Framing the Curriculum for Inquiry Based Learning! An inquiry into division.

I have been participating in some professional development program which focuses on the ‘powerful’ learning practices. A significant part of this PD is in inquiry learning and developing curiosity in kids – very much in the Ken Robinson mould of changing education perspectives for the future…

Inquiry had always been a daunting and scary prospect, and something honestly I never understood properly…. and my understandings are still developing.

However this PD put inquiry to me in a manageable and practical way.

Frame the curriculum like a question.

It doesn’t have to be a big, expansive unit, full of resources you don’t have. At the barebones, inquiry is allowing kids to try to explore a question, develop their own answers and then present what they find.

This revelation and simplistic view on inquiry has inspired many changes in my classroom. In the smallest context or lesson I have been using an inquiry approach which the kids love! The independence, cooperative learning opportunities and genuine curiosity it can create is mind boggling and truly motivating for children.

Sooooo here is an example….

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 5.52.36 pm

Instructions and questions on my whiteboard, with learning intentions.

A run of the mill Maths lesson focusing on the connection between division and repeated subtraction, which would normally be taught in the traditional deliver and listen, followed by a pen and paper activity was turned into a simple question….

How is division similar to repeated subtraction?

Sharing counters for division - inquiry approach to maths

Sharing counters for division.

Kids then chose their groups, they themselves making sure there was a ‘confident’ maths person in each group. Counters were provided for students to explore and they were also encouraged to think back to our multiplication unit to make the connection to ‘repeated addition’.
They went away with a nervous excitement and in small groups I saw them discuss the problem, share their ideas, teach each other and then decide on the best way to present their explanation and what they found.Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 5.52.52 pm

When each group was finished, they shared their findings to the class. All groups had decided to make posters to help with their presentations and honestly all of them understood the concept by the end of the lesson.

The inquiry approach sparked their curiosity and allowed them to construct their own understandings. Not to mention they had fun and had control over their own learning!