Exploring Inquiry in the Classroom

If you are anything like me, adapting to an inquiry approach is often a journey that many of us educators dapple with timidity at first.

This blog post isn't going to explore what inquiry is but how to support providing it in the classroom.

I quite remember my first few weeks and months exploring inquiry which is now three years ago.

I didn't know what to expect from myself or from my students.

I remember wondering...

Will this work?
How will I facilitate students learning?
How do you manage a full class of students while keeping them engaged?
What inquiries do you investigate and which ones get left behind?
How can I justify exploring some topics and not others?
How can we "go deep" when there are so many questions in the classroom?
How do I know what to ask them, probe their interests without overtaking their learning?

Sometimes I felt that I had more questions than answers but I've learned to become comfortable with that.

It took a little while for me to be comfortable with the children leading the learning in the classroom.

When I first started teaching there were certain "themes" that were great for exploring our curriculum at different parts of the school year. My first ECE teaching partner had taught in an inquiry environment for a couple years and she was amazing at reminding me to relax and let the learning just happen - and it does!

One thing that helped me during this process was to post a variety of question prompts in my classroom to help guide my thinking. When my planning time teacher, supply teacher or parent volunteers come in they often reference these questions while engaging with the students in the classroom.

Simple question prompts that guided my thinking included:

I wonder...
How can we...
What are you wondering about that?
Why did you say that?
How do you know?
Why do you think that?

If you want to see the questions I actually posted in my classroom click on the image below.

One of the nice things I have learned about inquiry is that there really is no right or wrong answers. 

I have found that the students really love to guide the learning in the classroom when they are given the freedom to do so!

How do I Include All Students?

This year I plan on being more purposeful for ensuring I capture each student's ideas. 

One way I'm going to be ensuring this is that we will be creating an "I wonder" class book that the students can read throughout the school year. 

I Wonder Book

There will be one or two class books at a time based on the number of students in the classroom. 

The book will go home on the weekend with a student and they can draw a picture and write (or parents scribe) what they want to learn about. 

When they return the book on the following Monday we will have a week to do research about their topic and share the learning with the class!

I am really excited about this opportunity to honor each child's curiosity and am excited to see where our learning will go! If you want to see the booklet we will be using feel free to check it out by clicking on the image below!

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