Inquiry

Overview

Katandra School adopts the process of a guided approach to Inquiry Based Learning to engage the students in learning outcomes, enrich learning environments and aims to connect students learning to hands on, real world experiences.
At Katandra we implement a whole school approach to Inquiry based learning every term. All classes engage in the same Unit of Inquiry (UOI), however the investigations, activities and learning outcomes are levelled and age appropriately targeted to the students across the school. The units of inquiry are planned to incorporate a rotation of the various learning domains from the Victorian Curriculum and have an integrated approach to include outcomes from multiple learning areas.


To ensure that there is a broad interest approach for students and a scope for all learning domains are covered throughout the year, Katandra School has a 6 year Unit of Inquiry Cycle that explores a number of interests and covers all learning domains for the students. The 6 year cycle can be seen below.
The focus domain for each inquiry is evident in the unit of inquiry term planners. Other domains are also easily integrated through the units to ensure connections are made to students learning outcomes.

 

Intentions & Performance Guidelines

What is Inquiry Based Learning?

At Katandra, we believe Inquiry is a dynamic process of being open to wonder and puzzlement and coming to know and understand the world. As such, it is a stance that pervades all aspects of life and is essential to the way in which knowledge is created. Inquiry is based on the belief that understanding is constructed in the process of people working and conversing together as they pose and solve the problems, make discoveries and rigorously testing the discoveries that students learn in the course of shared activities over the term.


At Katandra School, inquiry becomes a study into a broad essential question that is then broken down into contributing questions that the students explore over nominated weeks throughout the term.  For our students the focus is to explore, investigate and actually undertake many activities to create or build knowledge. For our students at Katandra, inquiry involves serious engagement and investigation and the active creation and testing of new knowledge.

To understand inquiry based learning it can be viewed in several dimensions:
Authenticity                  
• The inquiry emanates from a question, problem or exploration that has meaning to the students.
• The inquiry study originates with an issue, problem, question, exploration or topic that provides opportunities to create or produce something that contributes to the student’s world of knowledge.
• The task/s require/s a variety of roles or perspectives.

Academic Rigour
• The inquiry leads students to build knowledge that leads to deep understanding.
• Students are explicitly taught, then provided with multiple, flexible ways to approach their learning.
 

 

The inquiry unit encourages students to develop thinking skills and habits of mind that encourage them to ask questions of :      
• Evidence (how do we know what we know?)
• Viewpoint (who is speaking?)
• Pattern and connection (what causes what?)
• Supposition (how might things have been different?)
• Why it matters (who cares?)

Assessment
• On-going assessment is woven into the design of the unit of inquiry providing timely descriptive feedback and utilizes a range of methods, including peer and self-evaluation. Assessment guides student learning and teacher’s instructional planning.
• The unit of inquiry provides opportunities for students to reflect on their learning, and if possible using clear criteria that they helped to set. The students use these reflections to set learning goals, establish next steps and develop effective learning strategies.
• Teachers, peers, adults from outside the classroom and the student are involved in viewing the assessment of the work.

Beyond The School
• The unit of inquiry requires students to address a semi-structured question, issue or problem, relevant to curriculum outcomes, but grounded in the life and work beyond the school and into the extended community of Katandra School.
• The unit of inquiry works on personal & interpersonal skills scaffolding explicit opportunities for students to develop organisational and self-management skills in order to complete the learning journey.
• Inquiry teaches and encourages students to acquire and use competencies surrounding team work, problem solving, communications, decision making and self-management, which are life skills needed for day to day living.

Use of Digital Technologies
• Technology is used in a purposeful manner that demonstrates an appreciation of new ways of thinking and doing. The technology is essential in accomplishing inquiry tasks.
• The unit of inquiry requires students to determine which technologies are most appropriate to the task.
• The inquiry process teaches and encourages, students to conduct research, share information, make decisions, solve problems, create meaning and communicate with various audiences inside and outside the classroom.
• All Inquiry units make excellent use digital resources. Such as: Ipads, Laptops, Camera’s, Video recorders and other forms of multi-media.

Active Exploration
• At differentiated levels and capabilities students are introduced to spending significant amounts of time doing field work, design work, experiments, interviews, studio work, construction, design etc.
• The inquiry journey at Katandra requires students at their level to engage in real, authentic investigations using a variety of media, methods and sources.
• The study requires students to communicate what they are learning with a variety of audiences through presentation, exhibition, website, wiki, blog, etc. This is done at the celebration of learning in the final week of term.

Connecting With Experts
• Through various units of inquiry students gain opportunities to observe and interact with adults with relevant expertise and experience in a variety of situations. This will be in the form of incursions or excursions.
• The tasks are designed in collaboration with expertise, either directly or indirectly. The inquiry requires teachers to collaborate with one another and with students on the design and assessment of the inquiry work.

Elaborated Communication                    
• In various forms of communication and capabilities, Students have extended opportunities to support, challenge, and respond to each other’s ideas as they negotiate a collective understanding of relevant concepts.
• With explicit scaffolding from teachers at Katandra, Students have opportunities to negotiate the flow of conversation within small and large group discussions.
• Students have opportunities to choose forms of expression to express their understanding.
• The inquiry provides opportunities for students to communicate what they are learning with a variety of audiences.