Our classrooms are intentionally designed to promote inquiry-based learning. In our constructivist classrooms, our teachers listen closely to students, observing their ideas, theories, and questions, using them to design learning opportunities, classroom spaces, and units of study for the classroom community. Teachers act as facilitators, guiding student discussions to further their thinking. We emphasize questioning, and the students recognize that often answers lead to more questions. As we dive into a unit of inquiry, students often use materials to both develop and demonstrate their thinking.
In our primary grades (kindergarten through second grade), this might look like our students diving into inquiry through play, as teachers observe and document the questions children ask and the ideas they pose. Units of inquiry come from ideas posed in play, and these ideas are investigated and developed through play as well. This might look like work with a small group at a learning area or a whole-class investigation. In our upper-elementary grades (third through fifth grade), this might look like students diving into inquiry through discussion and/or work with materials. Teachers design both whole-group and small-group inquiries based off student interest and instructional standards. Students use materials to develop their thinking, just as they would in primary grades, and they are pushed to connect this work into factual, theoretical, and metaphorical knowledge.