Importance of Inquiry in the Classroom

The Importance of Inquiry in the Class

 

Background

When you hear Inquiry based teaching what do you think? Is it simply just asking students what they want to learn and teach that? No, it is about sparking the curiosity to research a problem or a question they have about a topic. (Gawron) With inquiry based learning teachers have been able to create a unique classroom environment where the teacher isn’t the only one talking, teaching, and creating questions, the students are helping as well and in some cases doing more than the teacher. Inquiry teaching can be done in many different ways; from showing a mysterious picture to the students and they decipher what the picture is depicting to having the students find topics or problems that interest them and allowing class time to research them and present them to their peers to show their knowledge. (Gawron) We hope that after going through the interview, principles of inquiry, and some of our resources you are encouraged to incorporate inquiry into your class and have the knowledge how to incorporate it.

 

 

Principles of Inquiry

A inquiry based lesson plan is different from a traditional lesson plan for the fact that content is introduced and controlled by the students rather then the teacher taking the lead. Even though the teacher will provide the objectives and assessments, students will be in charge over how the content is gone over. Inquiry based learning is typically started using a main idea question over the content they are covering. This will allow students the opportunity to ask questions related to the main question and to branch other questions off of the main idea. The main idea must be a great question that allows multiple This allows the students the chance to ask questions they believe is important towards the content rather being constrained to only questions the teacher believes is important. Even though students will be in charge of their learning, teachers still need to be prepared by making standard lesson plans.

Benefits of Inquiry in the Class

 

1. Engages the students When working with students one of the hardest things for teachers to accomplish is to engage their students consistently with each lesson. Inquiry can help with that by putting the teaching and learning tools in the hands of the students. Let them do the research on a topic, bring up facts and viewpoints that interests them with their peers. They will be the teachers as well as the learners during your inquiry lesson.

 

2. Develops their researching skills

Through Inquiry based learning, students will being to practice their researching skills through class. Students will be using research in order to help understand their question, while gaining multiple perspectives that will answer their question. Through this research, it will not only benefit themselves, they will benefit their classmates by reporting the information back to the class. By students having the opportunity to research concepts on their own, they will begin being in charge of their own education and finding the tools that will help them.

 

3. Makes them question what they are told An issue that many people have in today’s life is they are told something and they just accept it as fact without actually researching it to see if what they heard is true or not. The life skill to question what they are told can be reinforced with inquiry lessons as students will be doing the research themselves on a topic and see what is true, what isn’t true, and what some of the common things people say about the subject are. Let’s create a world where people don’t look at things with a blind eye, give our students the skill to question.

 

4. Develops their communication skills

When effective Inquiry is instituted into classrooms, students begin to participate in worthwhile conversations. These conversations help them develop relationships with their peers along with their teachers while gaining different perspectives into concepts. For students who are afraid to voice their opinion in class, now have the opportunity to voice their opinion among peers without being afraid of mentioning the wrong answer. Communication is a key part of Inquiry based learning where students will build ideas while building community.

Institute of Inquiry
Exploratorium

This link takes you to an institution that has based their entire curriculum around inquiry based learning. We feel that it was important to include this because it shows how any school can incorporate inquiry lessons into their curriculum and shows first hands the benefits of it.

 Video of Inquiry

 
This link takes you to a video of a classroom that has based the student's learning around inquiry lessons. This was important to show as an example of how beneficial inquiry can be to the students and their learning.
 

Interview with General Education Teacher

 

Do you feel that Inquiry is an effective tool for teaching?

 I think guided inquiry is important. There needs to be a lot of guidance along with parameters. You need to provide resources for the students to use.

 

Why are you in favor of guided inquiry rather than student led inquiry?

 Topics can be student led, but as students are trying to find answers, teachers need to help them find the scope and keep everything narrowed down. The teacher facilitates the questions but students lead the discussion.

 

Are there certain subjects that work better with Inquiry based teaching than others?

 I think you can use inquiry in any subject. You can use inquiry in almost any classroom as long as the teacher uses important questions that facilitate discussion.

 

Can you give an example of a lesson you’ve done using inquiry? How was the student involvement/interests?

 When we had 6th graders go over the topic of conflict. Students had some prior knowledge of conflict but they took the time to look at their own personal books. A big thing that the students were doing during this lesson was taking the time to look at conflict and figuring out situations they could connect to with conflict.

 

Could you co-create a inquiry lesson between two teachers? (A social studies teacher working with a science teacher to explain the black death plague)

 Of course. For example, last year when I worked with the Social Studies teacher when we looked at explorers in order to see if the exploration was worth the risk. For example, they had to look at hardships they might have experienced. ELA is one of those subjects that can go along with multiple subjects.

 

What are some tips you have for new teachers who want to use Inquiry based learning?

 To let go of the structure that regular lesson plans offer. The biggest fears of new teachers is that they want control over every aspect of the classroom but with inquiry based learning things are going to go all over the place with the discussion. You need to take the time to see how the students are communicating and you need to take the time to be among the students seeing how they are communicating with their peers.

 

Do you see improvement in your students learning when you use inquiry based learning?

 They definitely learn the information better but it is definitely a struggle when it comes it comes to time management. We might spend a lot of time on two to three concepts when we have to have multiple concepts completed. I definitely think taking the time to understand the concepts heavily is where inquiry based learning definitely shines, but it struggles to work when you have to have a lot of information gone over.

 

Resources

https://www.edutopia.org/article/inquiry-based-learning-resources-downloads

This website offers a multitude of different resources, along with multiple videos.

 

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/what-heck-inquiry-based-learning-heather-wolpert-gawron

 

This website talks about what inquiry is in a general sense

 

www.ams.org/journals/notices/201706/rnoti-p570.pdf

 

This article explains what Inquiry is in a math class and how it can be used in mathematic classes.

 

http://ajjuliani.com/research/

 

This article is from the perspective of a teacher. She has gone through a whole interview process discussing with other teachers about how to institute inquiry based learning within classrooms. She also includes within her article stories from other teachers about their success with inquiry based learning.

 

https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/43596/how-to-bring-more-beautiful-questions-back-to-school

This is a pretty cool article because of what the author is trying to get across. She isn’t trying to tell us why we should do inquiry based learning, but she begins telling us how it can be difficult instituting within the classroom. She mentions how students don’t come out of school with questions but they are expected to come out with periods and facts. Finally she does mention some tips to begin asking thought provoking questions with the classroom along with the benefit and how to go about it. I would say that we should definitely have this article within the pyramid

 

https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/42092/10-tips-for-launching-an-inquiry-based-classroom

This article challenges us as teachers to shy away from the content standards and start having a thought provoking question at the beginning of every class. The most interesting suggestion that she gives is to not give a question solely using a word or sentence but to also use a visual for students who are advanced but may be on a learning curve.