Diving into Deep Learning

Building our Toolkit for Inquiry Learning

The Background Story

My school is revisioning our future. We have been working toward co-creating a model of education, which takes the best of our strengths and using these to design and enact a new Learning Ecosystem.

Our vision is simple. What we want is…

  • All students will be experts in their own learning.
  • All students are known, advocated for, and supported.
  • All students personalize their learning and pursue dreams.

To do this, we simplified our learning and teaching focus into this DNA.

To become experts in their own learning, students need to learn deeply and engage in metacognition to understand how they learn. To become known, advocated for and supported, we need to develop strong positive relationships with our students as their mentors. To create an environment where students can personalize their learning and pursue dreams, we need to allow for personal trajectories; to honor every student’s language of learning, their approaches, the ways they express their understanding and demonstrate skills and character.

The path we have chosen tells us that inquiry-based learning is the way we must take.

So imagine my delight, when preparing to support teachers in understanding inquiry, I found Trevor MacKenzie’s book Dive Into Inquiry. Trevor’s illustration of the levels of inquiry gave me the idea that I could organize the two-day workshop around the levels of inquiry. Two sessions modeling each type, designed to take our workshop deeper into the learning.

In Sessions 1 and 2 we will splash around in a Structured Inquiry.
In Session 3 and 4 we will paddle through a Controlled Inquiry.
In Sessions 5 and 6 we will plunge into Guided Inquiry​
In Sessions 7 and 8 we will be diving deep into Open-ended or Free Inquiry.

Types of Inquiry by the amazing Trevor MacKenzie.

Why inquiry?

If we’re going to delve into concepts, competencies and character, we need to honor our diversity and start from the truth of each learner. We can’t do this through a one-size-fits-all approach. We need an approach to learning, which allows each learner to begin where they begin and allows them to journey through their learning with multiple entry points. The pedagogy that allows this personalization of each learner’s pathway is the inquiry approach.

Toolkit version 1.0

Let’s face it. Time is finite in a school. And so is energy. Our goal is to simplify the complexity of learning without reducing it to procedures, worksheets or a store-bought program that may not honor the diversity of our students.

We are just going to have to build it ourselves. And there’s a plethora of strategies available to us to co-construct a toolkit for inquiry. There’s the Visible Thinking Routines by Harvard’s Project Zero. We can experiment, try them out, have conversations around what works and what needs tweaking.

So this Toolkit is just the beginning. As we engage in our workshop on October 14-15, we’ll start to find out what works and what needs adjustment. We’ll experience for ourselves the aims of our workshop, which is built around our school’s DNA of conceptual learning, competency learning and character learning.

  • Teachers understand how concepts of constructivist learning are enacted through inquiry.
  • Teachers experience and draw upon skills to guide students with personal lines of inquiry.
  • Teachers become confident creators of environments and experiences for students to personalise learning.

I’m sharing the Toolkit with those of you who have expressed interest in taking a look. I hope we can share in the conversation and a “willingness to question all your own abilities, your knowledge, to become humble. Only then will you be able to listen to the child, to set off on a common search, to ‘educate each other together’.” (Loris Malaguzzi)

Please click on the cover to download the PDF of our learning guide.

Author: alavina

Cognitive Coach and author. I simplify personal power so you can use mental resources and find pathways to your goals, be more productive and feel in control every day.

7 thoughts

  1. So pleased with your approach. I wonder how much, if any, came out of our resolve for each teacher the following year to “adopt” a few of those resistant learners in grade 11 the year I left?

    Hugs, Ellen

    On Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 1:10 PM, The Learner’s Toolbox wrote:

    > alavina posted: “Building our Toolkit for Inquiry Learning The Background > Story My school is revisioning our future. We have been working toward > co-creating a model of education, which takes the best of our strengths and > using these to design and enact a new Learning Ec” >

  2. Again , another post that makes me wish I was there but also affirms me giving my students an example of being a life long learner and stepping out (jumping out?!) into my own inquiry driven project. Would love to be there to gain knowledge into how to move from guided inquiry (my comfortable and familiar place as a teacher) into free Inquiry! Hope all goes well in the workshop ! Thanks for the resources.

    1. Hi Christi, How’s the research going? When I was going through my process I learned to trust myself and to trust the process, especially when information led to more questions. There’s nothing like a beautiful question to set the pathways to beautiful answers. I suppose this is what we are teaching when we teach others to inquire. All the best in your journeys!

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