What is Inquiry?

Inquiry is a way of teaching (a "pedagogy") that gets students to do most of the question-asking and answer-seeking. The role of the teacher is to design and guide experiences (and an environment) that encourage student discussion, collaboration, and critical thinking. 

Inquiry teaching is an ancient teaching practice, however its practice is still rare in today's K-12 classrooms. There are many reasons for this, but times are changing. More and more teachers are realizing that inquiry is a more effective, evidence-based way to build 21st C learning skills. Inquiry also puts the cognitive demand and learning responsibility on students, where it belongs. Most importantly, inquiry builds strong emotional bonds and breathes joyful curiosity into classrooms.

The following five strategies ("Inquiry 5") form the backbone of our work:


Get Personal

“Let me tell you a story...”
“Share your thoughts with a partner...”
“What’s your experience with this?”



Stay Curious

“I wonder...”
“Here’s a question I still have...”
“I’m not sure about that; what do the rest of you think?


Ask More; Talk Less

“Tell me more.”
“Explain that idea to your table.”
“Why do you think that?”



Encourage Evidence

“How do you know that?”
“Where did you find that information?”
“How do you know that information is accurate?


Extend Thinking Time

“Before we discuss, let’s take a moment to think about this.”
“Let’s stretch before diving in."



Listen to these teachers reflect on their own understanding of inquiry: