One of the things I have read about is the importance of kids getting to talk in the classroom. If it is an inquiry based classroom it stands to reason that the voices being heard should be that of the students. Our school is a PYP school that offers “guided inquiry” and it is the guided part that is really important. The role of the teacher is ever-changing, yet one of the key tasks is to move conversations along. To facilitate discussions, to guide inquiries.
The following guide is very comprehensive and offers loads of strategies that move (as opposed to blocking) conversations forward:
The TERC also has a checklist that teachers can use to deepen the discussions:
One of the best practitioners I have seen when it comes to kids talking is Tasha Cowdy. Tasha and I worked together at Yokohama International School. She was a kindergarten teacher and like no other teacher I have ever seen before when it came to really listening to her children, moving them forward, and guiding their inquiries. I would love for everyone to see her teach to get a feel for what guided inquiry really looks like. It is amazing. You can get a brief feel via her blog.
If I could sum Tasha up in one word, it would be:
Tasha responds to her students. She doesn’t try to get ahead of them in her planning but takes the time to listen while they talk and responds to them where they are at in their understanding. She listens and she acts – but she is not reactive. Her actions are considered, measured, timely, and responsive.
That is the key when it comes to creating discussion and dialogue in classroom. The students have to feel like their is a point to their participation (not just to please you and give you the answer you want and already know). When classrooms are responsive and children’s conversations are key to moving inquiries forward, then we have a true inquiry classroom.