Classroom Management, Inquiry Based Learning, Teaching, Teaching Resources

How do I Teach through Inquiry?

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inquiry based learning

I recently had a colleague ask me how exactly I “do inquiry in my classroom”.  She then went on to ask why I teach through inquiry.  I didn’t even have to think about before I responded with the following:

Humans naturally learn through inquiry.  Think about babies, toddlers, preschoolers.  Before they go to school and “become educated”, they are learning an enormous amount! Each of these experiences they are learning through involves inquiry based learning.

How do you teach through inquiry?

I have been really trying to hone in on an easy way to answer this question…and feel as though the best possible way is to give an example.  The second week of school after briefing students on proper science laboratory safety, I wanted them to actually use the materials and figure out ways to measure specific objects.  I did not tell them how to measure each item: rock, marble, cube, or liquid.  They had to use inquiry based learning.  In essence, they had to use prior knowledge, making connections to what we discussed already this year.

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Yes, I was on hand for my students to bounce ideas off of, or guide down the correct path when they posed a question that was leading them to the proper way to measure! Now, I was also available for my students who had no clue where to start! They are easier to help than you think! You see, once you have one group that has figured it out, the rest just observe and try to follow suit.

BUT…is observing really inquiry?

Absolutely! Why not? Have you heard the saying, “Inquiring minds want to know…”.  This statement also implies that inquiry can be done through listening, too! Inquiry based learning, simply put, is making topics or activities interesting enough for students to be engaged in, to the point where you are no longer lecturing, but aiding in understanding.  Does that make sense?

teach through inquiry

What happens next?

Well, once the majority of the class had figured out how to measure through inquiry, their own methods of inquiry, I ask extending questions.  I want to see just how well the students grasp the idea(s).  So, I asked them how we might be able to measure OTHER OBJECTS that were not available to us.  It’s an easy oral quiz! And, because I use standards based grading, it’s SUPER EASY to see at what level each student is understanding.

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Your Challenge: Try one inquiry activity in your classroom! Make sure to check back on my store and here for more activities on inquiry!

Until next time,




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