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Building a Culture of Inquiry
Transcript of Building a Culture of Inquiry
Ramsey Musallam's TedTalk on "Curiosity comes first" states that:
To promote inquiry, TL's must value student questions and curiousity. Modeling open-ended questions, proposing alternate 'what if' scenarios, and creating open-ended learning activities can enable students to
evoke real questions. Student curiousity should "transcend technology" teaching and learning. Providing opportunities
for students to practice reflection (feedback loop)
informs follow-up questions and makes
What do you think some of the opportunities and challenges would be in focusing on a specific inquiry model?
Focusing on a specific Inquiry Model enables opportunities for students to further their understanding of the world. Learning to ask questions, collaborating, developing literacy and critical thinking skills allows students to make meaning and achieve success in the 21st century.
Teacher attitude can greatly influence the success of building
a culture of Inquiry Learning. Presented in Diana Laufenberg's
TedTalk and Tina Barseghian's Mindshift article, there are many strategies to promote Inquiry culture in the classroom. The strategies include:
to allow students the time to explore their own interests, guiding and
inquiry process through meaningful and relevant questions to enable self-directed learning, encourage a
learning environment through many literacy types, invest in
, not curriculum expectations, provide multiple and various
different stages of learning, plan dynamic and
How would you introduce this inquiry model to other staff members?
To foster partnerships and collaboration in Inquiry learning, TLs can sharing specific information, strategies, lesson plans, guidance, and resources for the 4 Phases of Inquiry with other teachers. It would be helpful for TLs to model examples of the the types of guiding and open-ended questions used for each phase.
How does Inquiry learning fit with Ministry and local school/district goals?
The learning expectations in the Ontario Curriculum are achieved through inquiry based practice. For example, the Science and Technology Curriculum, states that one of the overall expectations is "to develop the skills, strategies, and habits of mind required for scientific inquiry and technological problem solving". The two major components of scientific inquiry are experimentation and research. Assessment is also based on how student use critical and creative thinking skills and inquiry and problem-solving skills and/or processes. To develop the skills of inquiry and research, students should learn how to ask "good questions to frame their research, interpret information, and detect bias."
Culture of Inquiry
The benefits of implementing discovery and guided inquiry model in school culture are:
increase of student perspectives and flexibility of ideas
connections between teaching and real-life situations
collaboration between community, parents, students, and teacher
engagement and motivation of the learner through personal interests
development of critical thinking, reflection, and
provides tools and strategies for students to achieve success
promotes diverse resources, information, and technology
facilitates differentiated instruction
Ideas on how you could build a culture of inquiry
Opportunities & Challenges
Question(s) and/or the process of asking, intended to get information or the truth.
The Toronto District School Board integrated Inquiry Learning since provides information, links and resources through their website. The Inquiry and Research Process, presented through OSLA's 1998 Information Studies: Kindergarten - Grade 12 information document is part of TDSB's virtual library.
Focus on the Inquiry Process
A complex process of constructing personal meaning, applying critical thinking skills, solving problems, creating understanding, and questioning.
-Together For Learning, OLA
Besides the Ontario Curriculum Documents, the Ontario Ministry has published "Getting Started with Student Inquiry" in the Capacity Building Series monographs. The issue, created by Ontario Student Achievement Division, provides strategies for teachers in promoting inquiry-based learning.
Curriculum is based on learning, understanding, creating, and making connections to the world. Inquiry learning is a crucial factor to assist students in formulating authentic meaning. Without the inquiry process, no critical questions and reflections can emerge to further thinking.
The importance of Inquiry Learning also connects with the Language Curriculum. The document emphasizes that "students need numerous opportunities" to listen, talk, engage, brainstorm, discuss, solve problems, present, debate, critique, "clarify their thinking, express their thoughts and feelings, organize their ideas", view, relate to, and analyze, a range of "subjects, purposes, and media texts, including personal interests, school work, and current affairs" to develop oral communication, reading, writing, and media literacy skills. Opportunities for students to explore a wide variety of information and to make meaningful connections is derived from questions.
4 Phases of the Inquiry Process
Inquiry learning, (the process in which students make meaning), is a fundamental aspect of enabling "all students to reach high levels of achievement and to acquire the knowledge, skills, and values they need to become responsible members of a democratic society." (TDSB Mission Statement)
Benefits of Inquiry Learning
"The Learning Commons liberates the exploration of ideas and concepts, encouraging inquiry, imagination, discovery and creativity through the connection of learners to information, to each other and to communities around the world."
- Together for learning, pg. 6
To introduce inquiry practice, I would explain and show the benefits in student and teacher learning through anecdotes, studies and resources. Relating the inquiry model to the learning commons creates a cohesive vision of teacher practice.
TLs can propose the Inquiry model through a cross-curricular approach. Teachers can brainstorm and discuss which projects and activities could utilize Inquiry Learning. Weekly PLC meetings, based on grades and student needs, can create an environment where teachers can share their challenges, success, and questions. The TL can also create a dialogue to promote and teach technology tools that will assist in Inquiry Learning.
Sharing relevant and engaging resources can provide teachers will the support needed to integrate inquiry learning in their classroom. Equitable access to technology, online resources, and the physical library collection will enable all teachers to determine their Inquiry Model approach.
Access to Resources
From David Warlick's "2 cents article" he posts:
We need to shift from a focus on ’Engagement’ to focusing on ‘Empowerment
"Effective application of an inquiry model can transform novice learners into interdependent and independent learners, confident of their information power."
TL's can provide an inclusive environment where students are accountable for their own learning.
The acronym for fail;
will allow experimentation with a positive attitude.
Ontario Curriculum Documents Grade 1-8
Science & Technology
By guiding students through the 4 phases of Inquiry Learning, students will be able to develop comprehensive inquiry skills. Each of the phases is distinct and cannot work without each other. Focusing on specific phases in lesson plans can hone student understanding and skill. “Guided Inquiry” integrates inquiry skills and content knowledge, which can be applied to projects and activities. Together for Learning Inquiry Process Appendix, pg. 44, can be used as a reference for teaching strategies.
Promoting inquiry learning throughout the school and
the community will sustain a culture of Inquiry. Teacher, student, parent, and community partnerships can be connected through inquiry learning, such as information nights, talks, meetings, student clubs, providing resources, and school initiatives. Parent seminars on 'How to ask the right questions?' or 'Finding Success through Inquiry' can enable personal connections to the value to Inquiry learning. Debate and research clubs can allow students practice inquiry
skills. School wide challenges where open-ended questions are proposed and classes must find the 'answer'
can be implemented. Inquiry learning has to extend beyond lesson plans to become part of the community culture.
"Student questions are the seed of real learning"
By 'empowering' students, we encourage them to take risks, ask meaningful questions, and to pursue their own interests. Negative student feelings during first phase of Inquiry: Exploring, such as apprehension, anxiety and confusion, can be reduced by creating a safe and non-judgmental environment. Allowing students to explore their own interests during the inquiry process will ensure
that meaningful understanding and connections to the world occurs. Investigating personal interests can motivate students to become part of the inquiry process.
Together for Learning
TDSB:The Inquiry Process
Creating Classrooms We Need
Capacity Building Series: Student Inquiry
Several challenges can exist when promoting an inquiry model. Challenges such as:
changing student, teacher, parent and administration attitude to embrace the inquiry process
creating engaging and effective activities and tasks for students that encompass the principles of every inquiry phase
integrating technology in a meaningful manner to support inquiry learning, instead of impeding growth
compiling a wealth of resources and inquiry-based platforms
"Learners move beyond merely retrieving factual information to constructing personal meaning and building individual and
collective knowledge. As learners read, research, experiment, discover, perform and create in the Learning Commons, they collaborate with others to test, confirm and enrich their learning."
Together for Learning, pg. 14
develops approach for understanding, processing and synthesizing multiple literacies (traditional, information,
media, visual, cultural, digital, critical)
encourages higher level thinking skills (metacognition)
facilitates 'empowerment' of the student
promotes student-directed learning and learning accountability
fosters risk-taking, trial and error, and experimentation attitude in an inclusive environment
enables the use of technology to support all stages of the process
motivating students to reflect, follow their own interests and to make personal connections to learning
modeling and promoting flexible methodology (experimentation, different stages of learning)
providing time for students to fully become invested in inquiry