Thursday, December 12, 2019

Inquiry in the Classroom

We need to think about creating classroom environments that give children the opportunity for wonder, mystery, and discovery; an environment that speaks to young children inherent curiosity and innate yearning for exploration is a classroom where children are passionate about learning.

–Heard and McDonough, A Place for Wonder

My favorites moments in the classroom are when there is an excited buzz as my students share their noticing, wonderings, and new learning with each other.    In the last few years I have strived to provide more opportunities for students to engage in inquiry learning.   Inquiry based learning can be teacher directed (especially as students and teachers are new to inquiry-based learning), shared by students and teachers and ultimately directed by students.   The excitement students have in inquiry based learning transfers seamless to their reading, writing, and speaking and listening skills and deepens their passion for learning.  The power behind inquiry based learning is in putting the responsibility for learning on the students while helping them to develop and/or deepen a their understanding of concepts.  

Inquiry learning can be Design Thinking based where students generate ideas and tries them out, Problem Based where students try to solve a real word problem, Scenario Based where students work based on real world examples, or Meta where students are creating questions and activities that support the inquiry.
In my kindergarten classroom most inquiry is lead and guided by me, I spend a lot of time finding resources that can answer students’ wonderings, help them dig deeper in their understandings, and share their thinking.   As the year goes on students become confident, brave, and more curious.  They are also able to take more ownership in the process.  
This year we did an mini-inquiry about bats and my students had some great wonderings.  

My favorite project is fast approaching.  We work as teams to design the best sled.  Just like real engineers we
  1. Ask a question-How can we build the best sled (and brainstorm a list of wonderings)
  2. Imagine what is possible-we think, draw, and plan
  3. Create-try our idea and see what happens
  4. Improve-revise it to make it better.

It is amazing to see what they come up with and how they make it better. 


Inquiry is a way of life. Inquiry based learning is not about a final product at the end; Inquiry based learning is about living in a way that kids’ questions matter. Harvey 2014

Q1:  Do you feel your students have opportunities to engage in inquiry learning?
Q2:  What barriers hold you and your students back and how can they be overcome?
Q3:   Which type of inquiry based learning makes the most sense for your students?
Q4:   What impact does technology have on the inquiry process?

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