The importance of questions

As grade three journeys through the inquiry cycle for our fourth unit of inquiry- natural conditions and human activities can lead to extinction- we are analyzing and evaluating our new found knowledge through the use of questions. These questions have been both teacher and learner-generated, and have helped us gain a deeper understanding of our central idea, lines of inquiry, and our key concepts.

Why questions are important?

While there is a big difference between questioning and inquiry, it is important to note an inquiry is often driven by questions. And, not all questions are created equal.  In our third grade classroom, our questions are deep and open-ended. We do not use closed-ended questions, such as Are animals extinct? Instead, our questions are broad, such as Why are animals extinct?  These provide room for learners to seek answers and ultimately lead to more questions.

Questions spark curiosity. As the questions are asked, our inquiry gets deeper and sometimes is guided in a different direction.  As a result, questioning leads to great learner agency and flexibility within the classroom.

Students and teacher have posed questions:

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How are questions used to gain a deeper understanding?

Through questions, learners are not being told the information they need to know.  Instead, they are active participants, creating their own understanding.  As a result, the learners are analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating the knowledge they are seeking out.  Ultimately, learners get to actively engaged with the information, making the learning deeper, meaningful, and longer-lasting.  As studies have shown, “We retain 75% of what we do compared with 5% of what we hear and 10% of what we read” (What is Inquiry-Based Learning (And How it is Effective?)).

After being asked questions or asking their own, students share what they have found out:

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Articles about inquiry and questioning:

10 Questions for Inquiry: The Bigger the Better!  

What is Inquiry-Based Learning? 

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