Inquiry Based Learning
In OPEDUCA Inquiry Based Learning is based on the ongoing research- and question driven learning process of pupils and students. A process starting out from their identification and basic study of future relevant themes.
The Inquiry Based Learning process directly intertwines with the aspect 'real life learning' and 'community based learning' as students for a larger part and eventually most of the time thoroughly study a theme in all its aspects, taking in facts, practise and experience from outside their school and textbooks.
Inquiry Based Learning in OPEDUCA is incorporated to its full extent in the 'Flight for Knowledge' Program Element.

Inquiry Based Learning in OPEDUCA is about the unrelenting question 'Why?'. First with their eyes then later when they manage to speak, this is the most elementary signal one can utter, the base of learning itself. Although many (let's be real, most) schools drifted far away from honoring the Why, it is where students in OPEDUCA start with and never let go of again. They further develop this essential aspect of being human, enrich it with skills and competences and keep it in their system for the rest of their lives.

Jos Eussen

The 'Why' is about the for parents sometimes nerve-wrecking daily practice when dealing with their sprouts. Giving answers is hard to hold on to. A sight of relief when the awaking mind can be handed to teachers at least for some part of the day. And then? Will the little 'want to know all' then find itself in a warm bath of answers, discovery and further Why's or will it turn out that the learning for the moment is parked away in a school?

In OPEDUCA, especially in Flight for Knowledge, the Why is leading, always, in every issue a student encounters or wishes to discover. In an OPEDUCA-based school the teachers have to deal with it, or better, they should be jumping with joy given so many questions they can answer instead of pushing data and pieces of information at a crowd of kids (called a 'class') for which quite some (if not hardly all) didn't ask.

In OPEDUCA all subjects and issues students learn on are connected, intertwined, part of a logical whole in which pathways of learning are discovered and researched by the students. Compare the neural structure of our brain. Typically students, great to be observed in puberty age, 'run from left to right, back and forth, up and down' in their thinking and acting - they 'jump around', often not focused on one thing, at least giving the impression to be occupied by everything at once and not concentrated. They are (like younger students also) however masters in associating - a quality, as teachers building OPEDUCA note with some regret, the average educator has lost along the way. For Inquiry Based Learning however the quality to link, re-link, associate, combine, connect is essential. And far away from subject driven instruction practice.

Inquiry approaches… are highly dependent on the knowledge and skills of the teachers engaged in trying to implement them… It takes significant pedagogical sophistication to manage extended projects in classrooms so as to maintain a focus on “doing with understanding” rather than “doing for the sake of doing”. (Barron and Darling-Hammond, p.215).

Dumont, H., D. Istance, and F. Benavides (eds.), (2010), The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice. OECD Publishing, Paris.
"By doubting,
we come to inquiry,
by inquiry,
we perceive the truth"

Peter Abelard (1079 - 1142)

Why Inquiry Based Learning is Worth the Trouble

Nearly seven years after first opening its doors, the Science Leadership Academy public magnet high school* in Philadelphia and its inquiry-based approach to learning have become a national model for the kinds of reforms educators strive towards. But in a talk this past weekend at EduCon 2.5, the school’s sixth-annual conference devoted to sharing its story and spreading its techniques, Founding Principal Chris Lehmann insisted that replicating his schools approach required difficult tradeoffs.

“This is not easy. This is not perfect,” Lehmann told a crowd of devotees stuffed inside one of the Center City school’s second-floor science classrooms on Sunday. “There are really challenging pieces of this, and we should be OK with this.”
Lehmann’s 90-minute question-and-answer session tackled coming to terms with the impact of a shift to inquiry-driven learning by defining three steps: the enigmatic meaning of inquiry-based learning; the visible changes that signal a shift to that approach; and the potential drawbacks that shift may surface. Lehmann said it’s important to question whether alleged “personalized,” “project-based,” or “collaborative” learning efforts are actually helping students and teachers to “hold ourselves in a state of questioning.”

For example, adaptive software that leads students through English/
language arts or mathematics on a pace set by their own abilities fails to force students to ask questions about that material, contextualize it in real life, or communicate about the concepts with others, Lehmann said. The same is true of collaborative projects where restrictive guidelines result in several, nearly-identical finished products across student groups.

In a true inquiry-based model, how learning happens isn’t as important as whether that learning encourages students to try to learn even more. Lehmann compared the scenario to the plight of a two-year-old child who has graduated from “yes” and “no” and proceeded onto an endless string of “why’s.”
“To me it comes down to process,” Lehmann said. “Inquiry means living in the soup. Inquiry means living in that uncomfortable space where we don’t know the answer.”

Signs you're on the right track

Although nailing down inquiry-based learning is a bit like trying to define the human soul, there are some indicators Lehmann and his audience both agreed signaled progress down the right path. To paraphrase one teacher, a classroom where students are empowered to direct and control their own learning is one sign. Feeling tension between the direction of a course and the material covered on a standardized final examination may be another, said a second teacher. “Oh God, yeah,” Lehmann said in response to the latter teacher. “There’s a reason we don’t offer [Advanced Placement] Classes here. If we are a truly inquiry-based school, why would our highest-level classes end in a test?”

Increased collaboration between students and increasing student scrutiny of educational content were two other signs Lehmann and the group said signaled the right approach, even if they clashed with classroom norms. For example, collaboration can often lead to tricky discussions about what part of a students’ work are his or her own and what part is recycled.

Lastly, good inquiry-based learning should include a means for publication and communication, whether through blogs, printed reports, multimedia packages, etc. But Lehmann also said, in some cases, students should have the right to decide whether to publish their work.

“One of the scariest things about inquiry-based learning is the blank page,” Lehmann said. “When you’re toying with the ideas at first, sometimes your ideas don’t have to be social to the world.”
Chris Lehmann
Tracy Sali
Inquiry-Based Learning Scares Me!

I had an interesting conversation with a couple colleagues at a workshop about inquiry in Full Day Kindergarten.

When I have a chance to connect with kindergarten teachers about Inquiry-based learning some say to me, "I'm new to this, I have no idea what I am doing" or some will say "I'm old school kindergarten and I find it hard to wrap my head around inquiry in my class".

What I want to say is this...

It gets better.  I remember my first year teaching FDK thinking " I have NO idea how to teach kindergarten".  What does it mean by "Inquiry?"  "These kids don't even know how to wonder!!" And they didn't. 

I taught in an inner-city school and many of these kids were lucky to come to school on time and some may have even had breakfast! They didn't have the schema that other students are lucky to have.  But I didn't let it stop me.  I just meant I had to work harder at helping these students develop the curiosity that was innately there, but that wasn't activated because of a lack of background knowledge from home.

So... I did what I thought was needed.  I taught them how to wonder.  I realized that a "theme" like Thanksgiving wasn't very good for wondering, so I thought about "What would be something kids could be curious about?" 

Once I saw what my kids wondered about: pretty ponies, cats, lego (and every other small toy or cute animal), I looked for what "big ideas" I could find in the things the students found interesting. And then I taught my students HOW to wonder.

It was painful.  Trust me.  It took various ways of "So, did you mean...", "I think you might be curious about...", "What do you think about..." but EVENTUALLY it got easier.  The first few inquiries may not be even close to what you want them to be.  But all I can say from experience, it does get easier! Trust in the process :)

As you give inquiry learning a try, pick and choose what you want to start with.  Make some aspect of your inquiry a "must" and then go from there.  Start with a small goal... maybe a wonder wall, maybe a wonder table... maybe a centre that is student directed where you release more of the control and you adopt the facilitator role vs giver of knowledge.

Also, take a look at the FDK curriculum and look for the chart I condensed in an earlier blog on the Stages of Inquiry.  Understanding the stages definitely helps to understand how inquiry-based learning happens in the classroom.

This is my 3rd year teaching FDK and I just now feel like I know what I am doing.  It's not that I wasn't a capable teacher... we all have specified training to make is professionals, but it's a learning curve.  Don't be afraid to get messy.  Don't be afraid to take a risk.  And if that risk doesn't work... try it again.  Reflect and retry.  Talk to others. Contact me!!!  I would love to share my experiences with my readers in a more personal way.

I found the more I tried, the easier it got.  Taking time to teach how to wonder, worked wonders!
And for me, I learned little by little how to release my control and show my students how to be more in control of their learning.

It will never be perfect, but the learning will be theirs and that's what will keep the level of engagement high.

Good luck!
Tracy Sali      

"Learning by inquiry is an attitude to life, where the very essence of this involves involving the individual in a problem and from this perspective, must provide solutions. Within the learning environment, the teacher wants the teacher to help the students to express all these great ideas through questions and constant inquiry. In addition, students should search with interest, penetrating the bottom of ideas, developing that capacity of amazement before reality, analyzing, understanding and reflecting. These conditions allow the inquiry-based approach to facilitate the active participation of students in the acquisition of knowledge, to help develop critical thinking, problem-solving ability and skill in science and mathematics processes; Essential elements to become a pedagogical practice to develop learning approaches by projects.

Instruction based on inquiry occurs in three ways, these are given on a continuous basis:
a) Teacher-directed inquiry.
B) Teachers and students as co-investigators.
C) Student-directed inquiry.
Students learn to learn when they develop the following skills: observation, reasoning, critical thinking, and the ability to justify or refute knowledge. This process is also because creativity and curiosity are stimulated, as well as controlling their learning.

In order to foster the learning of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values ​​consistent with MET, ABI can contribute to:
1. Promote innovative knowledge through interdisciplinarity. Bearing in mind that at present the activity of researchers is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary, throughout his studies, the student will develop the ability to innovate, not be a mere player, but a producer of knowledge.
2. Develop critical thinking. With an ethical and cognitive sense, this aspect is fundamental for a scientific attitude that favors objectivity and tolerance.
3. Develop the ability to research and learn in a self-directed way. Through research, students will develop skills that allow them to build knowledge, while becoming an active part of their own teaching-learning process.
4. To increase the sensitivity and perceptual capacity of scientific, humanistic and socio-cultural phenomena. The student in his training process will enrich his intellectual horizon, deepening his understanding.

Amar Socont
Profesora de Educacion Basica : jubilada en forma anticipada por asuntos de salud.

10 Benefits Of Inquiry-Based Learning

Trevor MacKenzie - Canada

Nurture student passions and talents
Empower Student Voice and honor Student Choice
Increase Student Motivation and -Engagement
Foster Curiosity and a Love of Learning
Teach Grit, Perseverance, growth mindset and self-regulation
Make research meaningful and develop research-skills
Deepen understanding to go beyond facts and content
Fortify the importance of asking good questions
Enable Students to take ownership of their learning and to reach their goals
Solve the problems of tomorrow in the classrooms of today

In OPEDUCA Flight for Knowledge students' learning is entirely based on Inquiry Based Learning, combined with Community Based Learning, taking in the essentials of Personalised Learning and leading a way to the relevance of their studies through Problem Based Learning.