Concept driven inquiry learning…

There’s a buzz in the room as 11 year olds sit in groups around large sheets of butcher paper, talking animatedly. I like visiting this classroom, seeing how the two teachers collaborate and the children engage in their learning.

Today they are brainstorming the ‘big ideas’ in ‘Sharing the Planet’, one of the trans disciplinary themes in the PYP curriculum framework.

In the build-up to this, students have watched David Attenborough’s Wonderful World and made connections with the trans disciplinary theme –

‘Inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and other living things; communities and the relationship within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.’ (IB Primary Years Program)


Their ideas include concepts such as environment, sustainability, pollution, responsibility, nature, society, economics, lifestyle, consequences… I’m impressed by the depth of their thinking, their ability to extract the conceptual ideas and the way they make connections with prior learning.

The teachers introduce the idea of biodiversity, a concept to which they haven’t been exposed before, without explaining it or doing any ‘teaching’. The students get the iPads and do their own exploration, in any way they like. They are encouraged to read, look at images, watch videos – the choice is theirs.

Later in the day I go back to ask how the learning unfolded…

At the moment people are only thinking about what they should do, but not doing it. As this generation, it is our responsibility to take care of the planet for further generations. (Michelle)

I would like to inquire into all living beings’ rights.I want to know why different people/animals are treated differently and what the consequences are. (Zara)

I want to know how the loss of animals and plants affects the world and our life because if I don’t know what difference it makes, I won’t know how to change my habits. (Noa)

I should be aware that a little mistake can make a big difference. I would like to inquire into how we can make the world equal and fair so everyone has a home/habitat. (Zoe)

I want to know what will happen to the animals if we keep polluting the earth and taking the land because if there are no animals it will affect human life. (Stella)

And this one…

If we don’t share the planet and make a difference, there won’t be a future for us to live in… (Josh)

8 thoughts on “Concept driven inquiry learning…

  1. Beautiful learning going on in this classroom, Edna! This kind of learning is so powerful. This year I’m a substitute teacher, and I can’t believe how much drilling of facts, followed by tests, I still see. It’s disheartening, but thank you for sharing the message!

    To a better future,


  2. The ease with which we can now invite students to ‘explore’ through the use of iPads and other devices has taken inquiry to a new level…and means instant differentiation. Love the honouring of learner choice in this – and the big ideas of course!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s