Inquiry as an approach to learning has been part of the curriculum at Elsternwick Primary school for several years, with staff working closely with international expert and consultant Kath Murdoch. Her current publication, ‘The Power of Inquiry’ is the main text referenced by teachers when planning.
Inquiry teaching and learning emphasises the need for learners to be; curious, independent, self – aware and active, which in turn promotes higher order thinking and deep contextual understanding.
Teachers plan around the content of the Victorian Curriculum (History, Geography, Science, Health, Civics and Citizenship, Design, Creativity and Technology) using the E.P.S Through lines (Identity, Science and Technology, Citizenship and Social Responsibility and Environmental Sustainability) as conceptual organisers. A cycle of Inquiry is followed, where learning is scaffolded according to the needs of the students.
The Learner Assets, skills and dispositions foundational to learning for life are embedded across the curriculum, meeting the General Capabilities disciplines within the Victorian Curriculum. The five assets are: Research, Collaboration, Communication, Thinking and Self – Management.
“I”-time (introduced in 2013) is all about the individual student, their passions, wonderings and asset development. This time provides the opportunity for each student to challenge and stretch their learning in the quest to discover what they need to enhance, to become a SUCCESSFUL, INDEPENDENT LEARNER!
The most significant and repeated observation by all teachers involved is that the students look forward to and are highly engaged in the weekly ‘i-time’ (Years 3 – 6) / Discovery time (Years Prep – 2) sessions. One of the key purposes of ‘i-time’ / Discovery time is to have students motivated and passionate about their learning by having the opportunity to pursue things that interest them and spark curiosity. The underlying purpose of ‘i –time’ is about the students ‘learning to learn’.
Discovery time investigations for students in years Prep, One and Two are structured around negotiated contexts, student driven but criteria based. The teaching focus is on Asset (skill) development (social, emotional, cognitive).
i-time investigations for students in years Three, Four, Five and Six provide opportunities for personalised inquiry which is student driven but negotiated with the teacher. In Years 3 – 4 the emphasis is on developing independence, planning and research. In Years 5 – 6 the emphasis is on connecting to concepts and significant content.