Finding Out

We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.

Lloyd Alexander

“Guided Inquiry:
Students make choices in the inquiry.
Student’s choices lead to deeper understanding guided by
some structure given by the leader.
Structured inquiry:
Students make choices in the inquiry which
are dependent upon guidelines and structure given by the
leader. Amount of structure may vary depending on the
outcome desired and assessments”.,+Inquiry+in+the+PYP+-+Babin+%26+Rhoads.pdf

Finding Out:

This is where we support our students to wonder, inquire, question, research, hypothesize, make connections, activate prior knowledge….

(and at the same time, develop their capacity to ‘think about their thinking’)

  • Gather information from a range of sources

  • Emphasis on encouraging students to gather data first hand

  • Engage with experts, surveys, interviews, observations, experiments, excursions

  • Continue to ask questions
  • Learn skills of investigation

(Kath Murdoch)

Task: Spend 2-3 minutes looking at one of the sites below (the links will remain in this blog so you can return to them later) Explore your chosen site for ideas that start you thinking about inquiry learning (structured, guided or otherwise….),+Inquiry+in+the+PYP+-+Babin+%26+Rhoads.pdf

Effective inquiry teachers focus on learning processes (and dispositions) as well as content.  Feedback is about learning behaviours and skills as well as understanding. Known as ‘split screen thinking’ (Guy Claxton), teacher’s maintain a dual focus on the content of the lesson and the learning dispositions…. (more about this later)

Transdisciplinary Skills

Transdisciplinary Skills can be taught by planning ‘learning intentions’ posed as questions:

  • How can we record our observations accurately?

  • What roles can help a team function smoothly?

  • How can we show someone we are really listening?

  • What strategies help us manage our time more effectively?

  • What helps me stay more focused on a task?

  • How can we edit our own writing more effectively?

  • How can we determine the most relevant parts of a text?

  • How can props be used to improve a presentation?

  • How can we use creative thinking to help us problem solve?

  • How can we give each other useful feedback when working in a team?


The examples … [above] still express a learning intention – but they invite the learner to investigate and construct their own ideas in response.

The tension between what we hope students will come to learn and our openness to the unexpected and unplanned is what makes inquiry teaching so intriguing and satisfying.       

August 4, 2013, Kath Murdoch   


Visible Thinking

“When thinking is visible in classrooms, students are in a position to be more metacognitive, to think about their thinking. When thinking is visible, it becomes clear that school is not about memorizing content but exploring ideas. Teachers benefit when they can see students’ thinking because misconceptions, prior knowledge, reasoning ability, and degrees of understanding are more likely to be uncovered. Teachers can then address these challenges and extend students’ thinking by starting from where they are.”



 Thinking routines

“By planning for and reflecting on thinking processes within an inquiry we add a powerful layer to the journey one that ensures we help students not only come to understand more their world but also about themselves as thinkers and learners”

Inquiry learning journeys through the thinking processes.© Kath Murdoch


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