As part of the Lower School’s effort to learn more about the shared inquiry approach, Tai Hart, a 5th grade Humanities teacher at Westminster School, led an effort to bring the Great Books Foundation to campus to run a daylong workshop on shared inquiry in our February 2019 In-Service Day. Twenty teachers attended and had a very positive learning experience.
The idea behind the shared inquiry approach is to engage students in deeper conversations about the literature they read. In addition, another goal is to find ways to integrate both fiction and nonfiction literature into a class. Shared Inquiry is a method of learning characterized by high-quality literature, a leader’s consistent use of open-ended questions, and a strong focus on interpretation of ideas. Shared Inquiry provides a framework for teaching reading comprehension, critical thinking, and writing. This deeper thinking about reading takes place in the context of students sharing their ideas about a great text.
I had the chance to visit Tai’s class and witness shared inquiry in action. It was fascinating to see 5th grade students engage in conversations in a deeper way. The open-ended questions, as well as Tai’s approach to stimulating student-to-student interaction, fostered students to go deeper into their thinking and talk to one another. I found the discussion interesting and revealed the capacity of younger students to engage in serious dialogue.
Shared inquiry is an instructional framework that teachers should consider adding to their toolkit.