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Top Resources to Cultivate an Inquiry-Based Classroom

It seems that every day of the past ten months has been a new chapter in history, and our students have front row seats as it unfolds. It makes me wonder, “What are we learning from all of this? ARE we learning from all of this?” Inquiry-based learning could be one of the keys to ensuring that we make meaning of our experiences and pursue a more profound understanding to guide future decisions. In her book, The Power of Inquiry: Curiosity, Creativity and Purpose in the Contemporary Classroom, Kath Murdoch defines inquiry:

“Inquiry is an approach that places the learner and learning central to what the teacher thinks, says and does. Learning happens through thorough investigation which in itself is driven by powerful questions often framed by authentic contexts and real-life problems and purposes.” (Murdoch, 2015)

I believe that inquiry-based learning is one of the most powerful methods of teaching. It equips and empowers every student to think deeply and desire to learn more. It makes each of us vulnerable as we admit that we have questions, and we develop a community in which we learn alongside others.

There are some misconceptions regarding inquiry-based learning. It is not merely giving students a question, handing them a computer, and wishing them luck. Inquiry is also not always research on the internet. Instead, inquiry starts with student questions, is planned and supported by a teacher, and ends with reflection (before beginning again). Here’s a table to further elucidate (a pdf may be downloaded by clicking the image):

Four main factors bring inquiry-based learning to life: an authentic challenge, a class culture that values curiosity, cycles of questioning/researching, and a teacher who is an inquiry coach. We’ve started a resource list to support you in each of these areas. Please note that many of the resources fit into multiple categories.

Authentic challenges

Libraries, resources, examples, and ideas for authentic challenges to drive inquiry

Building a culture of inquiry

Strategies for building a culture of inquiry and examples of inquiry coming to life

Cycles of inquiry

Resources and strategies to structure and support cycles of inquiry with learners

Coaching Inquiry

Things to consider and strategies to use as you deepen your coaching practice

What are your favorite resources for inquiry-based learning? What stories of the power of inquiry can you tell from your own experience? We'd love to hear from you! Until then, stay curious!


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