Etlead week 8

What are the importance of inquiry and questioning in your discipline? How do/can you nurture student passion in your classroom?


Inquiry is very important to learning. As a 3rd grade teacher I have to find probing questions for all subject areas. I will admit that I am not consistent with this. Math is the best and easiest time for me to do the questioning. Questioning in math for me is a lot of “why?” why did you round up or down? Why did you add that digit to the next place? I want them to be able to explain it in hopes that it will then make more sense to them and hopefully stick. As I type this I am thinking about how to add a “I wonder” section to the math journal. Maybe do a recap of the week and have them do an “I wonder” writing.

            “Inquiry honors the complex, interconnected nature of knowledge construction, striving to provide opportunities for both teachers and students to collaboratively build, test and reflect on their learning.” (Stephenson, 2013). If I can get young students to reflect on what they learn in 3rd grade some of the ground work has been created for the upper levels. Right now this process has been more difficult than I thought. I ask them questions that make them responsible for holding on to what they heard and learned but so far the retention is not there. I am hoping some of the listening comprehension skills we are working on in class will also contribute to this process. I ask them why they do certain processes all the time I know they know the answers but struggle to verbalize. Most look at me like it is a trick question.

            When I read this EQ I thought about the curriculums of international schools I have been researching for possible future employment. I started to look up several inquiry based curriculums and found a lot of great information from how to begin in a very explicit manner to descriptions of the types of inquiry based learning. Ass we know students all learn differently and different areas have different needs. So after reading all the information I would like to be able to use some of it in my classroom I started to think about my students and their needs and how that relates to what type of inquiry based learning might be best for my students. I came to a conclusion but then thought about our classroom collaboration and how it is better with different perspectives so I pose this question.



What type of inquiry based learning do you think would be best for the students described below and why?


1-2 years below grade level, very little background knowledge, requires a very scaffolded learning process with much practice, limited retention or practice outside of school with new skills.


Would you chose:

  • Problem-based learning; learning that starts with an ill-structured problem or case-study.
  • Project-based learning; students create a project or presentation as a  demonstration of their understanding.
  • Design-based learning: learning through the working design of a solution to a complex problem.


I have an idea of what I would use of the three but I would like some input and ideas for a new perspective.



International Bacclaureate Organization, (2013) The IB Primary years Programme.

Retrieved from


Stephenson, N. (2013). Introduction to Inquiry Based Learning. Retrieved from


The Inquiry Curriculum. (2013) Inquiry Curriculum. Retrieved from.


7 thoughts on “Etlead week 8

  1. As my students complete the Two Minute Edit in SFA or their Daily Spiral Reviews in math, I often question them as why they did something. Why did you capitalize that letter? Why did you add instead of subtract? I guess I do more questioning than I thought.

  2. Tracie Weisz

    Courtney – great question! I think any of the three could work, but what really matters is how you start. Determine your essential question – the way I think about this is, even if they were able to answer a part of this question (especially at 3rd grade), it would show that they are building context for being able to understand a more complex problem. Then I think the challenging part is bringing in the things that will begin to spark interest. Depending on the question, this may be things like an artifact, a video, a picture, a chart or graph, a guest speaker, or all of these and more. However, bring them in just one thing at a time, and make the kids start asking questions about them – “What don’t you know? What questions could you ask?”. It’s a good start for some good discussions and collaborations that might lead in all different directions, but eventually lead to understanding. Also trying to find answers to good questions inevitably leads to more questions, so there is so much potential for learning with more of a depth of understanding. But I think this/way of inquiry learning can easily lend itself to any of the three suggestions you have posted. I wouldn’t say one is harder than another. I like your idea of adding the “I wonder” column to your math journals. This makes sense for younger students to start thinking in this way and reflecting as they go. Sometimes things they wonder about get answered later in the lesson, but sometimes they don’t – so I like the idea of teaching them to be kind of meta-cognitive about it as they go along.

    1. Thanks. great input. I read your blog and liked the way you use the beginning to introduce the item and then have them ask questions. I hope to use that in the very near future. I appreciate your knowledge and willing ness to share and lend your experiences to help others!

  3. I think my students need visual reminders of what we are working on. I like to post the essential question on the wall. Then students can add sticky notes or other visuals to the wall as we gather information to answer the question. This works really well with basal curriculum. We use Storytown in our district, but I’ve used this with Open Court. Usually the stories are organized in themes. Let’s say the theme is respect. I might ask the question, what is respect? Over the 6-week unit, we may add thoughts and opinions backed up by the reading to help answer the question. At the end, students produce a product that answers the essential question. The piece starts out as writing but can be published in a variety of manners: iMovie, screencasts, drawing, ComicLife, PowerPoint, podcast… really anything. The final product could include things they wondered along the way, and of course, things they learned over the course of the unit. This could work with ANY subject.

  4. Andrea

    Ooh… international schools! Where are you considering? That’s how my husband and I started, still have friends in the circuit all over the world. Such a wonderful experience!

    1. Right now I have a diverse list from Japan to Sao Paulo, to Finland to Doha in Qatar. My ideal place would have easy access to travel, a climate with more than 1 season. fresh fruit and veggies available, schools I would like a less scripted curriculum, more chances for students to do extra curricular activities: Art, music, drama, debate, sports ect. Any thing I should be aware of that you think I should know?

  5. I like your question… What would you choose for Kindergarteners? I’ve been looking into doing the project based learning activities. But, only researching… I am a bit overwhelmed with a large class. All I can imagine is chaos right now. I also like the idea of posting the essential question on the wall. I started that, but haven’t done that in the last few weeks.

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