Inquiry based learning is a technique whereby a teacher involves students in the learning process through focusing on questions, through problem-solving activities, and the use of critical thinking. Some students prefer this type of learning approach because when they become involved they understand concepts better.
Inquiry based learning is a technique whereby a teacher involves students in the learning process through focusing on questions, through problem-solving activities, and the use of critical thinking. Some students prefer this type of learning approach because when they become involved they understand concepts better. While inquiry-based learning obviously works well in science, consider how you can use this approach for all subjects.
The teaching team analyze the transdisciplinary theme, create a concept driven central idea and lines of inquiry, and formulate guiding questions in order to encourage students to ask their own questions: creating learner relevance, significance, interest and enthusiasm
The teacher questions guide the inquiry and give it structure. The student questions generate understanding and should be explored as much as possible. However, the teacher is the facilitator/coach/guide and is responsible for keeping a focus on the central idea (the BIG IDEA we want students to understand after 6 weeks)
We begin by provoking interest and informally analyzing student prior learning: we can do this by bringing a related item to class*, by telling a related story, or watching a related movie, by playing communication games, by showing a picture, listening to a CD, and by simply having a discussion with the students…
No we can look at formally collecting information about student prior learning: KWL chart KWHL chart, KWL bank (graphic related to central idea*) group-work presentations, jigsaw activities*, drawings, summaries, worksheets appropriate to their expected prior learning* - formative assessment #1
After the initial formative assessments, teachers will begin asking questions and eliciting further questions. Now the inquiry begins! The teacher sets up the activities and discusses the resources/sources of information that can be used
Selecting – choosing the best information and forming ideas
Investigating and determining the most useful information – this information may lead to further questioning and further exploration and discovery of new and useful information. All useful information is recorded in note form or by completing tables/diagrams, etc
Organizing – using the information to support your ideas
Combine the information and arrange it in the correct sequence: structure the argument that will support your ideas. This could be the preparation and planning stage for a group project, demonstration, performance, etc.
Give yourself time to prepare. It is important to give yourself proper time when preparing such lessons. You want to be sure that you are able to guide your students through the process and have proper closure to the lesson with the students' full understanding.
Using collaborative learning. Inquiry-based learning generally works best in a collaborative setting. Try dividing your class into small groups. Give each group a question that they will work on together, and then let them develop a group project
Age-appropriate activities. This approach to learning works well with any age group and with any subject. The key is to make sure that you develop lesson plans that are age-appropriate. Since much of the planning falls on your shoulders, you need to keep your students abilities in mind at all times
Developing good questions. Because inquiry-based learning is based on answering questions, your job is to develop strong questions that are applicable to your lessons. Make sure your questions are open-ended. Also, the purpose of your questions is to promote further questions from students. So, be sure to model good, open and concept based questioning*
Incorporate discovery into lessons. By using our concept based lines of inquiry and teacher questions, our students are encouraged to explore to find the answers. Giving students a chance to discover things on their own can lead to greater conceptual understanding: they may have to research, build, interview, survey, map, measure, locate, create, assemble, explore, role-play, etc.
Incorporate observation into assessment. Observing the learning processes and student dynamics provides the teacher with valuable information as to how students are developing: both academically and personally. Anecdotal records are kept that are used to monitor development of the 5 essential elements.
May also be used to improve future planning and learning when the unit is revisited
Incorporate hands-on activities in lessons. Any opportunity to let students work with their hands is a good way to use inquiry-based learning. Hands-on activities can be used in all subjects. Anything that involves the students physically designing, building, experimenting, problem-solving (using materials) is hands-on.
Attempt to keep the learning processes informal. Inquiry-based learning is structured learning; however, if the questioning takes you in another direction which is still significant and relevant to the central idea, go with it. It is up to us as teachers to guide the inquiry, but, ultimately, the end product and understanding will be a consequence of the students’ desire to learn
Celebrate the learning experience. Teachers and students have ownership of their learning. You work together to produce wonderful evidence of learning: celebrate this learning by displaying work, giving performances, inviting other classes in to view your work, and being proud of your achievements
Plan collaboratively. Every teacher comes from a different background, has different life experiences, has acquired different knowledge and life-skills, and has valuable contributions to give to the PYP. Try to include the whole grade level teaching team when planning units of inquiry: ‘six heads are better then one!’
Extend the learner community. Typically we think of the school as the learner community, but we can extend to the home and the local community. When possible, take students out into the local community to visit places that will compliment the unit of inquiry, or invite experts in to the school. Invite parents to come and talk to the students about their occupations, family histories, etc.