Deepening and refining learning through inquiry
In a third-grade social studies lesson, students are excitedly scribbling questions on yellow sticky notes: “How does climate affect how people live in different regions?” “What causes a disaster to happen?” “How do hurricanes form from water?” Their teachers are circulating, encouraging students to generate as many questions as they can about their study of climate and regions in the United States. The focus and engagement in the room is a powerful example of inquiry-based learning in action.
We know that students (and adults!) learn best when they are asking and answering interesting questions. Psychology research has found that curiosity is the “third pillar” of learning, alongside effort and intelligence (von Stumm, Hell & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2011). By engaging our students in inquiry-based learning, we know they are learning in a deeper and more complex way that allows them to develop the skills and mindsets they will need to be successful at Langley and beyond.
It is through inquiry that learning is not only joyful, but also rigorous. By solving authentic problems, applying challenging skills, and exploring new concepts, students engage in a level of learning that extends and builds their abilities beyond their current performance. One of our greatest challenges as educators is to create such learning experiences for students on a daily basis.
Inquiry Essential Practices
At Langley, our goal is to continually refine and deepen our instructional practice. We know that clear, common language around our approaches allows us to collaborate at a deeper level and examine our current instruction with fresh eyes. When this happens, students are provided with rich, challenging, and supportive learning opportunities that allow them to build their mastery over the course of their years at Langley.
Inquiry at Langley involves five practices – which we call our Inquiry Essential Practices – that are essential to student learning: community building, investigation, modeling, practice, and feedback.