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Blog: Thursday, February 14th, 2019

My Inquiry on Inquiry Learning

After attending a Google Conference featuring Victoria teacher, Trevor MacKenzie, I was inspired to read his book, Dive into Inquiry. What really made sense to me was Trev’s approach to scaffolding inquiry skills in a series of units (structured, controlled, and guided) so that students can build and practice inquiry skills over time to ensure that they can successfully design and execute a unique Free Inquiry project of their own by the end of the course. 

Last year, I took a leap of faith and completely re-structured my English 12 course (with the new curriculum) to fit into this model, making sure the lion’s share of the curricular standards were covered by the end of the 3rd unit, the Guided Inquiry. This left students with the freedom to follow their unique passions and interests in their Free Inquiry unit. I entered this with both excitement and trepidation because in some ways it felt like walking into the great unknown. The year was a roller coaster of challenges and joys that inspired me to continue to use the Inquiry model in my daily practice. While the Inquiry model is not for every type of learner, student feedback at end of the course was overwhelmingly positive, with all students engaged in their Inquiry questions and successfully completing their own Free Inquiry project.

My takeaway was how much inquiry learning takes students from passive consumers to active participants who take ownership of their learning.  Students learn fairly quickly that with greater choices and freedom comes greater responsibility to follow through on the learning.  What I wasn’t expecting was to see how much the Core Competency skills are tapped into in an Inquiry model, and I could easily identify gaps in core competencies, such as time management, problem solving, and self-regulation.  These challenges and gaps became opportunities for students to grow their core competency skills, even as some faltered but were still able to problem solve and, ultimately, succeed.  My role was to mentor and support them, and their success was owned by them. These opportunities translate into real world skills that students can take with them beyond graduation, no matter which field of study or career path they choose.

English Department, Yale Secondary