Student Inquiry

Promoting a Culture of Why

5 Essential Questions to Promote Student Inquiry

#1. What do you think?

This question interrupts us from telling too much. There is a place for direct instruction where we give students information yet we need to always strive to balance this with plenty of opportunities for students to make sense of and apply that new information using their schemata and understanding.

#2. Why do you think that?

After students share what they think, this follow-up question pushes them to provide reasoning for their thinking.

#3. How do you know this?

When this question is asked, students can make connections to their ideas and thoughts with things they've experienced, read, and have seen.

#4. Can you tell me more?

This question can inspire students to extend their thinking and share further evidence for their ideas.

#5. What questions do you still have?

This allows students to offer up questions they have about the information, ideas or the evidence.

Rebecca Alber- Edutopia

Inquiry Approach vs. Curriculum Coverage


Comprehension and Collaboration 2009
by Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels, (Heinemann, Portsmouth,NH)

  • Student voice and choice
  • Questions and concepts
  • Collaborative work
  • Strategic thinking
  • Authentic investigations
  • Student responsibility
  • Student as knowledge creator
  • Interaction and talk
  • Teacher as model and coach
  • Cross-disciplinary studies
  • Multiple resources
  • Multimodal learning
  • Engaging in a discipline
  • Real purpose and audience
  • Caring and taking action
  • Performance and self-assessment

  • Teacher selection and direction
  • Assigned topics and isolated facts
  • Solitary work
  • Memorization
  • As if/surrogate learning
  • Student compliance
  • Student as information receiver
  • Quiet and listening
  • Teacher as expert and presenter
  • One subject at a time
  • Reliance on a textbook
  • Verbal sources only
  • Hearing about a discipline
  • Extrinsic motivators
  • Forgetting and moving to next unit
  • Filling in bubbles and blanks