Prior to this course, I knew what inquiry was, but did not fully understand its depth. After completing this week’s readings, I now understand why inquiry based learning is a process that is tough to define, and even harder to teach. Since there is no manual for inquiry, it becomes a process that is learned through experience. Having said that, inquiry may look different to each student. The Inquiry Page: Learning Begins with Questions website (http://inquiry.illinois.edu/inquiry/process.php) does a wonderful job showing the cyclical pattern that inquiry follows. It describes how questioning, investigating, creating, discussing, and reflecting all work as one to create inquiry. Upon reading about inquiry, I made the connection between its process, and the lesson planning that I do within our Learning Focused school. Starting lessons with an Essential Question, is very much like the beginning stage of inquiry. Despite starting with a question, I feel as though many lessons miss out on the depth that inquiry can offer. So many times we scratch the surface instead of diving into the material and really investigating it, creating new things from the information at hand, and reflecting on why it was important.
For some students, such as those who are gifted, inquiry may come to them more naturally, but for those who are struggling learners, inquiry may become a challenge in itself. After reading this week's articles, I feel that everyone has the ability to experience inquiry, despite the fact that it may happen on various levels. Teaching inquiry to our students allows them to have ownership of their learning, and at times can become uncomfortable for the teacher since they simply become the facilitator when the kids take the active role. Despite it being uncomfortable at times, we need to be open to inquiry and encourage it in our classrooms in efforts to create lifelong learners in our students.
Inquiry really sparks my interest because it reminds me of the concept of project based learning and the positives that can come from it. I believe that incorporating as
many real world projects and applications into my classroom will better prepare my students for their future and will allow them to get the most value from their learning.
One question I have is how should we be molding our classroom lessons at the elementary level to spark inquiry? We homogeneously group our students so some of our groups naturally lend themselves to inquiry, where as others do not. Even though all students are capable of inquiry, the lower achieving students tend to sit back and let the teachers do things for them since they have learned helplessness. I guess that all goes reverts back to the never ending battle with finding what motivates each student!