Inquiry-Based Teaching

Oakes, Constance

Topic:  Educational Theory and Practice (ET)

Bibliographic Citation: Kohn, A. (2013, October 29). A dozen essential guidelines for educators. Retrieved from Alfie Kohn website:

Summary:  An article by Alfie Kohn, an author, and lecturer on education and parenting. This is a short listing of the core principles used in progressive education that nicely explain what an inquiry-based or project-based classroom should look like and what it shouldn’t.  

Evaluation/Opinion:  I find this article/list to be a great way to quickly get an understanding of how inquiry-based learning works and looks.  I like that it does say it is messy. I think it also lets teachers see that it can be a shift out of their comfort zone as their thinking and teaching will change as they move into an inquiry-based program.

Inquiry Based Teaching

Joffe, Stephany


Inquiry Based Teaching: The Inquiry Approach. (2019). The Teaching Channel, Retrieved from:

Summary: This 3 minute video from The Teaching Channel covers teacher collaboration, student inquiry, and student’s voice. A group of high school teachers discuss the inquiry model and diversity of students. Then, the video illustrated student inquiry, collaboration and student’s voice where the students are discussing Lincoln.

Evaluation: This is an excellent video example of what can be accomplished with teacher collaboration, student collaboration and the inquiry model.

Is It Project-Based Learning, Maker Education, or Just Projects?

Jess Peterson


Gerstein, J. (2013, October 22). Is It Project-Based Learning, Maker Education or Just Projects? Retrieved from

This article examines and explains the differences between PBL, Maker Ed, and just throwing in projects. The author makes the claim that most often, even though educators are attempting to tout their activities as PBL or otherwise, mostly, projects are really just an activity that follows direct instruction, and don’t include any form of inquiry whatsoever. She goes on to outline several conditions that must be in place in order for PBL to truly exist, and if all, or at least most conditions aren’t met, then you simply have a project, and inquiry is missing.

I liked this article because she was particularly blunt as well as clear about what makes something qualify as PBL versus what doesn’t. She carefully examines the conditions she claims are essential for PBL to occur, and thoroughly explains how educators can meet these criteria. I also really liked that she included several resources throughout, in case anyone needed or wanted further reading about the various subtopics she brings up.

For your consideration: An Outlier

Solomon, Samantha

Ullman, R. (2018). No, Teachers Shouldn’t Put Students in the Driver’s Seat. Teacher Teacher. Retrieved 26 September 2018, from

Summary: This opinion piece is written by Richard Ullman, a 29 year veteran of teaching in public high schools. In the piece Ullman defends the practice of teachings using direct instruction to communicate complex skills and concepts to students. He feels that the pendulum has swung too far towards a pedagogy based on “equat[ing] cosmetic engagement with actual learning.” He argues that educational trends are dictated and propelled by people who are removed from actual classrooms, and that as a result, the current trends around game-based learning and student driven learning actually don’t improve student outcomes. He points out that “even though the classroom looks dynamic, students appear to be busy, and the right boxes get checked during classroom observations, achievement gaps don’t close.” Ullman argues that traditional, teacher-centered instruction does work, but that confirmation bias causes experts to ignore the merits of this style in favor of chasing educational fads.

Evaluation: It’s not that I agree with Ullman’s strong preference for teacher-centered instruction, but I do think it is important to acknowledge what people who might be out of this moment’s mainstream might be thinking. I absolutely feel that there is a place for more traditional, direct instruction in classrooms and school libraries, but I also think that it has to be blended with more engaging, student-centered techniques to fully resonate and connect with students and truly enhance their learning.

What the Heck is Inquiry-Based Learning?

Van Duzee, Alyssa

ID (Inquiry and Design)

Wolpert-Gawron, H. (2016, August 11). What the heck Is inquiry-based learning? Retrieved from

Inquiry-based learning is something that can be difficult for teachers to do because it involves giving up power and control and allowing students to take the reigns. This articles breaks down the steps necessary to bring this type of design and learning into a classroom and library. It is a very basic overview, but it gives a good sense of what inquiry-based learning entails.

This would be a great article to have staff read at the beginning of the school year because it makes something that can become very difficult seem relatively easy. It breaks down the process into 4 manageable steps. If teachers were to get on board with this, it would make an easy transition into co-teaching and ultimately deeper and wider student learning.

Design Thinking Visual

Kinsella, Jason

ID (Inquiry and Design)

An introduction to design thinking. (2018). AARK Group. Retrieved from

This is the best visual I have found related to design thinking. This comes from AARK Group, which a consulting firm, not an educational organization. As teachers, we know the power of visuals, but visuals related to lesson design can often be confusing, especially for students. I think this visual perfectly explains the design thinking process, and teachers may want to use this as a guide when creating a visual to post in their classroom. What makes this visual so effective, in my opinion, is the full circle of arrows, then a smaller, second circle of arrows representing the “Evaluate” stage. This visually explains the iterative nature of design thinking clearly and simply. I have seen some confusing visuals for design thinking out there, but this one represents the idea perfectly.


Where does Alternative Education fit?

Matsuo, Kim

ID-Alternative Education

Edwards, B. (2017). Alternative education students earn graduation credits with guided inquiry design. Teacher Librarian, 44(4), 30.

Article explains how GID (Guided Inquiry Design) can be used in alternative schools.

This is really cool, because the standards and curriculums seem to be focused on the comprehensive schools, while there are a growing number of alternative schools for students who do not fit the traditional cookie-cutter of education. This article is a refreshing call to see how Inquiry Design crosses boundaries of education.

Inquiry-Based Learning – Curriculum Connections in the Library

Clem, Katy


Stripling, B. K. (2003). Inquiry-Based Learning. Curriculum Connections in the Library. Edited by Stripling, B. K. & Hughes-Hassell, S. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Barbara Stripling (of Stripling’s Model of Inquiry fame) authored the first chapter in this book written to connect librarians and educators as collaborators in education. She is a foundational thinker in inquiry-based education, and her words on the approach are a fantastic starting point for anyone approaching the subject.

This chapter is the BEST thing I read in my research for INFO 250: content-rich, based in a history of education theory, deeply inspiring, and full of practical applications that feel manageable. Tracking it down is a bit tricky; I found a used copy of the book on Amazon for $4, and every chapter is gold. SO WORTH IT.

Intentional inquiry vision, persistence, and relationships

Chapman, Sherry


Maniotes, L. (2016). Intentional inquiry vision, persistence, and relationships. Teacher Librarian, 43(5), 8-11.


This article looks at successful inquiry projects as a collaboration between a teacher team or department and the teacher librarian. It is very forward thinking and productive as well as reflective. They all work together, trust each other and create innovative units for students.

Maniotes says, “When we see the value of each other’s expertise, such as the librarian as the information professional, we can intentionally set up collaborations that present exciting ways to learn from one another and develop our own professional practice.”


This approach of training in the PBL model and creating collaboration before implementation is a fundamental component of implementing change in a district. I think this approach is both successful and impactful, and the vision and persistence to build relationships is key.

Adriana Lugo


Stripling, B. (2008) Inquiry-based teaching and learning—The role of the Library Media Specialist. School Library Media Activities Monthly XXV (1). Retrieved from 6/14/2017 /

Explains inquiry based learning as well as how librarians can collaborate with teachers as well as use it to define their collection and teaching.