back to top

How To: 11 Steps To Inquiry-Based Learning For Teachers

"For all you teachers out there who lack the confidence, motivation, overall knowledge or simply feel apprehensive sit back, grab a glass and pour me something tall and strong! "You need to face the fact that you are a guide or a facilitator of learning. You need to be a risk-taker and get out of your own comfort zone by allowing students to take the lead in their own learning. Don't use traditional methods anymore but start to develop the 21st century competencies through discovery and journey" - Anonymous

Posted on

1. Keep Calm and W(h)ine on! / Via

Take a deep breath and say to yourself, "I am a strong teacher, I am ready to embrace the following steps to structuring, developing and implementing inquiry-based learning in my classroom..... right after this bottle of wine"

Realistically: Inquiry-Based learning starts with you as the teacher. Embrace you own sense of inquisitiveness, playfulness, curiosity and imagination. We all have questions about the world and our existing place within it so embrace it and model it for your students . Ask students open-ended, critical questions; such as, I wonder….I’m curious about….What if…questions are great to guide us in our everyday encounters. Teach them critical and creative thinking skills by explicitly providing opportunities for students to be exposed to different perspectives and social justice issues. Provide meaningful, hands-on experiences, allow for and encourage collaboration which fosters learning.

2. Money, Money, Money.... MONAYYYYY

By the time you are have graduated from Teachers College hopefully, you've won the lottery!

Although it may seem that inquiry-based learning can be an expensive endeavor. Starting small never hurt anyone. Initiating one IBL lesson per term can be your trajectory. "Beginning with open ended materials or manipulatives is best so that learners have an opportunity to intra-act with the materials to create co-constructed meanings—fluid meanings that change as the nature of learning changes". By starting small and encouraging or facilitating the inquiry direction of students, you can ensure a better bang for your buck!

3. To be or not to be, that is the... inquiry question?

Being yourself comes as an advantage because being an inquiry teacher requires you to leave your pride at the door, get up on that horse, and let go of the reins.

Truthfully; It starts with being yourself, being true to who you are and channeling that inner child. You must pull out your curious, playful, attentive, open-minded, flexible thinker, collaborative and reflective self. You must be open to chaos and spontaneity. Embrace the unknown and have no fear!

4. Feel the Learning, Embrace the Learning!

Some children are interested in how birds fly... Others are interested in how to make a fart noise with their mouth!

All children, no matter their age, can learn through the inquiry method. Taking the inquiry route is far more effective than the traditional route. It allows for the authentication of learning and empowers learners by connecting them through body, mind and spirit. By allowing learnings to choose their pace, while differentiating for them, learning becomes student focused allowing them to become more engaged and more excited about their learning.

5. You want me to do WHAT?

The only true things we inquire about in Teachers College is the price of gas, the wine collection on sale, and the friends willing to entertain me for the weekend!

In reality, we as teacher candidates were presented with the idea of inquiry-based teaching. New terminology that we were instructed to bring to our teaching forefront in order to become that 21st century teacher. Today inquiry based learning is defined as "Responsive, cyclical, recursive, active, and involves questioning, experimenting, problem solving etc. by bother the teacher and the student.

6. Lets get this party started!

First we thought our professors were intimidating. Then we thought our associate teachers were intimidating, and then we realized it was actually the complexity of the students that was more horrifying.

"As inquiry based teachers, we become the responders, no longer the planners." Which may be a struggle for some of us who have a hard time letting go of control over the direction of the lesson. As teachers, we need to ready to become the curriculum experts, becoming responsive in any given moment to our students leads or theories in a lateral direction, rather than a linear.

7. Do you hear what I hear?

Ringing through the sky shepherd boy? Silence?

I want you to picture a room that is "messy, loud, dysfunctional and disorder". Now I want you to picture a room thats quiet, concentrated, ordered and regimented. Inquiry based learning can go in either direction. For the environment of the room is "dependent on the children, how they work, and the ways in which they collaborate with their peers". The classroom then becomes a student space. They dictate and "determine the ways in which the classroom feels, looks and sounds".

To see an inquiry-based classroom in the works:

8. If you can do it in language, you can do it in social studies!

Kids say the darnedest things.. literally. The problem is half the time they are in the wrong subject. This can either be used as a learning point, or the "throw your paper up in the air and walk away" point.

Either way, its our job as teachers to utilize these opportunities as a foundation for inquiry. Language arts conserve as the root to all other subjects. "Students can examine structures, draw in structures from around the world and begin to ask questions about them. Through examination, students become stimulated to do research and figure out the math that goes into designing and building structures. In response, students may want to inquire about how structures withstand whether and natural disasters. The possibilities are truly endless."

9. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!

Preparing to teach through and inquiry lens:

1. Raid your house

2. If that fails, raid your best friends house

3. If that fails, raid your Grandmothers house

4. That wont fail, so.. find the weirdest thing in your Grandmas house (that wont be hard)

5. Plant the item in your classroom

6. BOOM - Watch the magic happen

All seriousness aside,

"Preparing means to read and observe. Begin by looking at your curriculum document and examining those big idea's. Putting your best elementary student hat on, start to predict those overarching questions, looking at questions that you can even pose, as the teacher. Use a subject or an object that is unusual to students, something that they may not have ever encountered, even a dirty sock or a dead racoon can lead to investigations and inquiry."

10. When life gives you lemons, grab some tequila and salt!

Life is short, smile while you still have teeth!

"Teachers may struggle to shift their mindset from the traditional way of teaching to the facilitator or responder. As we start out it is our responsibility to negotiate our space and time remaining reflective in our practice, no matter the grade or age of our students."

"Assessment is intimidating and scary for teachers who are starting and implementing inquiry based learning. Always remember the three types of assessment; for, of, and as. Allow for assessment to be produced and conducted in a multimodal fashion. Just ensure that students are transferring their knowledge, applying prior schema and using new learning in new situations and in life."

11. Tipsy and Tricksy

View this video on YouTube

Hi Im Tipsy.. AKA Blair Caron

and Im Tricksy AKA Nicole Winter

And we are here to tell you about all the tips and tricks to becoming a great teacher. No wine was consumed in the making of this BuzzFeed.

"Be open to improving reconfirming and structuring your professional practice"

"Learning may take place at any moment, in the most unusual places"

"As Teachers we need to try and visit as many inquiry classrooms as possible, attempting to look outside of Ontario to see what inquiry looks like, elsewhere."

"Learning is not straight forward and it is not explicit. It can derive from digital platforms and various resources allowing for students to generate new ideas and initiate new learning."

"As teachers, we need to attend conference, join professional groups, and work with various inquiry lenses that we learn and adapt to."

This post was created by a member of BuzzFeed Community, where anyone can post awesome lists and creations. Learn more or post your buzz!