Unit of Inquiry- Conceptual Learning

Unit of Inquiry- Conceptual Learning
  • Blog By
    Ms. Vidhya Devi
    Secondary Staff – Cambridge International (Social Science, Global Perspectives , Economics for AS & A)
    The Indian Public School – Salem.
    April, 07 2022 | In Blog

What is Inquiry?

We at TIPS care for the last part of the adage which gives us the spirit of inquiry-based learning. Inquiry leads to involvement with an understanding of a concept. In general, Inquiry implies possessing skills and attitudes that will lead to a solution of a question or issue. Creating a thinking classroom helps students move from the factual to the conceptual.

Learners are free to think conceptually. Naturally, it is not an easy job for every learner as they have different perspectives. It is challenging for the teachers on how to construct thinking classrooms where students can move from the factual to the conceptual level of thinking?

A unit of inquiry is a 6 to 8-week module, where it explores the in-depth concept as a continuous and comprehensive approach in the PYP programme. Learners will inquire about the central idea of the concept being guided by teachers’ queries and lines of inquiry. While understanding the unit’s central idea, students also learn particular elements from core subjects, Viz. Language, Mathematics, Arts, Science, Social Studies, Art, and Music Physical Education. Students will be able to form a connection between what they are learning and how it is related to the real world.

Why inquiry?

We have chosen the inquiry approach to make the learners develop the skill of inquiry learning.
• The importance given to the students’ interests
• Learning progresses across and beyond subject areas
• Perceives learner’s prior understanding
• Develops learner’s interpersonal and higher-order thinking skills
• Engaging the learners to know and solve real-world issues
• Develops learners’ sense of responsibility
• Is fun and engaging.

Connecting real-life scenarios to events strengthens the students’ conceptual understanding across subjects that enable them to transfer their learning and draw meaningful inferences. They develop a broader understanding of the world being a citizen and gain the opportunity to connect them with their learning, and experience and enable their voice to shine through.

As an IB school, our mission is to develop well-rounded students with character who respond to challenges optimistically and with an open mind, link real life in their education to extend their learning. Learners are prepared to apply what they learn in day-to-day life in complex and unpredictable situations. There is no ‘one size fits all approach in inquiry. It’s about the process, the roles, the responsibilities, and the most important part is….. it’s about the learners’ learning journey – students…and the teachers.

Unit of inquiry makes the children learn the following attitudes in the Continuous and Comprehensive Approach.

• Appreciation
• Commitment
• Cooperation
• Creativity
• Curiosity
• Confidence
• Empathy
• Enthusiasm
• Independence
• Integrity
• Respect
• Tolerance

Planning the Unit of Inquiry includes The Central Idea, Lines of Inquiry, Learning engagements, The inquiry cycle, skills and learner profiles Resources, Teacher Questions and Provocations, Student inquiries and actions and extensive Reflections on teaching and learning, continuous ongoing assessments.

Trans-disciplinary Themes:

Each year, all students inquire into the following trans-disciplinary themes:
✓ Who we are
✓ Where we are in place & time
✓ How we express ourselves
✓ How the world works
✓ How we organize ourselves
✓ Sharing the planet

Each unit of inquiry recognizes a central idea of a major concept and in turn, breaks it down into specific lines of inquiry. The learners undergo evaluation based on the continuous and comprehensive approach for each module.

Action and reflection:

Each unit will teach us two important ideas about inquiry:
✓ Conceptual learning among the children.
✓ Facilitators guide the learners to express their understanding by opening multiple gateways.

Facilitators believe in constructivism, which helps a mind to construct a new thing based on the learners’ experiences with the central idea. Inquiry and constructivism go hand in hand as the learners build upon their previous knowledge and experiences. For example, during an inquiry in year 5 under the transdisciplinary theme: Sharing the Planet, our central idea is Conflict and Peace; Recent wartime. We simplified the central idea to the learners by giving some examples that connect to their daily life. We were excited that many children came up with the information on the Ukraine – Russia war crisis. Finally, the learners initiated the action on the theme “Sharing the Planet”. In order to help Ukraine students, our Salem PYP team organized a fundraising programme on our campus. Unit of Inquiry helps the learners to learn about globally significant issues and it fosters the learners to devise an action plan which is feasible for that issue.

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