#Deepen Teacher Inquiry - Hack No 5b

What Makes An Inquiry?

How do I know its a new inquiry?

Earlier this week I wrote about when do we know an inquiry is a new inquiry, and I tabled the idea of long-term Inquiry vs Multiple Mini Inquiries.


Long - Term Inquiry

Broad Question
Reactive Strategies
Floppy evidencing
Multiple focus points at a time
"I'm doing this, and this, and this in the hopes that it helps..."


Multiple Mini Inquiries

Chrisp Question
Proactive Strategies
Sharp evidencing
Single Focus
"I'm doing this - measuring its impact - before I try that..."

I am a firm believer in if you want different results you need to do something different. You cannot just do what you have always done - even if you do it harder or faster. You will always get the same results.

So here is how that idea fits with you inquiry quesiton.

Making the connection to your inquiry question

Your question for your inquiry can help focus and ground your inquiry if it is specific and to the point. A specific question for a teacher inquiry consists of what strategy you are going to use and how you are going to measure the impact of that strategy.
In fact, it has a strategy, evidence, sample element to it.

For example: 

  • How does the use of SOLO rubrics (strategy)  to develop success criteria in year 12 chemistry (sample) impact on student learning (evidencing)?

  • Will a repeated hands-on activity in groups/or pairs (strategy) improve student understanding and use of art terminology (evidencing) in Level one art (Sample)  compositional analysis.

  • Does the use of unpacked learning outcomes (strategy) with year 10 Science students (sample), have a more significant impact on the results of reflection and review of exam questions (evidencing)?

Designing a specific question for a teacher inquiry allows you to sharpen your inquiry sword and drill down rather than go broad.

The exploring: questioning phase is where teachers explore what they know to identify the learning gaps of their students, ideate what’s sticking to get deep into what’s happening with the learning for the students, look for clarity and come up with a specific, sharp, inquiry question.

An inquiry should be about the impact of one strategic change made by the teacher and its impact on students learning.

Questions like these keep a teacher inquiry focused. I have found that without a carefully crafted inquiry question, teacher inquiries tend to explode outwards to epic-sized projects that put teachers into overwhelm.

2.0 Deepen Teacher Inquiry BOOK 2 -maps and models.jpg

As a general rule; whenever you change one of the three things - strategising, evidencing or sample - it can be technically thought of as a new inquiry. I often find teachers are in a state of overwhelm about their inquiry. The inquiry has been framed up as a sizable project that runs across many, many months and they don’t know where to start.

So here is one way to unpack teacher inquiry. Reflection in action and inquiry is something we do all the time in response to the learning needs of our students.  In the case of an inquiry, our actions become more deliberate and connected to the learning of our students because we have wondered and questioned with intention and made decisions about strategy and evidence that will enable us to know the impact more deeply than a quick formative assessment ever could.

So when you change one of these three things - you can think of it as a different inquiry. The reason why it is considered another inquiry is that you are changing one of your main variables when you change the strategy, evidencing or sample, making it a different test than what you started with.

Go Well.....

Tabitha Leonard