Constructivism and Historical Inquiry

Museums, Exhibits, Forums and Constructivism -

With a focus on historical inquiry, museums, exhibits, and academic forums are poised to raise interest in students by the sheer nature of their development. Generally, these opportunities provide high interest, engaging experiences for those at whom they are presented. They are generally relevant and tell a story about the human condition and traces the past into the present, giving people a sense of history.

The constructivist approach to facilitation and learning allows students to scaffold experiences into concepts. Around these museums and exhibits, human curiosity to know more is a by-product of a "hands-on, minds-on" experience.

At the root of constructivism is inquiry, or the ability for students to ask their own questions about what is relevant in the learning that is taking place. Inquiry is at the root of Project, Problem, Place, and Team-Based Learning. If curriculum extensions are pursued by teachers, museums and exhibits are great opportunities to build projects around student inquiry that drives writing actiivities and projects driveng by student questioning.

The "Great Textbook War" team encourages students to have questions ready for panelists and moderators that drive learning in directions that engage students in rigorous and relevant inquiry. Students and teachers should view the exhibit on-siteor on this Wikiso that rich questions can be developed by students in exploring the controversy of 1974 in Kanawha County. Through developing questions, students will be driving (and in charge) of their own learning. Retention of "owned" content is 100% certain.

Children in the 21st Century have access to tremendous amounts of information, which is difficult to synthesis because of the sheer amount of that information. When teachers encourage utilizing prior experience tied to exposure to new content, like museums and exhibits, rich projects can abound with opporunity to synthesize all of past and new experience into meaningful content.

As teachers and students prepare for the forum, developing rich questions is suggested. Extensions to learning in all of the classes where students can use the exhibit, the documentary, and the forum should be a goal. Writing assignments, reflective writing, and whole project units are possibilities. We hope you prepare to get what you want and need for your classes from this experience.

For questions or concerns about this page or have technical issues, please send an e-mail to Mark Swiger.