When I started on the Inquiry Learning journey this semester, I thought I understood what inquiry learning was and how to use it effectively in my teaching practice. Whilst engaging in the inquiry tasks, I quickly learned that I had a lot to learn about inquiry! I used many research tasks in my teaching practice and believed that I was teaching the inquiry process and information search process to my students but now I understand that inquiry is about the journey, about teaching students to generate questions to investigate and about allowing independence and creativity for students to express their learnings.
This unit has challenged my understandings, opening my eyes to the interrelatedness of the Information Search Process and Inquiry Learning and the importance of using questioning frameworks to build student’s higher order thinking skills. Through this unit, I have experienced, first hand, Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process and believe I am more in tune with the feelings students experience in the classroom. Taking the knowledge of this process into my context, I believe I will be more conscious of planning for inquiry learning and teaching students how to inquire. How to construct knowledge, how to learn! To impart information is an essential element of education but so is teaching curiosity, information literacy, questioning and inquiry!
Collaboration is key in inquiry learning but also in multi-age contexts. When developing my inquiry unit, I thought about how I could bring in expertise from around me to build the experience for the children and give different perspectives on the question. Collaborating provides richer experiences and allows students to think about how the inquiry effects different people. In the multi-age classroom, students need to collaborate – they need to work together and learn off each other. Engaging in inquiry learning can be challenging and students will need teacher support and guidance but the excitement and interest it can generate makes it worthwhile. Learning is never complete and I want my students to be excited about learning. To question, wonder and explore the world!
When I started the unit, I had trouble generating inquiry questions and felt lost in the unit. Now I have more questions than when I started! Further investigations for me are:
- How can I use the GeSTE windows more effectively when planning inquiry units in early childhood classrooms?
- How can inquiry learning be used in all areas of the curriculum?
- Is open inquiry suitable for all ages and subjects?
- Are particular models of inquiry suitable for different age groups and subjects?
An inquiry is never complete – it is constantly evolving, changing and generating more questions. I look forward to continuing to developing my inquiry knowledge and using it to enhance the learning of my students, and in the process creating life long learners. I am going to enjoy continuing to travel the long and winding road, and embrace the twists and turns of inquiry.