Inquiry is the leading teaching and learning approach used at QUEST Elementary and in the IB. Students make meaning by wondering, exploring, creating, taking action, researching, trying, connecting, thinking critically and creatively, and reflecting. Teachers pose questions and problems, share artifacts and statements, and then challenge their students to make meaning and take action. Teachers at QUEST use guided inquiry (where the teacher chooses the topic/questions and students create a solution), shared inquiry (students follow the teacher’s lead and are involved in a class or group inquiry together), and independent inquiry (students choose their topic without a prescribed outcome.)
Examples of inquiry include making connections to previous learning, experimenting and playing with possibilities, investigating different viewpoints, collecting data and reporting findings, and clarifying existing ideas. In an inquiry-based classroom, there is less lecture and teacher directed learning, less fact-based memorization, and less isolated and disconnected subjects and themes. Instead, students are directly involved in the learning, with a teacher acting as a facilitator while students play with multiple solutions and possibilities. When students explore an idea, they are using thinking, research, self-management, social and communication skills simultaneously.
In an inquiry-based environment, students may be debating, asking questions about artifacts and photographs, or researching multiple points-of-view around one event/topic. They also could be creating or brainstorming, finding resources to back up an argument, or working in a group to simulate an event or experience.