Inquiry for the Beginner Teacher

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"What's the deal with inquiry?"

As an Innovation Coach with District School Board Ontario North East, I often get asked this question by my fellow teachers.  Inquiry can be tricky which is why I chose this topic for my first blog post.  I want to share all the things I wish would have been shared with me before starting inquiry with my students.

After reading several articles and attending workshops about inquiry, I noticed that most resources focus only on the WHY of inquiry and not necessarily on the HOW.  

Inquiry in the classroom is all about changing your mindset of what education should look like.  The inquiry process turns the traditional classroom upside down by encouraging the teacher to take a step back from the podium to let students take over the teaching.

This is a great video to share with your students at the beginning of the inquiry process to encourage them to think outside the box and challenge themselves to learn differently. "Be More Dog" is a philosophy that in order to be great, teachers and students need to embrace the 21st century and the type of learning that come along with it.
Teachers need to make a conscious decision to alter the way they teach so they can become more "amazing."  They need to be willing to take risks and try something new by using innovative technologies to engage and add authenticity to the lesson.

Inquiry isn't as complicated as you think!

Inquiry starts with a deep question or challenge where students research, discuss and share their findings to draw conclusions.  Students are then encouraged to share their inquiry and take action outside the classroom.

By following this process, students are building important life skills which support life long learning.

Common Misconceptions About Inquiry

#1: It's way more work than usual

FALSE.  If properly modelled and scaffolded, students learn exactly what to expect.  Also, inquiry requires lots of student-led open discussions that require zero prep and once the inquiry gets started, the teacher's role is to guide and advise.

#2: Inquiry is too unstructured and chaotic

FALSE.  Just because inquiry is based on student interests doesn't mean it isn't highly structured and organized.

#3: Inquiry takes too much time- I won't get through the curriculum

FALSE. Inquiry helps students work on life long skills that will only benefit them in all subject areas. Also, several BIG IDEAS from the curriculum can be addressed with only one inquiry.  Besides, who gets through the entire curriculum anyways?
Inquiry can also be cross-curricular which is extremely beneficial for elementary teachers who teach several subjects!

#4: Evaluating my students will be too time consuming

FALSE.  Inquiry opens the door to several different assessment possibilities that can easily be accomplished every day.

If you would like to learn more about how to get inquiry-based learning started in your classroom, check out my next blog post!  It includes tips and pointers on how to get your students to become MORE DOG!

Lindsay Deschamps


I am an Innovation Instructional Coach for District School Board North-East in Ontario, Canada.


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