Clip Retrieved from Svati Patangay. License: Standard YouTube License. Copyright Creative Commons 2.0
To begin any type of re-search journey that is unfamiliar, you need to put your head down and bottom up and start from the beginning! One of the first yoga poses you begin with in a class is the Downward Dog. If you stretch before exercise it decreases the risk of injury and enhances your workout experience. This can be said for my inquiry journey - if I stretch and start from the beginning, I should have a smooth and successful journey through the stages of inquiry re-search.
What is my understanding of Inquiry Learning?
The best place to begin my Initial Post is to inform you of what I understand and believe Inquiry Learning to be. The only contact I have had with inquiry learning is during my 4th Year University Practicum at Canberra Girls Grammar School, an International Baccalaureate (Primary Years Program) School in Grade 3. I do believe I have been teaching in an inquiry manner as I am always probing children to think deeper by asking more and more questions once they have found answers and forever asking them 'How did you come up with that answer? What more do you want to know, What questions do you now have? Please see the above video for an explanation of the inquiry teaching program, PYP.
Inquiry learning to me, is a process in which through questioning and researching, we learn new knowledge and fundamental skills which we will all use throughout life - an independence of thought. By learning through inquiry it gives children and adults the ability to find things out for themselves and not just given the answer by a teacher or textbook. Inquiry learning enables us to investigate concepts and topics rather than be robots and sponges that just deliver a one sentence answer. If we do not inquire, how do we really know the deep meaning of things? Sure we know that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, but ....... How? Did they have patents back then? What is a patent? If we wanted to invent something how would we go about it? How do you sell a product? Lets create our own inventions and go through correct process and motions!
I believe when you learn through inquiry you are learning a set of principles that will enhance the ability to function successfully in the world and understand and explore our lives from a more universal approach, essentially become problem solvers in life by gaining knowledge from a community of learners.
Being involved in a PYP Inquiry IB school, I was lucky enough to observe and teach Grade 3 students. The most wonderful observation I made about inquiry learning was the amount of questions the children had after each lesson which, through a flexible mode of teaching, guided the next lessons. Through a more traditional approach of teaching, there would be no 'time' or flexibility to be able to answer all the students questions and give them time to do their own re-search. See below for a range of children's views of how they lean better through a program such as the IB (PYP) inquiry curriculum.
What do I want to know: My 3 Central Re-search Questions
First things First - Why am I using the word re-search and not research?
When I first embarked on this Unit, I was rather confused with the spelling re-search as I have only ever seen it spelt 'research'. Mandy Lupton's article 'Inquiry Learning: A pedagogical and curriculum framework for information literacy' really helped me to understand the difference between the two terms. The first meaning of re-search refers to searching for codified information that already exists and the second meaning, research, refers to creating new information. Creating new information entails 'proposing theoretical/conceptual advances, analysing data and/or interrogating primary and secondary sources' (Meyer, Shanahan, & Laugksch, 2005).
After refreshing my brain about what Inquiry Learning is and trying to get my mind back into 'Inquiry Mode', three main questions have come to mind. If I was a student in my classroom, I would put forward these three questions to be included on the class 'Wonder Wall'. Often in my classroom when I find out from the students what they already know and want to know (KWL Chart) - I then get the students to map their thinking. At our school we are big with 'Making Thinking Visible' and 'Thinking Skills' which includes many mind maps. Below you will find my three main questions, plus a mind map of my more in-depth thinking patterns of the topic.
As a classroom teacher (soon to be an IT teacher) I struggle to teach Maths Integrated with IT in an inquiry learning manner. How can I improve my inquiry teaching in my Maths lessons and make the students think deeper about concepts? I also worry about student self-efficacy, especially Mathematics.
What does a good inquiry Maths and IT lesson look like and how do we promote students self-efficacy in these departments?
1. What is the best way to start implementing a new teaching approach, such as inquiry learning, into a school that already has a rigid view of classroom teaching strategies, paid programs and educators who are not interested in learning a new way of teaching?
How do you implement the inquiry approach into a school that teaches a different way?
2. Most of the feedback and teacher discussions about Inquiry Learning is positive and from an outside perspective it seemed like a fabulous way to teach; however, - I am thinking - Have there been any studies done to prove it is more beneficial to teach students in this way?
What evidence is there to support that Inquiry Learning produces the best learning outcomes for students?
Mind map created by Author. Made through Bubbl.us
Miss Megan Elizabeth
Australian living in Johannesburg, Primary School Teacher, IT Teacher, World traveller
Yoga header image used with permission : (c) http://thirtyeightdegreesnorth.com/fitness-holidays-ibiza/body-reset-ibiza/
The Yogi of Inquiry Learning and Re-search
Yoga Pose: Downward Facing Dog