Inquiry based learning is a learning and teaching method that puts children in the driving seat. Lessons are steered by student questions, ideas and findings. Read more how this method of learning is applied at the Australian International School Malaysia.
The teachers at the Australian International School Malaysia (AISM) love this way of working and inspiring the children in their classrooms.
How does inquiry based learning work?
Recently, its Early Learning Years children investigated the story of “The Three Little Pigs”. Students read the story together and then compiled a list of questions using a thinking routine – compass points. This focuses their question and thinking.
- N – asks what do we need to know?
- S – what steps can we take to find out?
- E- what’s exciting and interesting? and
- W – what worries us?
After making their brainstorm notes, the children then can explore how they can discover the answers to their curiosities. In this instance, they investigated the use of different materials to build mini houses and then try and blow them down. As part of the Reggio philosophy, they ventured between the indoor enquiry to the practical outdoor investigation.
Danielle McPherson, Foundation Class Teacher at AISM spells out for us what a typical day is like, for an Early Years student in her class.
“This term the children in Foundation travelled the world (virtually) to investigate other countries and their cultures. To promote their inquiry we began with all sorts of accessories from home that came from other countries, children told us stories of the countries they come from and built a bank of questions they wanted to investigate. One of the popular routines for building their inquiry is “See, Think, Wonder – what can I see? What do I I think? What questions do I have?” This leads the students on a powerful journey of inquiry based on what they want to know – their curiosities! Throughout all learning a key component of inquiry is that they are constantly being encouraged to question, compare and articulate their thinking.”
What happens on Wild Wednesdays?
“In the Early Learning Centre, one of the children’s favourite days is Wild Wednesdays. On these days the children pull on their boots and gloves before they head out to explore the school and to track down mini-beasts. This started because after reading “The Hungry Caterpillar” story, the children had an insatiable appetite to know more about caterpillars – which lead to looking at lots of insects and bugs! This was followed with building their own vegetable garden, including experimenting with compost and worm farms.
However, it’s not just the teachers that witness the positive impact that inquiry based learning can have, even on those of an early age. One of the parent’s of an Early Years AISM student believes that it has really helped her son become an active and curious member of his class. She has seen how it allowed him to take ownership of his learning, as he became engaged and motivated to explore new ideas on topics he felt passionate about. She then saw how his knowledge grew and so too did his confidence.
Katie Stoney, a parent who has children in the Junior School at AISM: “For them it was a fun and interactive opportunity to engage with new areas of research that made the learning enjoyable, but at the same time it allowed them the freedom to express their new found knowledge in so many different ways” .
It’s all about excitement in learning!
It’s clear that both teachers and parents of AISM students are strong supporters of inquiry based learning, but Early Years expert Danielle was keen to leave us with an example of how it makes the children in her class feel. She shared with us the students’ reaction to the ‘our family is special’ inquiry unit.
“Seeing the sense of pride and excitement learners get when they share about their family, who is a part of their family and where they are from is priceless. Inquiry based learning allows learners to explore all sorts of ideas and questions under an umbrella topic, express their thoughts and develop an understanding of the world around them. The children are able to make connections across different subjects and develop cross curriculum skills with the ability to transfer skills and information to make sense of the world. The children love it because inquiry is all about excitement in learning and passionate discovery where they get to chase their curiosities!”
If you are curious to find out more about inquiry learning or want to explore the AISM campus from the comfort of your own home via a virtual tour, you can do so by clicking here. Alternatively, you can contact a member of the friendly Admissions Team on 03-8949 5000 or email them here.
Open Week from 19 to 23 April
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AISM is the most established Australian curriculum provider in Malaysia. For more than 20 years, AISM that employs predominantly Australian trained teachers, has catered for children from age 3 (Pre-school) to age 18 (Pre-University). Located in a secure gated community in Seri Kembangan, AISM overlooks the picturesque South Lake of The Mines Resort City, a short drive from Kuala Lumpur City Centre.