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5 Strategies for Creating an Inquiry-Based Classroom

How can you activate the curiosity in students’ minds and get them excited about learning new topics or subjects? Meet inquiry-based learning, the teaching strategy that triggers your students’ curiosity and helps them develop their engagement and enthusiasm for learning.

What is inquiry-based learning?

From the Academy of Inquiry Based Learning, inquiry-based learning, “or IBL for short, is a broad range of empirically validated teaching methods that emphasize (a) deeply engaging students and (b) providing students with opportunities to authentically learn by collaborating with their peers.”

Inquiry-based learning lets students decide what they want to learn about a particular subject and gets them to ask questions about things they aren’t familiar with. This type of learning helps educators to personalize the content their learners are receiving, enabling them to make it truly meaningful to students. Rather than just firing facts and statistics at your class, use these five strategies to help you build an inquiry-based classroom.

1. Don’t always answer questions from students

It may be tempting to just answer the questions that your students have about a lesson, but true learning isn’t about being spoon-fed the answer. Reply to student questions with questions directed back at them, and ask other peers to participate in the conversation. Additionally, you can show your students how to research the questions they have and arrive at their own conclusions. It’s not always about just finding the answer to a question—it’s about how a student reaches that conclusion.

2. Spend more time on projects and less time on lecturing

While a lecture or direct, teacher-led instruction can be effective, it’s not always the best way for students to learn. Be honest with yourself—how many lectures do you remember from your own schooling? You probably don’t recall many. But, how many projects do you remember? Project-based learning can be the best way to help activate the curiosity that lies dormant in the mind of your students.

3. Accept that no two classes will be the same

Assessment and understanding come in many shapes and sizes. If you teach multiple classes at the same grade level, understand that no two classes will be alike. Different groups of students learn in different ways, and that is completely fine. You may feel like one set of students is getting behind or ahead of another group with this approach, but if you keep track of what each class discussed, you’ll find you’re still able to fill in the learning gaps in upcoming lessons and allow each group of learners the time they require to develop necessary learning.

4. Include and encourage time for reflection at the end of every lesson

Reflection is an important part of growth for both you and your students. Encourage your students to take time to answer the following questions so that they can begin to self-reflect on how they learn best: What helped me to learn this concept best? What didn’t help me learn effectively? What did I enjoy learning about? You can tailor future lessons and projects based on these findings.

5. Learn alongside your students

In this type of classroom environment, you may need to relinquish a little control to allow students to shape the learning experience. Encourage collaboration, communication, and participation. Take this time to step back and observe how your students are learning while you maintain a clear set of learning objectives that you want your students to meet.

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