university level in both Biology and Educational Leadership. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, whitepapers, and research conference presentations. Having taught well over 2000 students, Dr. LaBanca’s most meaningful contribution to education is conducting extended open-inquiry authentic applied research with students. Over his tenure, numerous students have been nationally recognized for their work. He is one of the few public school principals, nationally, that teaches his own class with students.
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