The Institute for Inquiry® (IFI) is a professional development program that addresses the theory and practice of inquiry-based science education. Inquiry is an approach to learning that involves exploring the natural or material world in a way that leads to asking questions, making observations, planning investigations to develop explanations, rigorously testing those explanations, and discussing and debating results with others—all in the service of coming to a deeper understanding of scientific phenomena and scientific practices. IFI workshops and seminars are tailored to a variety of participants: professional developers, administrators, lead teachers, national education reform leaders, out-of-school educators, and the museum and university communities.
IFI has worked with more than 6,900 lead teachers and professional developers from districts, universities, and museums from over 1,000 districts and projects in 49 states and 17 countries. IFI participants have influenced at least 200,000 teachers, and those teachers in turn have influenced 6 million students internationally.
In addition, IFI has created an online curriculum for professional developers (funded by the National Science Foundation), including the series Fundamentals of Inquiry and Formative Assessment in Inquiry. These guides are used by professional developers to give workshops that introduce elementary school teachers to inquiry-based approaches to science teaching. To date, more than 10,000 educators worldwide have downloaded the curriculum.
IFI is currently collaborating with the Sonoma Valley Unified School District and the San Francisco Unified School District in programs to engage elementary teachers in professional development that supports the integration of science and English language development (ELD). Research points to powerful connections between science learning and the processes of language acquisition. Instructional strategies that integrate the two have the potential to greatly reinforce both, improving the achievement of English language learners as well as native English speakers. To learn more about IFI’s approach to integrating science and ELD, visit our Educators Guide for Inquiry-based Science and English Language Development.
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