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Working through the different types of Inquiry

Written by Vitra Sharma
August 12, 2018

Inquiry driven teaching and learning has been proven to be beneficial for learners. Many schools are adopting this practise and have seen positive learning results because to this approach. I first began teaching in an inquiry school 3 years ago and I was very intimidated with this style of teaching. I was nervous about just ‘letting go’ and having students take the lead of their learning. How was I suppose to cover everything in the curriculum? What if they were not genuinely interested in what needed to taught? How was I suppose to assess this? I teach at a school with a large amount of EAL students. The language barrier I experienced with some of my students made it challenging to teach them inquiry based lessons, because I was unable to communicate effectively by asking questions to gage their understanding. Translation apps and drawing pictures only went so far, and I felt it was not true inquiry.

I have learned that inquiry can be broken down in different levels: confirmation, structured, guided and open. In order for a student to be able to do open inquiry, the skills needed for the previous steps should be taught (such as research, data collection, analysis, etc.) Throughout the units I teach, I’ve come to realise that my teaching style starts off like confirmation inquiry and the goal eventually is to teach students the skills to for open inquiry.

In my experience the two biggest factors that affect this inquiry process is the student’s level of interest in a particular subject and language barriers as previously mentioned. In these instances, I’ve found guided and structured inquiry to work best when teaching. It takes a while to get use to, but I’ve found that it was worth the initial struggle because it does foster a sense and excitement and love for learning in my students.

I’m curious to find out what are some of your thoughts and experiences with teaching inquiry? How long did it take to become comfortable with this teaching style?

Thanks for reading!


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