Inquiry is a flexible approach to learning that is driven by the natural curiosity of students to question, explore and make sense of their world. Talk is an essential component of this process. In fact, the competencies in the Québec English Language Arts programs are so inextricably intertwined that reading, writing/producing, thinking and talk are all enriched when students are engaged in inquiry.
The inquiry process is a key part of the Talk competency. Through inquiry, students are engaged in authentic learning experiences where they can build on prior knowledge and understandings, and work with peers to explore authentic questions, issues and problems. The process is dynamic, reflective and recursive. As students work through the process, they:
tackle real-world questions, issues, problems
develop questioning, research and communication skills
collaborate with peers and others
develop skills and deepen essential knowledge e.g. in literacy
move beyond simple memorization
adapt and apply what they have learned
share new ideas and knowledge with others
Inquiry allows us to provide open-ended experiences and investigations that enable students to enter at their own readiness levels. It is a flexible approach that ranges from the creation of a classroom Wonder Centre to problem-based projects, to action research and ethnography. There are many inquiry models that can be used or adapted by the teacher. Although the teacher’s role is different from more traditional models, the teacher plans and guides the learning, providing support as needed.