Our Top Ten Lists (Inquirers we love)

Top Ten Inquiry Books

1.     Teaching as a Subversive Activity

Neil Postman & Charles Weingartner

The original inquiry manifesto written decades ago; also, the most dog-eared book in my education library. Still.

2.     The Power of Inquiry

Kath Murdoch

Written by one of the most accessible writers and creative inquiry-based practitioners today.

3.     Teaching with Your Mouth Shut

Donald L. Finkel

My favorite book on inquiry to recommend to college-level professors.

4. The Best Class You Never Taught

Alexis Wiggins

By the creator of Spider Web discussions (and daughter of late education thought leader, Grant Wiggins).

4.     A More Beautiful Question

Warren Berger

Berger is a lovely storyteller and compelling question-asker.

5.     Choice Words

Peter H. Johnston

A practical, inspiring book on why what we say matters.

6.     Children’s Inquiry

Judith Wells Lindfors

Dr. J.W. Lindfors’ fascination of how students theorized about the world was ahead of its time.

7. Guided Inquiry

Carol Kuhlthau, Leslie Manolitis, Ann Caspari

One of the best process and research-backed guides for implementing inquiry.

8. Dive into Inquiry

Trevor MacKenzie

Brimming with practical ideas and a positive ‘can-do’ attitude about inquiry.

 9. Redefining Smart

Thom Markham

A terrific treatise from an internationally-focused, PBL pioneer.

10. Syllabus

Lynda Barry

The jaw-dropping artistry of a born inquiry teacher. 

Top Ten Inquiry Videos and Podcasts

1. Teach Teachers to Create Magic, Chris Emdin

Professor from Columbia Teachers College urges educators to learn from those who students learn from outside of formal education environments; pedagogical magic can be taught!

2. Five Principles of Extraordinary Math Teaching, Dan Finkel

This talk is nothing short of revolutionary. Each of the five principals are relevant to every inquiry classroom, regardless of subject or grade level. Dan’s radio-style voice alone is worth a listen.

3. The Power of Ummmm…, Kath Murdoch

A compelling look at the environments that foster true curiosity (“wonder bubbles”) and how to create them in the most unusual of places: the classroom. Part of this talk includes a short video of students’ wonders; super cute!

4. What’s the Value of a Teacher, Alan November

The rejoinder for this title should be “What’s the value of a teacher…in an age where information is plentiful, cheap and easy to come by?” Alan is an incredibly entertaining speaker on the importance of teaching media literacy skills.

5. Who Owns the Learning? Most Likely to Succeed film

Watch anxiously as a group of new ninth graders begin their first day in an inquiry-based setting. Observe how their teacher sets up a Socratic Seminar asking students to immediately take charge of their own learning.

6. College Lectures are about as Effective as Bloodletting, Carl Wieman

Dr. Wieman is a Nobel Physicist from Stanford and he doesn’t mince words. Powerful evidence that active, student-led learning works.

7. Three Rules to Spark Learning, Ramsey Musallem

A chemistry teacher shares the life-threatening experience that saved him from “pseudo-teaching” for years.

8. Oracy in the Classroom, School 21, London, England

Watch as students learn to share ideas, back up their claims, and speak with purpose with sophistication rarely seen at such a young age.

9. School in the Cloud, Sugata Mitra

Innovator places a computer inside a wall in India. Magic unfolds as children in the village use the power of their own curiosity to make this contraption work.

10. Caine’s Arcade, Caine Monroy

Watch a 9-year old create an elaborate arcade at his dad’s auto parts store. Then cry with joy as the community comes to play!

Top Ten Inquiry Organizations

1.     Math for Love

Math for Love teaches mathematics in its whole context. Mathematics begins by playing… with games, puzzles, patterns, shapes, numbers, structures, rules, and ideas. From there, you observe and ask questions. Owning your question leads to the rest: refinement, searching for solutions, discovering the connections that allow you to not just solve but understand your problem, and finally, rigorous writing and presentation of your solution.

2.     Galileo Educational Network

The Galileo Educational Network creates, promotes and disseminates innovative teaching and learning practices through research, professional learning and fostering external collaborations.

3.     Liberating Structures

Liberating Structures are easy-to-learn ‘microstructures’ that enhance relational coordination and trust. They foster lively participating in groups of any size, making it possible to include and unleash everyone. Liberating Structures spark inventiveness by minimally structuring the way we interact while liberating content or subject matter.

4.     Youcubed

Youcubed’s goal is to inspire, educate and empower teachers of mathematics, transforming the latest research on math into accessible and practical forms. Based on the latest research on how to teach math well and how to bring about high levels of student engagement and achievement.

5.     Visible Thinking

Visible Thinking has a double goal: on the one hand, to cultivate students' thinking skills and dispositions, and, on the other, to deepen content learning. This means curiosity, concern for truth and understanding, a creative mindset, not just being skilled but also alert to thinking and learning opportunities and eager to take them.

6.     ThinkLaw

ThinkLaw helps educators teach critical thinking to all students using real life-legal cases. They offer tools, guides, and coaching based on real-life cases. They find that the law’s Socratic questions methods make it easy for teachers to ask questions that build student critical thinking skills. “Critical thinking should not be a luxury good.”

7.     Edutopia

Supported by Lucas Education Research, Edutopia is dedicated to transforming K-12 education so that all students can acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to thrive in their studies, careers, and adult lives. Founded by innovative and award-winning filmmaker George Lucas in 1991, they take a strategic approach to improving K-12 education.

8.     Critical Thinking Consortium

The consortium’s aim is to work in sound, sustained ways with educators and related organizations to inspire, support and advocate for the infusion of critical, creative and collaborative thinking as an educational goal and as a method of teaching and learning.

9.     Guided Inquiry Design (GID)

GID helps students to think critically, make informed decisions and know how to use the information available to learn new information and ideas, in order to create new knowledge. GID leverages the massive research from inquiry researcher and thought leader, Dr. Carol Kuhlthau.

10.  Authentic Education

The mission of Authentic Education, founded by the late, great Grant Wiggins, is to make schools better by providing clients with state-of-the-art educational thinking, tools, and training.

Top Ten Inquiry Blogs

1. What Ed Said


A prolific and concise blogger, Edna Sackson writes from the perspective of an International Baccalaureate (Primary Years) coach and elementary level inquiry-focused practitioner. Founder of global community blog “Inquire Within” (inquiryblog.wordpress.com).

2. Teach Thought


“It is our position that all learning should result in substantive personal and social change (as opposed to academic training).” Chock full of terrific podcasts from practitioners and thought leaders. Type “inquiry” in the search bar and have at it!

3. Mind/Shift


This San Francisco-based public news organization dedicates staff to smart journalism in education innovation. This is my ‘touchstone’ site for carefully-researched innovations.

4. Cult of Pedagogy


Teacher nerds unite through this stylish blog and podcast created by Jennifer Gonzalez. You can learn how to pronounce the word “pedagogy” here!

5. Atelierista


Teacher Anna Golden documents her studio-style classroom with early learners, providing transcripts, photos and easy-to-digest ideas. Poetic!

6. Just Wondering


Kath’s wonderings are provocative, honest and refreshingly clear-eyed. She frequently shares her journeys to inquiry-based schools around the world, and actively solicits feedback from her community of readers.

7. Time Space Education


Thoughts on “Being purposeful, working from within, seeking simplicity, being timely, making friends with curriculum, understanding the power of mood, making space, and pursuing wisdom.”

8. Innovative Inquirers


International inquiry teacher, Cindy Kaardal, does a terrific job of sharing how she manages time in an elementary classroom that favors student agency and integrates technology. Lots of fun photos to complement the text.

9. A Teacher’s Evolving Mind


A brave and unabashedly honest look at teaching, policy, and politics written by an award-winning teacher.

10. Chunk, Flip, Guide, Laugh


Nancy Bacon offers a structure to create learning programs that respond to how people learn – and motivate them to take action. 

But don't just take our word for it...

Why Talk Is So Important In Classrooms Fisher, Rey and Rothenberg (2008) 

“Vygotsky (1962) suggested that thinking develops into words in a number of phases, moving from imaging to inner speech to inner speaking to speech. Tracing this idea backward, speech—talk—is the representation of thinking. As such, it seems reasonable to suggest that classrooms should be filled with talk, given that we want them filled with thinking!”


Why Is Talk So Important For Learning? Ambitious Science Teaching (University of Washington, 2015)

“Talk is a form of thinking. Research in linguistics and social psychology show that people do not engage in talk merely to communicate something they already know. Rather, to prepare to talk means that one has to formulate what might be relevant to say, but these mental formulations are never very explicit until one begins speaking. In this way, thought is often constructed simultaneously with speech. Speech is a vehicle for all forms of reasoning: comparing ideas, elaborating on them, critiquing them, relating them to everyday experiences, the list goes on and on. Students who get practice at this become better learners, both individually and as a class. It is sobering to think that in many classrooms, students sit, nearly silent, as their teachers do all the talking—and that this experience may literally go on for years.”


Talking to Learn: Dialogue in the Classroom Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) Digest (2009)

“Research into talk in classrooms has demonstrated that, even though students’ talk serves vital developmental and learning functions, frequently teachers do most of the talking and children do not often have the opportunity to officially engage in talk that extends for more than a few seconds. For example, research conducted by Smith, Hardman, Wall and Mroz (2004) found that in the typical classroom:  Open questions made up 10% of the questioning exchanges and 15% of the sample did not ask any such questions. Probing by the teacher, where the teacher stayed with the same child to ask further questions to encourage sustained and extended dialogue, occurred in just over 11% of the questioning exchanges. Uptake questions occurred in only 4% of the teaching exchanges and 43% of the teachers did not use any such moves. Only rarely were teachers’ questions used to assist pupils to more complete or elaborated ideas. Most of the pupils’ exchanges were very short, with answers lasting on average 5 seconds, and were limited to three words or fewer for 70% of the time.”