Why Inquiry-Based Lessons?

Why Inquiry-Based Lessons?

You’ll notice quickly that I do not create lessons or activities that do not require some sort of inquiry or critical thinking process.  Throughout my years of teaching students have always said things like, “Ms. Moody, why don’t you just give me the answer?”  It makes me laugh because I realize that no I don’t make it easy by giving them the answer. I don’t mind because I know that the strategies that I teach students will help them in the long run.

In this world of instant information, our teaching and learning methods MUST change.  Students, when they want to find out information, can get the knowledge immediately.  The way we gather information has changed so must our teaching methods.

2 Things to Realize about Inquiry-Based Lessons

1.In order for a student to desire knowledge they must first realize that they are lacking something: it could be a skill or a piece of knowledge that is required to complete a task. 

When students realize that they NEED information for a task the higher the probability of knowledge retention.  Think: a teenager can memorize every detail of a video game but refuses to memorize science facts for their test.  This student has realized that they must know certain facts in order to complete a task that they are interested in, so they are much more motivated to find and remember the information.

Don’t we want students to retain the information that we give them? Don’t we want them to be able to build skills in order for them to survive without us?

2. The second benefit to an inquiry-based lesson is that it can be closed enough to teach a skills but open enough for the students to build on knowledge that fits their individual need.  

Let’s take a vocabulary lesson as an example.  During a traditional vocabulary lesson, the teacher provides the words, asks students to look up definitions and then provides a multiple choice test on the words. The students generally memorize the word definitions for the test in their short term memory and can probably not have productive knowledge of the word (they can’t use it to make a sentence).

In an inquiry-based lesson, the students are asked to identify unknown words and are taught reading comprehension strategies to use in order to use the text’s information for a specific purpose.

We know that as students move up in education, they won’t always be given a vocabulary list, so shouldn’t they instead be taught the strategies they need to fix their individual needs?

What can inquiry-based lessons teach students?

  • Reading Comprehension Strategies
  • Sentence Writing Strategies
  • Essay Writing Strategies
  • Critical Thinking Strategies
  • Editing and Revising Strategies
  • Research Strategies
  • Vocabulary Strategies
  • Speaking Strategies
  • Rhetorical Analysis Strategies
  • and more

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