The art of enquiry is the most natural gift we all possess. As humans we are innately curious so it makes sense to tap into the natural curiosities of children to help them to learn. The British National Curriculum, which is the foundation of all our lessons across all age groups.
One of the main advantages of an enquiry approach to learning is that is makes students active learners. Active learners recall information, engage in the process of understanding the concepts their learning is based on and retain information for much longer.
The steps to an enquiry approach to learning are rooted in setting up or posing questions that engage learners. The questions used are driven by National Curriculum objectives, but as students become older and more adept at driving their own learning, many of the enquiry questions are posed by the students. Curriculum content naturally flows from one subject area to the other as studies are integrated and interrelated.
Teacher set up the enquiry by locating the curriculum objectives within subject specific content and shaping the information into a scheme of work. This allows students to create an end product. The teacher’s role is essential in designing activities that activate prior knowledge. Students take ownership of their learning as they:
Students learn best when they are active learns that ask questions, investigate soulutions, create new knowledge as they gather information, discuss their discoveries and experiences and reflect on new knowledge. Learning is not based on teacher directed lessons or recall. Students are learning the skills to synthesise, interpret and evaluate.
A typical inquiry would follow the following path:
Within any area of inquiry there are three levels of approach a teacher can take:
Depending on the level of student ability and age one of these approaches will be adopted.
Through out the enquiry students are assessed for content knowledge. An authentic assessment task is the preferred assessment type. This ensures that data that is gathered relates only to a student’s new knowledge as it relates to the objective of the enquiry.