Our Inquiry Approach

Concept Based Integration and Inquiry Learning

1. Classroom Implementation

  • The inquiry focus is the framework for developing skills and understanding.
  • The Concept, Enduring Understanding and Essential Skills are based on the school-wide focus for the year/term/syndicate.
  • This will generate common discussion and connections in learning across the school.

2. Introduction to the format of Inquiry (General Guidelines to be adapted appropriate to level of children)

  • Display the Concept, Enduring Understandings, and Essential Skills in a range of key spaces around the school. This can be done once the set skills have been decided on, and concepts have been developed. They can be put in a ‘framework’ which is easy and quick to read.
  • Classroom, foyer, newsletters, hall, assemblies etc
  • Large, distinct and easy for all students to read

3. Introducing Concept, Enduring Understandings, and Essential Skills

  • Reveal one at a time either during a lesson or over a few days
  • Make sure they have the tools to think with (graphic organisers etc)

4. Identify/Explore key aspects of Enduring Understanding and Essential Skills.

  • e.g. Mind Maps, Brainstorm, Discuss and clarify meaning: Small/whole group discussion/feed back/Charting, Paraphrase (where necessary) for very young students

5. Discuss (display for reference) learning intentions and skills your class will be focusing on.

  • Make sure there are clear progressions for each skill, and that the students are aware of these before, during, as well as after the learning occurs.
  • Make the skills easily assessable as part of your classroom programme, rather than extra work.

6. Establish the questioning process in the classroom

  • What do I know? What do I want to know? How will I find out? What new learning am I doing? How will I apply this? What new questions do I have?
  • Make the children familiar with questioning tools, such as the staircase etc

7. Establish an Integrated Inquiry Learning environment  

  • Your classroom needs to inspire. There should be easy references for the kids to use in Inquiry, work displayed well. Taking pride in one’s classroom, sets the standard and lets the kids know what is expected of them, encouraging them to take pride in their work.
  • Ways to display…Thinking Space, I wonder Wall, Word Splash, Inquiry results, Thinking tools/Toolkit, Group roles and responsibilities, Models of questioning, thinking processes, text forms and features etc

The Teachers Role

  • To provide guidance where needed on an individual, small group or a whole class basis, as appropriate
  • To facilitate learning, rather than instruct.
  • Foster curiosity, discovery, creativity and independence

 On the road to Independent Inquiry Based Learning

  • Set problems so that the problem solvers are placed in a role other than that of student. Create authentic situation to engage and stimulate. Consider infusion of Thinking Tools, Learning Behaviours, MI, Learning Styles.
  • Hook students using an authentic (realistic creation) resources or settings. The hook should contain the detail that will enable the students to plan and process through to an identified solution.
  • Possible hooks to engage inquiry: Situation, Document, Person or organization with a problem  or request, Dramatic skits, Video clips, Newspaper articles, Notice from an agency (council, DOC etc), Phone message.

 Getting the Questioning Right

  • Teaching specific questioning skills is important –without a good question, how can we inquire?
  • Prompt How can we ….so that we…… e.g. “How can we reorganise the lunchtimes and playtimes so that all children:
  • Get a chance to use the playground?
  • Play safe?
  • Are not intimidated?
  • Understand the rules?
  • Coach students through constant reflection on the problem and strategies used. New learning changes and informs student understanding of the nature of the problem and therefore changes the problem statement.
  • Map potential causes, solutions, and consequences (graphic organisers)
  • Student choice of approach and strategies
  • Infuse modelling of Metacognition, Process, Thinking skills, graphic organisers
  • Gather Information and share collaboratively.
  • Share with class e.g. jigsaw, pyramid, numbered heads together
  • Generate possible solutions, Articulate possible solutions
  • Go back to problem statement and begin to record solutions based on information gathered and shared
  • Collate and identify and share solutions 

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