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  • Writer's pictureLidia

4 SKILLS TO TEACH when beginning an Inquiry

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

Wow, wow, wow! It has been a hot minute since I have written a blog post. Like everyone in the education world, I too am dealing with the never-ending changes of school due to the pandemic. My teacher position has changed 3 times so far this school year! Things have started to calm down a bit now that we are in a routine so this is my time to get back into blogging! As I mentioned, my position has changed many times this year. I am currently in the role that I have been eagerly waiting to do for years... TEACHER LIBRARIAN! It has been great! I get to use my passion for creativity, inquiry and technology to support all students and staff members in my school.

I felt as though I should give you an update but ....Now on to the good stuff!

Now that we are all back in school there are a lot of changes that have taken place. Although the way in which we are instructing has changed, the environment has changed and even our position and schedules have changed, we shouldn't be afraid to try something new or continue on your inquiry journey.

Whether you are teaching online or in person, the basics of inquiry can be applied to your instruction. In this blog post, I will be sharing 4 SKILLS TO TEACH when beginning an Inquiry with your students. Some of these tips may seem obvious, but it is important to note that these 4 tips are all part of the beginning stages of rolling out inquiry with your students.

1. SELF REFLECTION: Spend time getting to know your students

We are 3 months into school now and you probably have a good idea about who your students are as learners, but don't stop there! When you are getting to know your students you need to challenge them, encourage them to take risks, let them explore and express themselves through their learning. An amazing way to do this is to engage your students in an inquiry about their IDENTITY! Self-awareness and self-reflection are key components of a successful inquiry. Get your students thinking about who they are, what they bring to the class, where they bring their knowledge from and have them share it!

2. CONVERSATIONS: Focus on how to speak & ask questions!

This may seem silly but, having a conversation is a skill that needs to be explicitly taught to our students if you hope to have meaningful knowledge building occurring in the classroom. Engaging in a lesson on what a "good" conversation looks like, sounds like and feels like is important. I have talked about my Knowledge Building Questions and Prompt cards in a blog post before so I won't go into too much detail. Creating classroom VERBAGE for your students will allow them to have that meaningful rich conversation that is thought-provoking, while providing a chance to share and challenge differing ideas and opinions.

3. DOCUMENTATION: Making observations

Documentation for students and teachers is something that needs to happen during any inquiry. Teaching your students various documentation skills, strategies, techniques and tools will make your inquiry journey so much easier and organized. As a teacher, I like to use my observation checklists and charts but when it comes to my students we use so many digital tools. Some of these tools include: Flipgrid, Google Slides and Forms, Book Creator, Nimbus Screen Recorder, Padlet, Adobe Spark and more!

4. EXPERIMENT & CHALLENGE: Form an opinion on something and challenge it!

Once you have conversations, questions, observations and documentation skills under wraps it is time to challenge our ideas! Listen to your students, take their interests, curiosities and questions and apply them to the big ideas in your curriculum. Environmental/ human impact is a HUGE idea that so many inquiries can stem from.

Now that you have an idea:

- What are your essential questions?

- What are you trying to discover?

- What is your opinion?

- How can you challenge it?

Even when an idea seems impossible, there are always ways to re-jig the question to make it right for your student's inquiry!

Inquiry isn't as scary as it may seem, but it is a bit more complicated than what most people think.

When we inquire we do so with PURPOSE!

Inquiry isn't just a passion project or a genius hour project that often turns into busy work or a research assignment. For me, the most important part of the inquiry process is the PROCESS of learning. Sure the product is important, but when you are completing a passion project the mindset is automatically focussing on the final product rather than the journey you take while learning. This is why I like to teach the staff and students at my school about SKILL building. These are four skills that I think are essential for you and your students when you are inquiring.

If you want to know more about SKILL BUILDING IN INQUIRY:

Let's talk, collaborate and share ideas and opinions!

- Lidia

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