An inquiry into inquiry…

Also posted recently at What Ed Said

IB Workshop Leader Training Day #3

We spend the morning exploring concept driven curriculum, an area I have discussed before on this blog. I’ve summarised Lynn Erickson’s ideas and I’ve shared examples of concept driven learning in the classroom.

Today we sum up our understandings, distilling the essence via a Frayer’s model, which has us creating a definition of a concept, describing the characteristics, listing out examples and non-examples.

The rest of the day is devoted to a concept driven inquiry of our choice, into almost any aspect of Thai culture, via personal exploration of the Chiang Mai area and communication with local people. It’s not a fact-finding mission, the focus is to be on the process. We spend some time in our groups deciding where to go, what to explore, what conceptual lens to use, which inquiry model will suit our purpose and how we will go about our inquiry… and then we’re off on foot, bicycle or bus.

The presentations the next day are inspiring. You can see more examples here and here.

Each group shares their discoveries and their challenges. Participants have realised that inquiry is not a linear process, and rarely even a cyclical one. The process moves back and forth between asking, investigating, reflecting, connecting, constructing meaning … Some groups find they are even shifting between more than one ‘model’. This is true inquiry. It has no map, no set pattern and it can be messy. Some of the high school teachers in particular, less familiar with this kind of learning, admit to feeling a degree of discomfort. But it’s the kind of positive tension that leads to authentic learning.

People have learned a great deal today… not just about Thai culture, but about inquiry, about concept driven learning, about working in groups with other strong, passionate people, about ourselves as learners and about the process of learning itself.

Craig is wondering how he can adapt this process for his Grade 4 class. I’m wondering how to recreate it back at my school for the teachers! Perhaps gaining a deep understanding of inquiry learning involves experiencing it yourself…

About whatedsaid

Teaching and Learning Coordinator at an IB PYP school in Melbourne, Australia. I'm a teacher, a learner, an inquirer...
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1 Response to An inquiry into inquiry…

  1. tashacowdy says:

    I love the group inquiries. I find that I engage much more in informal, unstructured inquiries than I do in formal, structured ones. Yet I expect my students to be doing both. I need to make the time and effort to engage more often in a structured inquiry cycle. I know that my understanding deepens each time I do it. And I need to find some cohorts to join me; for me, collaborative inquiry is a much richer experience. Thanks for planting the seed and giving me a nudge!


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