In general, I like to classify classroom inquiry activities into three general categories: Independent, Guided, and Modeled.
I have blogged fairly extensively about Independent Inquiry and created a wiki dedicated to supporting interest-driven learning in the classroom. Independent inquiry should be totally independent, in my opinion, not limited to ‘schoolwork’ or ‘homework’, due date free, and without any regulation by authority figures beyond common sense and safety.
Guided Inquiry is what is mostly practiced in schools and provides the richest opportunities to balance autonomy with predetermined curriculum. Differentiation is inherent as learners require varying levels of guidance in various situations. The guided inquiry environment is fluid, productive, and engaging.
|Socrates Teaching Perikles (Nicolas Guibal, 1780) CC SA|
In my class’ current unit of inquiry, I planned a modeled inquiry into ‘the role of technology in scientific understanding’ and its effects on people’s lives. Feel free to visit the planning document which contains links to the resources we utilized along the way.
We also watched several informative videos, including Leaders Of The 3D Printing Revolution, which proved to be very stimulating for discussion and led authentically to the primary provocation for the unit:
‘Will 3D printing change the world?’
After some time to explore independently, the students wrote reflective blog posts to summarize their impressions and identify areas of particular interest to them.
In the future, I think it will be best utilized in the form of mini-lessons embedded in a unit, or even as stand-alone research skills lessons to support more independent inquiry.