A few years ago, I was teaching science courses at a high school where inquiry was embraced: my predecessor at that school had been doing it since the 1970's. Now in 2012 I am teaching at a high school where I seem to be the first teacher on the high school side that teaches using inquiry. (We have middle school teachers that embrace it, and my administrators support it, but I'm the first in the high school.) My preferred approach has been to use over 75% inquiry-based methods, because that is how my mentors guided me in the past. I was teaching a different science previously, so, this year Physics is a new subject to me -- i.e. I'm back to the drawing board as far as preparing for this course. Here is what I am using so far: 1. Content Learning Guides. We have Giancoli's book which was bought before I arrived at this school, and I dislike it because there is so little conceptual information; page two of our current chapter goes right into the calculations without much background information. Anyway, I am having my students read Giancoli, but not without some scaffolding and support. They have what are called Content Learning Guides (CLG) which have a basis in building literacy and encouraging focus. Basically they get points for filling out the CLG worksheets as they read the chapters. Either I can make a worksheet and focus it on the most important part of the text, or, they sometimes summarize/paraphrase the important points. 2. Computer Simulations and Activities. I have use of the computer lab 1 day per week, or 20% of the course. During this time, they work on PhET simulations, read Motion Mountain (and answer questions on a CLG while they read), and sometimes have a one-day research project to complete using the internet. 3. Labs. I have four or five lab manuals from different sources. One was written by the 2011 high school "Teacher of the Year" in our state. Unfortunately her school had better equipment than ours, so we can't use all of her labs. Her text is very inquiry-minded and she likes to give students practice with metrics, calculations, case studies, etc. Some of her labs are very enjoyable, hands-on, active, fun, and definitely good for the average high schooler. Another lab book (I forget the name of the author) is a college lab book, and so far we've used two of these labs. They are generally 10-13 pages long because they have a lot of reading, a complex procedure, and a lot of questions. 4. Problems. I am doing my best to get my students examples of problems. So far I have not been doing so well at this. Giancoli's text and problem solution manual leave out too many of the basic steps for my liking - the level of frustration for me and for the students is just too high. So far I have been relying on "The Physics Classroom" website, and a couple others, and I make worksheets from these problems. With those, I like that the proofs/solutions are one click from the problem page. It takes a lot of time to prepare the problems (both for examples and for tests.) Student reaction so far: 1. They are used to teachers who lecture and passively give them information. They are used to labs where teachers walk them through every step and grade them on whether they got the answers "right." There is a lot of resistance to my methods. They dislike that they have to work and invest time and effort and "do" things instead of sit back and listen. 2. I have been struggling a bit on explaining the math and the equations. I did not anticipate that some of the basic steps would be stumbling blocks for them. Before the first test, I had them do several activities about "the steps of solving a problem" and I thought it had sunk in. But on the second chapter quiz, only one student consistently did this (copied the equation, wrote the knowns and unknowns, and a diagram, and included units in every step.) It was no surprise that he aced the quiz without raising a single question. The other students seemed really lost, and were asking me questions during the quiz, and when I came to their desks to help, the first thing I noticed was they had done none of those standard procedures. I still helped them as much as I could (made it a teachable moment instead of a punishment type of experience) but when they turned in those papers without the steps, they lost some points, and then they were upset about that. In the end, it was a teachable moment, and as a result of that difficult quiz day, they all are now doing those types of problems much better. Still, it was messy. 3. About half the class enjoys the projects and does their best on anything I give them. The other half feels that they are not getting a "serious" class because they don't get much lecture and because some of the projects are "fun" (or creative, or involve something other than a written assignment.) I think this is largely a result of the teachers they had in freshman and sophomore year who were very traditional. The "above-average" and more left-brained high schoolers are the ones that give the most resistance. I've found that my methods are very well accepted by the average kids and the struggling kids (who usually do pretty well in my classes because I teach to a variety of learning styles.) I really believe in inquiry-based education, and that the way of the future involves technology. But I'm not getting the buy-in I want, and I'm not finding the perfect materials and resources to make this course run as smoothly as I like. I wish we had a different book, that was more suited to high schoolers (age appropriate) instead of an algebra-based college text. I'm starting to make packets for the students to supplement Giancoli (either my own writing or a compilation of conceptual explanations that I research on the web.) I'm a little frustrated. I know learning is happening, and even on that rough quiz, the scores were not terrible. It's more the mindset of the students that irks me today. It just seems like they're not very adaptable or open-minded compared to the students at my prior school. There's a lot of threads within this post, but I'm just writing here, for some feedback and ideas. For those of you who teach with inquiry, I'm hoping to hear from you what is working for you. And all opinions are welcome! Thank you!