Inquiry Based Learning

What is Inquiry Based Learning? What does it look like? How does it make a difference?

This is what was running through my mind, and while I looked at the list of different types of  learning I was drawn to this one again and again, because it seems to be so powerful, and a bit different from the traditional lessons and classroom, and I love that. Classrooms that are practicing inquiry based learning are sometimes at a very loud volume level, particularly during the beginning instructional phase in which kids are applying the scientific method. Kids are investigating through “I see, I wonder” often with dirty hands and desks full of “specimens, or discoveries.” Alterations of the KWL chart is often seen during or before this stage as well.  After they complete this part they move onto theorizing, testing, analyzing, experimenting, sometimes all of these things, sometimes only whichever is needed. Students then share and review, often this will include insight from outside sources to answer questions and invite guest speakers or ask and answer questions among one another which is very important to the development of the learner.

One big difference in the Inquiry Based Learning  is that instead of guiding the students to the goals, targets or standards, the teacher is there more to assist the learning that is happening, more like a coach then the sage on the stage. The questions developed are created by the students, the teacher lets the students arrive at the deep discoveries they need to make to meet the standards, and they do arrive at them.

I came across a great description of what Inquiry Based Learning is here. Also a 2nd grade teacher writes about her students and experience with inquiry based learning in  this blog.

A great tool connected to Inquiry based is the use of mind maps, these can me made up with an outline or the they can be created on the fly by students themselves, which is usually what begins to happen when kids learn how to process and organize their inquiries through this type of learning.

mind maps

Here is a video I discovered explaining what Inquiry based learning is. Enjoy.


This next video is an inspiring example of a creative, inquiry based classroom. While I was watching this video I was thinking to myself how I want to have a class that uses inquiry based learning. I also regrettably have never seen in it action in my district, I have been to a number of schools and classes and I have rarely seen a science lesson let alone an inquiry based lesson with the freedom and excitement such as these in this video.




Teachers to follow

These are the types of educators that make you want to stand up on your chair and say         ” Yes, that is how you do it!”





8 thoughts on “Inquiry Based Learning

  1. With as hard as our modern school systems have worked to align standards, wield test scores, hold teachers/students/schools accountable, etc., it’s so difficult for us to believe a child will actually arrive at valuable standards by asking their own questions. Truth be told, perhaps they won’t after years and years of being told what to read and think. But if they start out having the option to discover their own inquiries, with a little guidance, it’s amazing how they retain that inquisitiveness over the years. Trusting children has never been our forte. Boo! Great video. Don’t you want to just step inside those Golden, CO school classrooms and feel the energy. Love the risk and problem-solving experiences these children are getting in each of their classrooms! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I didn’t mention that to get to a place that can successfully implement inquiry based learning requires a lot of “unlearning” or training. It is more probable that it will be truly successful at the end of the school year, when a teacher has built up their confidence in inquiries, and problem solving. I loved the energy from that video, it sparked my teaching fire!


  2. I loved your post, and I also really enjoyed those videos! I also like that you were implying that students don’t need to be taught to do something by the teacher, but they learn, and have the teacher there if they don’t understand, or need a boost. All children are smart in one way or another, and all children at one point will need a little help.


    1. Yes, and if a teacher sets up the classroom and the beginning of a lesson right, the students should be able to pick up and run with it. When obstacles arrive the teacher is there with resources to offer for them to overcome.

      Liked by 1 person

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