A look at inquiry in the PYP

I wonder: A look at inquiry in the PYP

I wonder when you have been an inquirer in your personal life or you job? When we stop to think about it, this happens all the time. From planning vacations to learning new tech skills to answering our children’s endless stream of questions – we inquire all the time!

As a one of the IB learner profile attributes, the IB defines an “inquirer” as: “We nurture our curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. We know how to learn independently and with others. We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning throughout life.” Inquiry is much more than just research and asking questions.

Inquiry is also to leading pedagogical approach of all three IB programmes as the IB states that, “The IB believes that this is the way in which students learn best.” The MIS definition of learning also aligns with the IB’s stance on inquiry – particularly in that at MIS we feel learning happens best when it is experiential in that the cycle of experiencing, reflecting, observing, conceptualizing and experimenting/playing is fundamental to the inquiry process.

In the PYP, a dynamic inquiry cycle supports us in our units. One of the leading writers on inquiry, Kath Murdoch has an inquiry cycle that we use at MIS. The steps of her published inquiry cycle – tune in, find out, sort out, go further, reflect, act – are terms that many of our learners are familiar with. Through our units, we inquiry with the support of this dynamic structure to build approaches to learning (ATL) skills and gain knowledge, as well as develop conceptual understanding and learner profile attributes.

A Dynamic Inquiry Cycle

So, what do inquirers do at MIS? This approach is summarized by the IB in the following “Inquiry Approach” graphic. Take a moment to read the boxes and reflect:

  • How do I do these each and every day?
  • How does my child observe me doing these?
  • How have I observed my child doing this in virtual learning?

How can I support my child in inquiry?

  • Wonder/inquire together – Spend time wondering together! Although children have many questions, why not find out together and make some connections to questions that interest both of you? Spark that love of learning to show you enjoy inquiring as well.
  • Spend time in nature – Nature has so many wonders; this is often a space where our wonders begin.
  • Develop an inquiry mindset – Reflect on the graphic above and consider how you approach questions. How could you have more of an inquiry mindset?
  • Do not know the answer – Show your child that you do not know the answer to everything! That is part of the excitement of being an inquirer – there is so much to know and it is fun to find out, make connections and apply that knowledge.

The following are three great website that could provide a starting point for your inquiry into inquiry!

  1. Wonderopolis – A great site with kid- and parent-friendly videos and wonders of all kinds.
  2. The Kid Should See This – An awesome collection of a range of kid-friendly videos that really spark wonder in us all! This could be a place to spark inquiry.
  3. Ted Ed – A great series of videos made for kids on a wide range of concepts. There is a section for parents to explore their resources based on your child’s interests.

Happy inquiring and look forward to next week’s blog highlighting inquiry in action in the primary at MIS!

Carla Swinehart

PYP Coordinator

Works Cited

International Baccalaureate Organization. Digital Toolkit. 2005-2020. 15 November 2020.

International Baccalaureate Organization. PYP Playlist. 2018. 15 November 2020. <https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/international-baccalaureate/PYP+Playlist/index.html#/page/5c5d69f2ec43cb21c9233814>

International Baccalaureate Organization. PYP: From principles into practice. “Programme Resource Center.” October 2018. MY IB. Online. 4 August 2020.

Murdoch, K. Kath Murdoch’s website Freebiees. 15 November 2020. <https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55c7efeae4b0f5d2463be2d1/t/5dcb82551bdcf03f365b0a6f/1573618265386/A+MODEL+FOR+DESIGNING+A+JOURNEY+OF+INQUIRY.pdf>

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