Student understanding is the central focus of inquiry learning. Students actively participate in inquiry learning experiences by developing questions and investigating to find solutions. Teachers facilitate learning as students engage in active problem solving, the construction of meaning and the communication of new understandings to students, teachers or other important adults.
Teachers guide student learning by selecting, designing and planning learning tasks, asking probing questions, observing students at work to identify misconceptions and planning follow up experiences. Well constructed tasks allow students’ entry to the problem from different points, encourages divergent thinking and engages students in thinking like an expert in the field (mathematician, scientist, and historian).
Though inquiry learning is a component of all areas of the curriculum, mathematics and science is the focus of the elementary inquiry lessons. These content areas lend themselves to students asking questions and investigating as they develop a deep understanding of the concepts developed. Elementary teachers who attended the 2010 Collaborative School Teams Teacher Leadership Institute began creating the lessons in mathematics and science that can be found here.