Promoting Deep Thinking and Understanding
Richland Academy is the leading inquiry-based learning school in the province. Inquiry-based learning promotes deep thinking and understanding through the development of rich tasks that address a number of curricular expectations. A rich task also sparks creativity and curiosity, and this, in turn, prompts thoughtful questions from children that further drives the learning.
Research tells us - and we know from actual experience here at Richland - that inquiry-based learning works with even very young learners. Consider this example from our Bambini Grande 2 class of 3 to 3.5 years olds.
The teaching team decided to explore the concepts of big, medium, and small with the children. To make this a rich learning task they decided to incorporate an outdoor educational component and have the children collect leaves for later sorting.
While the children were sorting the leaves by size the children observed that the leaves were also different colours. So when they completed the initial sorting task, they sorted again by colour. As they were displaying their leaves on a sorting rug the children observed that the leaves were different shapes. The last time I spoke to the teaching team the students were going to move ahead and sort by shape.
In a traditional school the teachers would likely have decided how they were going to teach the concept of size, developed an activity to facilitate that learning, and then they would have moved on to something else once that task was completed. In this example of inquiry-based learning the teachers had an initial plan, and then they extended and added additional layers of learning in response to the children's observations.
The sorting activity completed by the Bambini Grande 2 students may seem like a simple exercise, but it is actually a very rich task. It addressed the curricular areas of:
- Expression (mathematical concepts of sorting and grouping, new vocabulary and growing communication skills)
- Engagement (exploring the outdoor world, creative thinking, problem-solving, and innovating)
- Belonging (forming relationships with others, being part of a community, recognizing connectedness to the natural world)
Head of School