Building our Toolkit for Inquiry Learning
The Background Story
My school is revisioning our future. We have been working toward co-creating a model of education, which takes the best of our strengths and using these to design and enact a new Learning Ecosystem.
Our vision is simple. What we want is…
- All students will be experts in their own learning.
- All students are known, advocated for, and supported.
- All students personalize their learning and pursue dreams.
To do this, we simplified our learning and teaching focus into this DNA.
To become experts in their own learning, students need to learn deeply and engage in metacognition to understand how they learn. To become known, advocated for and supported, we need to develop strong positive relationships with our students as their mentors. To create an environment where students can personalize their learning and pursue dreams, we need to allow for personal trajectories; to honor every student’s language of learning, their approaches, the ways they express their understanding and demonstrate skills and character.
The path we have chosen tells us that inquiry-based learning is the way we must take.
So imagine my delight, when preparing to support teachers in understanding inquiry, I found Trevor MacKenzie’s book Dive Into Inquiry. Trevor’s illustration of the levels of inquiry gave me the idea that I could organize the two-day workshop around the levels of inquiry. Two sessions modeling each type, designed to take our workshop deeper into the learning.
In Sessions 1 and 2 we will splash around in a Structured Inquiry.
In Session 3 and 4 we will paddle through a Controlled Inquiry.
In Sessions 5 and 6 we will plunge into Guided Inquiry
In Sessions 7 and 8 we will be diving deep into Open-ended or Free Inquiry.
If we’re going to delve into concepts, competencies and character, we need to honor our diversity and start from the truth of each learner. We can’t do this through a one-size-fits-all approach. We need an approach to learning, which allows each learner to begin where they begin and allows them to journey through their learning with multiple entry points. The pedagogy that allows this personalization of each learner’s pathway is the inquiry approach.
Toolkit version 1.0
Let’s face it. Time is finite in a school. And so is energy. Our goal is to simplify the complexity of learning without reducing it to procedures, worksheets or a store-bought program that may not honor the diversity of our students.
We are just going to have to build it ourselves. And there’s a plethora of strategies available to us to co-construct a toolkit for inquiry. There’s the Visible Thinking Routines by Harvard’s Project Zero. We can experiment, try them out, have conversations around what works and what needs tweaking.
So this Toolkit is just the beginning. As we engage in our workshop on October 14-15, we’ll start to find out what works and what needs adjustment. We’ll experience for ourselves the aims of our workshop, which is built around our school’s DNA of conceptual learning, competency learning and character learning.
- Teachers understand how concepts of constructivist learning are enacted through inquiry.
- Teachers experience and draw upon skills to guide students with personal lines of inquiry.
- Teachers become confident creators of environments and experiences for students to personalise learning.
I’m sharing the Toolkit with those of you who have expressed interest in taking a look. I hope we can share in the conversation and a “willingness to question all your own abilities, your knowledge, to become humble. Only then will you be able to listen to the child, to set off on a common search, to ‘educate each other together’.” (Loris Malaguzzi)
Please click on the cover to download the PDF of our learning guide.