Inquiry in 600 Words

Have you heard of an inquiry teaching method? Don’t know what it is or how it works? Are students just free to do whatever they want? Are you still confused? Well, you are not alone; there are many teachers who are not familiar with the term inquiry-based learning. The PYP promotes a guided inquiry approach that develops students learning through several skills. Through these, students own their learning by making choices themselves on how best they might learn.

What is Inquiry?

Inquiry allows the students to be involved in their learning process and take responsibility for their learning. It can be defined as the process that is started by the students or teachers to move the students from their existing level of understanding to a deeper level of understanding.

.Inquiry-based teaching is created on the knowledge and interests of the individual students with both students and teachers working together. The learning is designed to reach all students and to allow for exploration and wonder. Allowing for further differentiation and agency for all students to choose how they best learn to move to a deeper understanding of a specific concept.

We are challenged to create a classroom that is learning-centric, engaging, appropriately challenging, and authentic. I consider myself more of a facilitator rather than being a distributor of knowledge. Moreover, the learning process is accessible and transparent for the whole learning community to take part in and more importantly to be involved in. Teachers work together to review, reflect, and revise the unit of inquiry to further reflect our current student population.

Giving students room to explore on their own, to learn from their exploration and to further grow their understanding and desire to learn.

Examples of what inquiry might look like.

  • Wondering, exploring, and questioning
  • Trying and playing with possibilities
  • Coming up with theories and testing them
  • Predicting and acting on them to see the outcome
  • Making connections between current and previous learning
  • Simplifying the existing ideas and reevaluating the perceptions of events
  • Gathering information and reporting the findings
  • Researching and seeking data
  • Resolving problems in a wide range of ways

Different Forms of Inquiry

There are numerous forms of inquiry depending on the curiosity of the students and their wanting and needing to know more about the world. Inquiry can be most successful only if the questions and inquires of the students are their own. Ownership is essential in helping them deepen their level of understanding.

Types of Student Inquiry made by Trevor MacKenzie found here.
I have found this poster to be incredibly helpful in explaining inquiry and the different types.

The structure of the learning environment and the behavior demonstrated by teachers and parents will set the basis for meaningful participation and inquiry. The expectation of the PYP is that successful inquiry will result in responsible action started by the students during the learning process.

Reflection has a critical role in the learning process and doesn’t happen just at the end of a unit. It is happening on a daily basis to see if our opinions have shifted or understandings have changed. My students learn best when they are reflecting on their learning in today’s world. Inquiry teaching allows for extensive student voice and ownership while also maintaining a challenging and engaging atmosphere.

 In this way, the students will be able to ask questions and find answers about their own wonderings to solve the next great problem.

So what does inquiry mean to you? What have been your challenges and success? Comment down below and let’s chat!

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