Inquiry for All
As you explore the possibilities, keep in mind that inquiry is for all students and teachers across content areas.
Read Thematic Instruction from NETC.
Curriculum Development and Inquiry
In books like Schools that Learn, Howard Gardner stresses the importance of discipline-based learning. He notes that investigation of the key issues of humankind can be explored with increasing complexity as students spiral through the curriculum. Each content area provides a unique opportunity to explore essential questions about universe topics such as good, evil, love, and hate. According to Gardner, K-12 education helps young people become comfortable with the "intellectual core" and allows them to explore ideas from multiple perspectives.
According to Barbara Stripling in Curriculum Connections through the Library (2003, p. 20), "although Gardner recognizes that the questions that students ask often go beyond discipline boundaries, he presents a strong case that students need to use discipline-specific ways of thinking to discover in-depth answers to their questions and make sense of the world. Answers to scientific or mathematical questions need to be based on truth about the natural world, derived from scientific theories and evidence. Scientific answers, though, are essentially different from historical conclusions. Investigation in history are based on interpretation and point of view, and they involve human motives and conditions. The social-science perspective leads to judgments about right and wrong, cause and effect, problem and solution, based on analysis of the evidence and recognition of the human context for every situation. The arts perspective uses imagination, thoughts and feeling to communicate about the experience of beauty."
In 1975, the Ontario Ministry of Education developed a set of guidelines for developing curriculum. They included the following questions (Brown, 1991):
- Will it give children the opportunity for direct inquiry, independent study, and creative ability in the context of their own interests, abilities, and developmental needs?
- Will it fulfill their needs to explore and to manipulate?
- Will it satisfy the search for patterns?
- Will it relate to what the children already know?
- Will it be sufficiently novel to stimulate questions, observations, and manipulations?
- Will the children be able to see what they are learning as part of an organized and meaningful whole?
- Will it spring from real experiences in the children's environment?
- Is it appropriate to each child's level of development?
- Will the children be able to know when they've been successful?
- Will it provoke questions, involvement, a desire for further exploration?
- Will it encourage learning through play?
- Will it provide experiences with qualitative relationships?
- Will the content provide opportunities for various techniques of investigation?
- Will it be socially useful?
Also, consider the wide range of learners in a school including both special needs and gifted inquirers.
Read The Forgotten Partners in Special Education: Teacher-Librarians in Teacher Librarian (April 2010, Volume 37, Issue 4, p. 65-69). (IUPUI password required for access)
Read Gifted Readers and Libraries: A Natural Fit in Teacher Librarian (February 2010, Volume 37, Issue 3, p. 32-36). (IUPUI password required for access)
According to Barbara Stripling (2003, p. 21), "curriculum in an inquiry-based classroom, then, is based on essential ideas and ways of thinking in different content areas. Curriculum is 'uncovered' rather than 'covered' as students ask questions and actively investigate the answers. Although the key content ideas remain as a stable framework for each disciplne, the path to those ideas is constructed by each learner and guided by the teacher."
We often focus our efforts on the curriculum areas where we feel most comfortable, but it's important to think about inquiry across the curriculum. According to Barbara Stripling (2003, p. 21), "if teachers and librarians plan to integrate inquiry throughout the curriculum, then some thought must be given to the ways inquiry differes in the different discipline areas."
Read The Role of a School Library in a School's Reading Program by Elizabeth Marcoux and David Loertscher in Teacher Librarian, October 2009, Volume 37, Issue 1, p 8-14.
Be sure to explore the following pages in this section: