Igniting inquiry

We have liftoff

Inquiry, we have liftoff

Before students begin a new inquiry investigation, they must have questions.  Inquiry really gets off the ground when kids have a burning “need to know.”  There are several ways that I like to help give them that inspiration:

  • Play with a purpose activities
  • Current events
  • Demonstrations (preferably a “discrepant event”)
  • Guided inquiry labs
  • Video, images, or other multimedia
  • Guest speakers
  • Randomly generated student questions and ideas (maybe the best place to start inquiry!)

What I’ve found (and also heard from other teachers) is that kids often have a hard time generationg good questions in an open-inquiry type situation.  To ask a good question, one must have some context – some background knowledge.  One way to do this is to place content in front of the inquiry.  Unfortunately, the most common way to do this is with traditional instruction.  There is a better way, though; this is where inquiry ignitors come in.

Inquiry ignitors give students a framework within which to ask their questions.  They help the teacher to guide the student in a productive direction without limiting their curiosity.  It allow educators to guide open-inquiry toward a standard or learning goal without taking away the most important part of the student’s role – asking a question that he or she wants to answer.

Look for future posts describing ways to use each of the inquiry ignitors I mentioned above

Photo courtesy of NASA

2 thoughts on “Igniting inquiry

  1. Thanks. My only hope is that they help some kids somewhere get more inquiry based instruction than they would have otherwise!

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