TeachersPayTeachers Twitter Facebook Email Pinterest Home About Me Resources Freebies Image Map

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Investigating the Meaning of Inquiry in Kindergarten

What is Inquiry Based Leaning in Kindergarten?

In simple form, inquiry-based learning is more of a student-directed way of learning rather than teacher-directed. In some cases, the teaching team may set the general framework for learning, but for the most part, the learning is based on the students questions, ideas and passions. This is similar to the emergent curriculum if that is a term you are more familiar with. Rather than working off set lesson plans that are theme-based and not necessarily developmentally appropriate for all children, your teaching is guided by the students interests thus making the learning more meaningful to them.

We know from research that children achieve optimal learning when they are given plenty of opportunities to become fully engaged in their play. Most often while children are engaged, their natural curiosity of the world around them comes forth. They take notice of everything and have a beautiful sense of wonder about people, places, objects, and nature. Through noticing and wondering, the children come up with questions and observations about their thinking. It is important that children are given the opportunity to investigate their inquiry, gather information, make observations and share their findings with others.

It is the role of the teaching team in kindergarten to act as facilitators. We use these opportunities of inquiry to help guide the children with more open-ended questions allowing them to extend and clarify their thinking and make connections, while modeling the inquiry process. We provide the children with the tools, materials and resources they need to investigate these inquiries.

What is the Inquiry Process?

The Full Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program clearly defines the inquiry process in the curriculum document and I have included the table for you below:
There is also an article I enjoyed named "The Plan: Building on Children's Interests" by Hilary Jo Seitz through NAEYC, that you can read here, that offers a very interesting perspective on the inquiry process. It has many similarities to the one in the Full Day Kindergarten document, but I enjoyed the way Hilary explained her four step process. I also now love the term SPARKS which refers to anything that promotes deeper thinking.

Open-Ended Questions to Promote Inquiry

The key to open-ended questions is that they promote further thinking and explanation. Questions that begin with "what, why, how, if etc." are usually open-ended questions. Anything that can be answered with yes or no are typically closed-ended questions and a lot of the time may begin with "can, do etc."
I created the sheet above to carry with me on my clipboard when I am doing observations during the day as a reminder or suggestion. Very quickly these just became natural for me and it is just part of my normal conversations throughout the day with the children.
This certainly won't be my last post on inquiry, but I hope this answers some questions for those who were wondering just what inquiry-based learning is.

post signature

No comments:

Post a Comment