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What is Inquiry Pedagogy?


In the model of open-inquiry, let me pose the following questions to you:

  • What does inquiry mean to you?
  • How have you or how would you like to use inquiry-based education in your classroom?
  • What other classroom issues, stratagies or pedogogy are you interested in?




Some other thoughts on inquiry in science and beyond.

Portal webpage on Inquiry-Based Education  Key Components of Inquiry Instruction







Stephen Cooney's picture

inquiry today

Posted here, separate from a direct reply to my earlier thoughts on Inquiry, as well as a direct response below.

Right now it feels like the top of my head has blown off!!! 

For the last 50 years I would have sworn that 2+2=4, that it was an absolute TRUTH.  Now, thanks to Paul's loops and my appreciation of his redefinition of the scientific method as a summary of observations, I have to allow for the possibility of a true observation that 2+2 may not equal 4.  I've seen the false 'proofs' that 1+1=0 and will look beyond them and the charlatans that put them forth, but lurking in the future is the real possibility that 2+2 may equal something other than what I know as 4.  OMG!!

Bharath is right, an infinite story model will not work, my metaphor about the sailboat allows for lots of stories, but with a specific goal in mind and a skipper at the helm, reaching that goal with the help of his crew, the tacks to starboard balanced with the tacks to port, the mast leaning to the right balanced with the mast leaning to the left, the bow riding high over the crest of a wave balanced with the bow diving towards a trough.


GShoshana's picture

What does inquiry mean

  • What does inquiry mean to you?
  • Inquiry means different ways of teaching and learning with the goal of developing the thinking of the student.  The teacher needs to match their teaching style to the needs of each student.  It is also important to increase the students motivation to learn and explore so that they can become an independent thinker and learner.


  • How have you or how would you like to use inquiry-based education in your classroom?
  • I will pay more attention to my lesson plans so that I make it more effective and interesting to the students.  I hope to start by asking questions, then have students explore them through inquiry, and also to end with project in the classroom to show that they have an understanding of the material.   This will be done in in the classroom to help them be more independent with homework at home.  It is important to pay more attention to developing the thinking of the students and to give them more support to their specific needs.


  • What other classroom issues, stratagies or pedogogy are you interested in?
  • Because I am teaching a second langugage, I find that students often have problems with memory.  How can I help them with memorizing and retaining information, and concentrating. I also hope to learn more about helping students with phonetic reading, organizational skills, and responsibilities with homework. I am preparing them for middle school, so it is important that they leave with these specific skills.
Brie Stark's picture

Inquiry - Take two

The biggest thing, I've realized, is that inquiry is subjective: both in the mind of teacher and in the mind of the student.  Inquiry has an entirely different meaning to the teacher because the teacher has a pre-developed idea that they would like to explore.  The student, instead, does not have this pre-developed thought process and instead is focused on the discovery of ideas that interest them on a personal level.  Inquiry, then, must be realized from both points of view: that there is an overarching principle set by the teacher, but that the exploratory process is the subjective process utilized by the student.  Therefore, I believe these two concepts hybridize together to form the basis that I consider 'inquiry.'

Diedre Bennett's picture

At the end of two weeks, my

At the end of two weeks, my definition of what inquiry is hasn't changed much.  If nothing else I can now view inquiry as having stages, the one most frequently used being guided inquiry.  It is only through personal understanding, personal experiences and curiousity that people learn or it "really sticks".  I think we keep trying to define what iquiry is and where it should take place.  Let's applaud the fact that regardless of rather or not "inquiry" is taking place in a classroom (to learn information someone else has deemed important and not always relevant to you)it is occurring in the most natural and unpredictable setting " the real world".

Think of all of the important lessons you learned away from school.  All the "hands on" experiences you had that helped shape you.  Hands on lessons including learning proper social skills, interacting with the opposite sex and so on.  Questioning the knowledge of your peers, parents, teachers and every other adult you crossed paths with.  It has been thru these experiences that you have learned, grown and made sense of the world around you. 

Cheer up people our kids are learning everyday thru inquiry!!!!!



Syreeta Bennett's picture

My final thoughts on Inquiry

My inital thoughts about Inquiry is that inquiry as seen in my classroom is more guided and I still hold this belief.  The article by Bharath Vallabha confirmed my belief that between the sprectrums of  the one story model and the infinite stories there is a balance story. As I look back on the investigations we done these past two weeks they all found this balance for me.  It was necessary to give me the background stories but I was allowed and encouraged to write my own story.

Diane Balanovich's picture


I think that inquiry is allowing students to develop questions and experiments to test hypothesis that they have about a subject.  Students use thier talents to develop solutions to the problems that they have created for themselves. However, I believe the teacher always has the end goal in mind. I was thinking about my grant and how excited I was that I had developed this open inquiry about creating an urban garden, but what really sticks with me is Moira's statement "bait and switch". Even though I am giving my students the opportunity to develop thier own ideas about environment and testing environmental factors. I have already thought about what experiments that I will guide them to. Is this wrong? At the primary level, I think its more about empowering the students with the desire to inquire.

Janet Scannell's picture

inquiry as distinctive as perfume!

It seems to me that the inquiry approach is going to take shape in different ways for different facilitators/teachers based on their personality, their own learning experiences and the way they process information.  Those differences can manifest in learning style preferences, Myers Briggs indexes and questionnaires on Facebook!  Bottomline, we are all different.  So maybe we can think of it like perfume. Any given fragrance smells different on different people.  As we take our ideas of inquiry from here we each leave a different aroma in our trail.  And they are all wonderful.

Geneva Tolliferreo's picture

7/20 AM: What is Inquiry Pedagogy?

  • What does inquiry mean to you?  Asking the questions that envoke more questions, by the students as they seek answers; with the safety net that our objective is to get it more right and less not right.
  • How have you or how would you like to use inquiry-based education in your classroom?  75% of success with adults and children is by allowing them to discover the 'next steps' questions.  I simply prompt, 'what is the next step', consistantly.
  • What other classroom issues, stratagies or pedogogy are you interested in?  The most important component for me is to provide professional development empowering everyone to be on the same page, as we progress not necessarly knowing the next steps, yet realizing there are next steps...brainstorm with a goal in mind.
Geneva Tolliferreo's picture

7/31 AM Inquiry Reflections

Realizing there is no specific link for these comments, that they are to be posted as a 'reply' to the initial comment is a relief.  I had gotten in the habit of posting A.M. and P.M. comments via a designated link for the previous two weeks, and with this session I had to adapt most sessions, in frustration, due to the absence of that 'structure'.

I stand by my original story regarding Inquiry, realizing and learning other aspects as I have progressed through this session.  I appreciate Steve's working definition of Metacogntion, 'Thinking about Thinking'.

I am relieved for Will that he allowed his doors opened affording him to realize that Inquiry is guided, structured if you will. As vunerable as he strived for us to be, I am glad he allowed himself to be the same.  His catharsis is refreshing for him, and again a relief for teachers everywhere...who strive to bring needed structured to their class and students.

Structure has a reason and a purpose.  Neither of which is to inhibit, but to keep on track as we inquire, explore, ask, realize, learn, and keep the progess progressive.

Judith Lucas-Odom's picture

What Inquiry means to me!

What inquiry means to me is that it is open and it has no answers that is easily found in a textbook.  It is engaging.  Inquiry is fun and it is elastic because sometimes you can bounce back to were you started from and other times you can stretch it to the limits!  My students do well after the initial period of where is the test? phase; especially my special needs students, they find more success with inquiry.  They become in some instances the leaders.  They realize that their input counts and they get approval from the others in their group.

Key components: role model how to be an inquirer; give successful moments; make sure the students know what is expected(rubrics); follow through with ideas;role model, I repeat role model everything!

Judith Lucas-Odom's picture

What Inquiry means to me! Last Day Thoughts

What I think about inquiry has not changed from day one it has just gone to the next dimension.  Inquiry,"comfort zone" is wherever you decide it should be!  We need to establish a comfort zone in ourselves first so that we can pass it on to our students and no matter were we start, guided, structured, or open we should not feel that it is not inquiry.  Inquiry is a journey to learn and explore new ideas, thoughts, and to discover things about ourselves and others and to put them into a perspective that we may or may not grow from!  Inquiry is only the vehicle that we use.  It should be an engaging and fun ride if it is not then it is time to get out of the car and take a look at the scenary around us or we can just change the vehicle!

Stephanie Dubin's picture


Posted by Rachel and Stephanie:

We would like for our students to learn how to question and carry out conversations with each other to better understand concepts. It would be ideal for students to formulate conversations and teachers just act as a facilitator.

One example of using inquiry in the classroom is using a strategy of pens in the middle for students to take turns communicating attitudes about ideas while the teacher monitors the conversations.

How do teachers get students to form ideas about concepts they do not have prior knowledge on, and how can you motive them? (Keep in mind lack of supplies and large class sizes)



Rachel Roberts's picture

Re: New Definition of Inquiry

I now believe that Inquiry is still thinking about what you are thinking, but it now includes listening. I feel that you have to listen to others during inquiry...this will help trigger further thoughts for you as well as others. You are trying to understand what is going on overall. As a teacher, I really just want to trigger questions for thoughts for my students to get them to become explorers during science. Question their questions! That's what I have learned from this institute.

Edward Bujak's picture

I believe inquiry learning

I believe inquiry learning is the acqusition, synthesis, and internalization of knowledge through a user directed discovery process.  I guess it is a form of Just-In-Time (JIT) learning ... so the learning is relevant and also personal.

Inquiry is great but I believe it must be directed and guided to better utilize the minimal time I have with students.  I love open-ended guiding questions since they focus the students on our goals.

I have quarterly (or marking period) math projects that require the student to do scholarly research, explore new personal intersts,  and present their results to the class, in a way they want (PPT, poster, essay, poem, rap, paper, song).

As a teacher, I try to bring real-world experiences and applications when I introduce topics.  I hope that students get excited about particular topics and take this to the next level.  I always make time for students outside of class to help.  I personally model what I expect from students.

Syreeta Bennett's picture

My thoughts on Inquiry

What is Inquiry to me? Inquiry is allowing my students to come up with questions and developing investigations to answer their  own questions. In my classroom I have to follow the core curriculum. There are topics that I have to cover for School District benchmark so I do more guided inquiry in my classroom. Many times I set up the investigations and there are guidelines they have to follow but I give them reign to adjust investigations and to further explore. For every unit, I let the kids through journals and classroom discussions to gerenrate questions. I make time for students to answer these questions through various mediums. At these times I am there for assistance and not as the driver. Teaching through inquiry is challenging it requires strong classroom management, patience, planning and money. However, it is rewarding to see growth and the desire to learn that you don't always see through traditional methods of learning.

RecycleJack Marine's picture

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Learning through inquiry is allowing students to discover things by themselves. Give students a set of materials and basic guidelines for safety and group requirements and let them spring in to active learning!

I have used inquiry based learning by using science kits that, although formatted, allow students to explore objects on their own. Students are not graded on specific summative assessments, but rather on the ways in which they work cooperatively and complete minimal task requirements.

I am really interested in how to use a middle school science curriculum to foster hands on inquiry science lessons.


RecycleJack Marine's picture

Now Inquiry has more meaning

As I reflect on what we discussed in the past few weeks I think that inquiry has taken on a different twist. Especially I thought I was using inquiry based instruction for the past seven years, while I have taught science in elementary grades. But maybe it wasn't inquiry at all, maybe it was just teaching off the cuff, or taking what was written and giving it to students one way so they spit it back at you. Do they really think about what they are doing, or are they just following directions? (although at my school, many did not follow any directions)

No, I don't think I was using inquiry in the past several years. I followed a teacher guide and students completed scripted lessons. I think now that I have discovered this, and now that I understand what guided inquiry really means, maybe I can use some of this understanding in my next teaching job.

In order to facilitate inquiry based instruction, you have to start with a concept or an object, and ask students what they can say or think about it. That's the beginning, then when you have established some connection to that concept or object, then they can start an exploration either in discussion or in writing. When you've given enough time for a group or individual reflection, then they can begin a hands-on exploration via some materials or response sheets. That's what I think an Inquiry Process is.


Jill Bean's picture

My thoughts on Inquiry


  • starting with questions
  • growing from student interests
  • students actively engaging with materials and each other
  • making and sharing observations
  • story telling --> articulating and defending stories
  • more experiences with materials and each other
  • more observations
  • new, "less wrong" stories
  • looping on and on

The inquiry process does not expect one outcome, multiple outcomes are expected and encouraged.  Multiple outcomes can lead to more opportunities for dissonance and then more learning as well.  Inquiry is more focused on the process.

I use inquiry extensively in my "themes", integrated curricular units of study.

Jill Bean's picture

Revised thoughts on inquiry

I still agree with my initial thoughts on the model of inquiry. 

What has changed in my understanding, is that I now think that I can use this model as the way to structure an overall investigation into a broad topic, while having a variety of activities within this broad structure.  Ever since my school made a decision to teach through inquiry, I have felt some guilt because I didn't feel that I was really truly teaching through "True Inquiry", but was using it only sporatically or using an approximation of inquiry.  I now feel like I'm actually doing a fairly good job, and feel more comfortable with my practice.  I now think it is fine, good, and efficient to use guided and directed experiences within a larger inquiry in order to provide the class with a variety of experiences, information, and understanding. 

There are things that I will rethink and revise.  I can think of a bunch of activities that I traditionally do with my class that I can open up and tweak to make more inquiry like and empower the students.  I've thought a lot about how to help the kids get more out of field trips, but changing the field trip to be an inquiry activity. 

I've also realized how important establishing a safe community of learners and explorers is for a successful inquiry experience. 

Janet Scannell's picture

verolga, steve and janet's discussion

We talked about various inquiry-based approaches that Steve uses in his physics classes.  He never gives a direct answer to a question but rather guides the students to ask questions and to answer their own questions. 

We feel that inquiry learning is very reflective and opens a new box as the students are asked questions in response to their questions. 

We also talked about how inquiry learning is the furthest exploration of discovery learning. We talked about various ways to use music and personal creativity, which are great but can be just more creative ways of delivering info and having students send info back. Inquiry learning takes it even further in having the students identify the areas of study based on their questions.

Verolga Nix-Allen's picture


Honestly, I had no preconceived ideas about Inquiry.  Before taking this session I did ask myself "Inquiry  about what, who, where and why?  (smile)

After talking with Steve and Janet and it became clearer. 

Now I begin to reflect on how I would use this technique in what I do as to prepare soloists, choir and taking it to another level and correllate nutrition with singing and the voice.

Thank you for opening other boxes as to what I will be doing to give new understanding development to my musical gift.

Janet Scannell's picture

the social dynamics

What's changed most for me is a recognition of the social dynamics of fostering inquiry.  I had been thinking of it as fostering self-discovery for individuals. But I'm really taken by this idea of the tension of different points of view and how those resonances stimulate each individual's learning.  And I really like the idea of "truth" as a story that changes as new information challenges those "truths" and that a teacher who fosters learning will help her students be comfortable with that unsettled feeling of have fewer certainties.

Moira Messick's picture


An open-inquiry classroom encourages students to pose questions and investigate the answers.  Effective strategies include cooperative learning and the use of rubrics to outline salient content.  A good example from my class is the "Communiqu Expose," a six week science fair held in June every year.  Students use open inquiry coupled with the scientific method to learn more about a topic in biology that interests them.  It is a perfect culminating activity for the year.

Moira Messick's picture

Not so Final Thoughts..

When asked to review my initial thoughts, I thought "uh-oh what did I type?"  I was pleased to see that I still agree with my initial analysis as a great springboard for inquiry.  I suppose I just want to add that it is accepatable to begin with my own "story" / question that will inspire students while adding the students' "stories"to develp a group "story."  These stories will change with the dynamics of each class from year to year.

Deborah Hazen's picture

Thoughts on Inquiry

  • What does inquiry mean to you?

Inquiry is asking questions--it is a structured process in that it is bounded by a unifying theme, it is an expansive process in that it encourages interdisciplinary exploration. It is pursuing topics that students are interested in as a way of teaching approaches to thinking, basic skills and content, and hopefully arriving at new ideas. Inquiry is both transactional and reflective. Inquiry gives students and teachers the opportunity to learn together and arrive at new questions together. Inquiry is education as social dialogue.

  • How have you or how would you like to use inquiry-based education in your classroom?

We use inquiry (as I've defined it) most effectively in science and social studies. Thematic units are held together by overarching questions, I share information and activities to extend student background knowledge and model inquiry, students then choose a focus that they explore and share with their classmates--after student topics/directions are chosen, I fill in areas that I believe are important through mini-lessons. We don't use textbooks, rather we make every attempt to engage with material/situations/problems to generate understanding and new questions.

I'm interested in extending the inquiry model to math and language arts.

Deborah Hazen's picture

Definition hasn't changed but something has shifted

My core definition of inquiry is not different.

Something has shifted though---in our classroom, kids are so excited about inquiry (the way we define it)--they love the process and the transactional nature of inquiry. They feed off of each others energy, ideas and questions.

It isn't necessarily the same when adults come together...I believe that my best teaching will come from taking time out of the classroom and bumping up against other ideas/experiences/approaches and believe that the inquiry format can be a useful tool. I'm leaving the institute thinking about how this process works with adults.

Jill Bean's picture

teaching skills through inquiry or explicit means

I am struggling to balance the move our school has made towards explicitly teaching basic skills and the use of inquiry to learn those basic skills (applying inquiry to other content areas...). 

I think the example I gave in Brain and Behavior still applies.  The vast majority of children will not learn to read and write by simply interacting with letters, sounds, texts, and paper and pencil.  There is a small minority of children who do learn to read on their own, but most children need explicit instruction in decoding, blending, chunking, etc in order to construct understanding of the abstract symbols that are combined to form texts.  Perhaps time is the problem.  Are there people arguing that children could construct their own knowledge through an inquiry process if given more time? 

I think that inquiry can be used powerfully throughout all the subject matters, but I do think that there are some basic skills that need to be taught through direct and explicit instruction.  

Edward Bujak's picture

new skills sometimes require prerequisite skills or knowledge



I will offer up the idea of how we learn to speak (and other linguisitic skills).  It is by being immersed in an environment that fosters it!  Our parents constantly modeled it for us and we heard it all around us.  We tried it and got better at it.  We realized a cause and effect.  We cried and we got attention.  We asked for a bottle or motioned for it and we got it. etc.

I do agreed with your question that some things are just too time consuming or impossible to  do with inquiry-based methods ... like basic numeracy skills or maybe even meauring/calculating the atomic weight of Mercury (not practical and extremely hazardous).  Other things we know or want to learn are just too expensive to learn experientially.  Try personal inquiry learning on extended periods of weightlessness.  Well we read about them.

Dalia Gorham's picture

Inquiry-based Instruction

Inuiry means... questioning, learning, experimenting, searching, filling curiousity, challenging your thought process

I would like to use inquiry-based instruction in my classroom through projects. I would like for students to be able to research and experiment based on a question they have or something they would enjoy learning about in science.

I am interested in the  continued use of incorporating several multiple intelligences into each lesson so all students can meet success, I believe inqiry- based learning will offer me another helpful strategy to be able to do so.

Dalia Gorham's picture

At times during the

At times during the institute I became very confused about what true inquiry was.  Through many lessons and the reading, I discovered that inquiry happens on many different levels.  Guided inquiry is still inquiry, we are still allowing students to explore and find their own ways of doing things.  I also learned the importance of "play" which is inquiry. Inquiry needs to be techer-led to some degree. When there is structure and inquiry we have "The Balance of Stories Model".

joycetheriot's picture

Inquiry Spring

Working with springs is a treat for my students. They compress them and watch the results. Without energy applied, there is not much to see and as a result, it's not very engaging for students. My reaction to Wil's metaphor of a spring is that you need to put energy into the inquiry system otherwise nothing happens. The energy input can also be directed to other places on the spring and new results can be observed. In this sense, I like this metaphor for inquiry.

Diedre Bennett's picture

Inquiry means  analyzing,

Inquiry means  analyzing, questioning and making sense.  Our children learn everyday through inquiry. In their everyday lives they make decisions and draw conclusions based on the analysis of a situation.  This learning must translate to the classroom where I believe the students view as a sterile setting and one of easy predictability or a place where the answer should always be given not thought of.

Deborah Hazen's picture

Resonates for me

I think that school can get in the way...especially when school is the place you go to get and replicate the answers.

So, Wil asks what we're doing here if inquiry is a natural process. Deprogramming someone in the room responds---sounds about right.

Edward Bujak's picture

School is the Black Hole for NATURAL inquisitiveness

Most schools do suck the innate inquisitiveness that most students have from the day they are born. 

Where does it go?

By high school, most students do not even want to bother to ask questions about how/why/who/when/where/what about the material they are “learning.”  Most have lost the ability to formulate/synthesize deep meaningful constructs from previous knowledge/data and new concepts.  The good thing is that this wonder of self-learning can be retaught, but it is a BIG task!

Brie Stark's picture

I would argue that it's not

I would argue that it's not necessarily school that drives it from people, but also family life.  From a personal standpoint, I never really lost that inquiry-mode; however, my parents basically ran my whole life with inquiry-based learning, I've soon come to realize.  Constant choices, constant discussions, constant development.  I wonder, then, on what personal level teachers can connect to foster a hidden inquistiveness.

Edward Bujak's picture

So why do most students loose that natural sense of inquiry?



You are SOOOO right.  You mentioned your family life encouraged inquisitiveness.  Family and having an "interested" person nearby motivating a student through education is THE prime factor for success in ALL levels of schooling.  It's not whether your parent(s) or legal guardians are nobel laureates or leaders in their fields or even college graduates.  It's not whether you are rich or poor.  It's not about having an expert nearby helping you with your homework everyday, but it is about someone caring that you do your homework. It's about having a person nearby constantly pushing you and showing interest. 

Like a few of us said on our first day in class ... it's about educating the family!  There is a lot more there than meets the eye!  Studies continually show that involved parent(s) foster good students (and caring citizens) and not just on the academic front.

Most schools downplay inquisitiveness.  It does not fit their teaching pedagogy.  Having 30 students constantly asking why/how/who/where/when/what-type questions does not fit the current mode of most teaching environments where conformity is the mode.  Imagine if any branch of the military had a bunch of enlistees who contantly questioned ... nothing would get done.  You do what you are told.

That being said, I have 4 children, and they all are inquistive, but I believe we fostered and encouraged their natural abilities.  From a very early age we read books to them.  They all play the piano and another instrument.  They all have multiple years of a foreign language (at least 5 years by the time each graduates high school).  Thy all love to read (anything).  They go to summer camps for very diverse topics (science, engineering, math, art, politics, military, computers, nanotechnology). 

Parents are THE key!!!

Corollary: Unfortunatley the schools have been made the parents of the children.

Deborah Hazen's picture

Hidden inquisitiveness

Is it really hidden? If, as we talked about in BBI, the brain is constantly making sense of the world--filtering inputs, ignoring inputs, crafting stories, figuring out what needs figuring out to negotiate each day----a natural inquirer---then is the inquisitiveness really captive or hidden because of what parents or schools "do" or "don't do?" Maybe there is a less wrong way of looking at this. We heard from at least one participant yesterday that his students are not interested or equipped to ask questions and be inquirers. But those same students were described as pre-adjudicated youth. So, I'm thinking that they got to be pre-adjudicated youth (I used to work with kids in a pilot program to keep them from becoming adjudicated many moons ago.) by being very creative about their approach/response to the raw material of their world. Maybe they are employing inquiry to be successful as defined by their current perception of that state...they are still being natural inquirers of that which interests them or that they need to be interested in to "make it." 

This story gives us a different set of questions right? It is no longer how do we foster hidden inquisitiveness, it becomes how do we get kids to apply their inqusitiveness to what we want them to be interested in?

In my own classroom---parents will tell me all the time that if their child isn't interested in the topic they will just ignore it--the learning goes in one ear and out the other and they see no curiosity or energy----parents frequently say that they hope that 5th or 6th grade will be the grade in which their child starts paying attention, even if they don't like the subject. Well what do you do when you aren't interested in a subject? Does that mean that the "inquiry-mode" has been driven from you?

Kathy Swahn's picture

inquiry pedagogy

  • What does inquiry mean to you?

Allowing students to think, discover and therefore learn own his own. This thinking does not mean without guidance however!

  • How have you or how would you like to use inquiry-based education in your classroom?

Labs are an important part of science education, exploration is an important part of learning, labs allow exploration.

  • What other classroom issues, strategies or pedagogy are you interested in?

Encouraging emergent learning, allowing students to grow on their own.



Brie Stark's picture

After hearing many

After hearing many introductions this morning (especially about the possible hardships in school districts), I thought, in honor of Apollo 11's epic voyage 40 years ago, this quote was especially applicable to our institute:

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." -John F. Kennedy

On a further note, I think that inquiry means several things.  When I first think inquiry, the first words that come to mind are 'research,' 'exploring through hands-on activities,' and 'questioning knowledge.'  I think that it's very hard to have an inquiry-based curriculum because inquiry doesn't seem concrete to most school officials and therefore it's hard to get a 'lesson plan' or 'schedule' that one will follow religiously (which is usually encouraged by administration).  Emily feels like it is easier to do inquiry-based learning with science than for other subjects, mostly because science relies on experimentation that is more hands-on and can exhibit research.  I personally think that this is true in many cases, but also that subjects like english and history encourage discussion, which is a big basis of inquiry-based learning: it is necessary for many viewpoints to converge and 'hybridize' thoughts (not compromise!) and this occurs in many settings in education.

joycetheriot's picture

Inquiry is across many Domains

I agree with you Brie, that inquiry is about allowing learners to shape their own understandings, create meaning and then test that against those of others. Without time, opportunity and a conucive environment; this is difficult to achieve.

Stephen Cooney's picture

on lesson plans...

 I despise lesson plans (did not want to use the word 'hate', though it applies!!)  Thankfully my school does not require them.  I started out making plans and by late Tue or early Wed the week's plan was shot, for one reason or another.  The metaphor that comes to mind is the skipper of a sailboat, I want to go from point A to point B and in that trip the wind shifts constantly causing tacks into and with the wind, so I get to B but the path is different each day and even in each class doing the same material. Inquiry is another shift in the wind's direction blowing to different compass points and in different forces from each student and in that, constantly changing the direction of the boat.

Stephen Cooney's picture

inquiry today

Right now it feels like the top of my head has blown off!!! 

For the last 50 years I would have sworn that 2+2=4, that it was an absolute TRUTH.  Now, thanks to Paul's loops and my appreciation of his redefinition of the scientific method as a summary of observations, I have to allow for the possibility of a true observation that 2+2 may not equal 4.  I've seen the false 'proofs' that 1+1=0 and will look beyond them and the charlatans that put them forth, but lurking in the future is the real possibility that 2+2 may equal something other than what I know as 4.  OMG!!

Bharath is right, an infinite story model will not work, my metaphor about the sailboat allows for lots of stories, but with a specific goal in mind and a skipper at the helm, reaching that goal with the help of his crew, the tacks to starboard balanced with the tacks to port, the mast leaning to the right balanced with the mast leaning to the left, the bow riding high over the crest of a wave balanced with the bow diving towards a trough.

Jill Bean's picture

lesson plans continued

Stephan, I completely agree with your boat metaphor.  I regularly find myself in that situation: the class either moves much faster or much slower than I expect them too, causing me to constantly redo my plans. 

However, I still find value in lesson planning.  Gathering my thoughts, writing down the key questions, and accounting for the intricate details of activities, help me to reflect and think carefully about my practice.  I don't do formal lesson plans often, but I do find them to be a concrete way to be explicit about my intentions. 

Geneva Tolliferreo's picture

Professional Metaphors

All students have the ability to learn.  As their teacher it is my responsibility to tap into the ways that enable each one to do so to the best of their unlock and open their boxes and doors, if you will.

As I 'feed' them, it is more important for me to teach them how to fish; enabling them to eat independent of having to wait for someone to feed them.  God bless the child that has their own.


Geneva Tolliferreo's picture

7/20 AM Observations

Good Morning...

As I begin, this my second institute this Summer, I am excited to continue building upon the work I have begun on what began as my Twiki page in 1997.  Now known as my 'blog' or webpage, I am sharing my professional interest in how and why the brain rests.  Where previously I wanted to know how the brain rests, in this session my inquiries will be more 'why' focused.

A career educator, now providing support for working adults, rest is an essential component of what they need but do not get enough of.  As a listening therapist, this is an aspect of all our lives which often gets little attention.  My position is to educate them as to why this important to their survival and how it may be accomplished amidst their all to busy schedule...

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