Guide to inquiry-based learning with examples blog

Guide to inquiry-based learning with examples

April 25, 2023Will Sullivan

What is inquiry-based learning?

Inquiry-based learning focuses on student choice and curiosity. It is more than just research, it is engaged in investigation into interesting and authentic topics. The main element of inquiry is student choice. Students are not told what they should research and how they should research it. They are given a broad topic, like the Civil War, and told to find something that interests them, create a research question, research an answer, and present it. The role of the teacher is to guide students through the process. Nearpod is a great tool for inquiry-based teaching.

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Guide to inquiry-based learning with examples

Nearpod has tons of K-12 lessons that are examples of inquiry-based learning. Here are a few of my favorites:

Draw It assessment for Exploring The US Declaration of Independence lesson for inquiry based teaching
  • Exploring The US Declaration of Independence (Grades K – 5th): In this Nearpod Virtual Reality (VR) Mini-lesson, students investigate the background and legacy of the Declaration of Independence, including its statement that all men were created equal. Students take virtual field trips and create a poster to share what they learn.
Exploring Ancient Empires virtual reality (VR) experience lesson
  • Exploring Poetry in Nature (Grades 6th – 8th): In this VR lesson, students will strengthen their poetry skills as they learn how authors use sensation and emotion in poems. Students will explore various scenes through virtual reality experiences as inspiration for writing their own poetry.
  • Exploring Ancient Empires (Grades 9th – 12th): In this VR lesson, students learn about the world’s great empires as they explore the ancient ruins of Egypt, Greece, China, and the Inca Empire via virtual reality and make predictions about values and daily life at the time. (Mature References)
  • Exploring World War II (Grades 9th – 12th): In this VR lesson, students will explore the modern-day sites of major turning points in World War II. Through virtual explorations, students will evaluate decisions made at each turning point and learn how they impacted the outcome of the war.

Follow along with the following tips using the lessons above.

1. Students pick a topic

The students must first have an idea of what sort of topics are available to them. The teacher can guide the students through this process by giving them a choice on which Nearpod they want to use. For example, if students are engaged in inquiry about the Civil War, the teacher can present a few different Nearpod lessons to students (important leaders, battles, slavery, strategies, etc.), allowing students to choose which presentation they want to work through.

The first helpful application is the Student-Paced feature. This feature allows the students to move through the presentation at their own pace. Students choose which of the presentations they want, and then they get started.

At the end of the presentation, the teacher can include an Open-Ended Question that asks the students to pick a more specific topic (if students chose an important leader presentation, by the end, maybe they have picked Lincoln).

The teacher could also use Collaborate Board to encourage discussion. Students could post what their questions will be and receive feedback from their peers. Inquiry-based learning activities need peer engagement about topics.

Collaborate Board example about good citizens

2. Students research the topic

Once students pick their topic, they must research it. The teacher can design a self-paced presentation that helps them through the process. Each slide can be a different task. The presentation can include:

Web pages with good research sites (reliable sources)

Examples of inquiry based learning using open-ended assessment questions
  • A link to the student’s Google Drive so they can load sources they find or take notes
  • Open-Ended Questions that ask students to write about the sources they find
  • PDFs of a teacher or student’s examples of writing and research
  • Poll Questions that check to see how students are doing with the process
  • Great opportunity to use the Add Activity or Whiteboard feature

This step is the most challenging for students and requires the most teacher guidance.  Formative Assessments made available through Nearpod (polls, open-ended questions, etc.) can make it much easier.

3. Students present the topic

Inquiry-based teaching challenges students to learn about something that interests them, and then take it a step further to teach their peers about what they learned. After the students write their research paper, the teacher can create a PDF and transport it into a Nearpod.

Next, students can move through the presentation at their own pace, reading the papers written by their peers.

Finally, the teacher can create a Quiz, Time to Climb, or Open-Ended Question section at the end that asks the students about what was in the papers or what they learned. This will ensure students not only read the papers but that the papers taught the students what it was supposed to.

Students playing Time to Climb on their devices while the game is on the projector

4. Enocurage reflections

It is important for students to learn from the inquiry process itself. Teachers can ask:

  • What worked and did not work?
  • What did they find most challenging?
  • What would they do differently next time?

A Collaborate Board can be great for this. It gives the teacher some insight into the concerns and challenges of the students and lets the students receive feedback from their peers.

Use these examples of inquiry-based learning on Nearpod

We hope you’ll be using these tips in your classroom! This guide can be used for inquiry-based teaching across all K-12 subjects. Inquiry-based learning is a powerful teaching strategy, and tools like Nearpod can help teachers facilitate it effectively.

New to Nearpod? Sign up to access these resources, interactive activities, and more!

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