Aligning Guided Inquiry with the A+ Philosophy

Guided Inquiry Design is a method of teaching that relies heavily upon teacher flexibility and student personal interest. Many veteran teachers have said, during or after their GID training, that “this is how we used to teach!” As I have learned this process along with other ongoing professional development, it has been interesting to compare and see where GID overlaps with other teaching philosophies and methods.

One important characteristic of my school, Monroe Elementary, is that we are an A+ School. This means that we have some basic tenets that provide a framework for the things we do. For example, one of the A+ Essentials is Arts at the core. This means that we integrate the arts into our teaching as often as possible. Another example that identifies an A+ school is focus on collaboration.

Teaching in an A+ school makes it easy to integrate Guided Inquiry, because so many of the key philosophies overlap. One of the most important tenets of A+ is Enriched Assessment. This means that assessment is more meaningful than paper and pencil tests. It is assessment through multiple pathways, such as creating a project to share what is learned. This is just one area where A+ and Guided Inquiry fit together perfectly!

This chart shows some of the overlapping areas between A+ and GID:


A+ Characteristic

Guided Inquiry Design

A+ and Guided Inquiry Implemented Together

Enriched assessment

Evaluate

Project based learning

Arts at the core

Create

Student freedom to be creative

Multiple Learning Pathways

Third Space

Flexibility in students’ choices of inquiries and creations

Collaboration

Extended Guided Inquiry Team

Teachers work together to plan and implement instruction

Infrastructure

Time and flexibility

Students have time to spend in Open, Immerse, Explore

Climate

Ownership, Third Space

Connection to students’ real life is valued

Experiential learning

Hands on experiences

Open, Immerse, Explore give real life experiences

Curriculum

Focus on standards

Standards are taught in meaningful ways


As you can see from the above chart, Guided Inquiry and A+ work well together! When our 1st grade teachers and I were at the Guided Inquiry training, we were building a unit over space science. The unit template includes sections on “Overarching Learning Goals” and “Five Kinds of Learning.” Our team didn’t even have to stop and ponder what this meant, we said, “This is just A+!”

Guided Inquiry is a model that fits with so many other effective teaching methods. GID units can be elaborate research projects for high school and college students. They can be beginning research projects for primary students, and every grade and subject in between! Guided Inquiry is for everyone, and all it takes is some flexibility and willingness to adjust our thinking from traditional research to make the switch!

Trisha Hutcherson, M.L.I.S.

Monroe Elementary

Norman, Oklahoma

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