Inquiry-based learning is a style of teaching that is based on asking questions that kids honestly care about and guiding them to find the answers as well as coming up with new questions along the way. Dewey’s description of the four primary interests of the child are still appropriate starting points:
- the child’s instinctive desire to find things out
- in conversation, the propensity children have to communicate
- in construction, their delight in making things
- in their gifts of artistic expression.
It makes sense to teach this way. However, it takes more than just letting go and letting students choose questions. The first year you implement inquiry-based learning is a big paradigm shift. I put together 12 tips that could help you as you jump into the inquiry-based learning approach.
- Plan enough time to pre-plan, plan, and plan again during implementation. Even though inquiry-based learning is student-centered, planning involves much more prep time.
- Start with a topic that encourages inquiry. Review your curriculum and choose a topic that you believe will motivate and engage your students.
- Choose 20% of your time for inquiry. Some teachers are not ready to convert their entire curriculum to inquiry-based learning. You might want to look at transforming your classroom 20% of the time.
- Flip your classroom for this unit. Create a blog or website to host videos and information about the concepts you want students to understand. You can even video and post your lectures. Ask students to review the concepts you posted on their own. Then use classroom time for sharing, collaborating, lab work, research, writing, and production.
- Pose real questions. Model open-ended questions where there are no right answers. Consider the following questions about the questions you ask:
– What do I want to know about this topic?
– What do I know about my questions?
– How do I know it?
– What do I need to know?
– What could an answer be?
- Encourage co-designing the curriculum. Share the standards or performance skills with your students that are to be met during this inquiry-based lesson or unit. Since the unit is student-driven, students can develop what assist in what they plan to learn and own it.
- Develop rubric for assessing learning. Invite students to contribute to the development of the rubric. You can start with a few criteria using Rubistar and then ask students to refine and add to the criteria.
- Group students for collaborative learning. Divide students into small groups. Encourage each group to develop a driving question that they will work on together, and then let them develop a project based on the question.
- Have students collect resources. Students can use Google Docs or a Wiki to collaborate as they collect websites, images, videos, podcasts, documents, etc. that supports the topic. asks more questions, and helps answer their questions.
– What kinds of resources might help me find the answers?
– Where do I find the resources?
– How do I know if the resources are valid?
– How can you ensure responsibility and authority?
– What other information is available?
- Monitor progress. Share a checklist with the groups and then ask them to refine the checklist to meet each group’s needs. Then refer to the checklist while developing project.
- Interpret information. Encourage students to ask these questions about the information they collected:
– How is this information relevant to my topic?
– What parts of the information supports my answers and does not support my answers?
– Does it raise new questions?
- Present findings. Have students present to each other and ask for feedback and any other questions that their presentation raises.
Learning begins with the learner. What children know and what they want to learn are the very foundations of learning.