Leander ISD is full of amazing teachers and staff that shape unique and wonderful learning experiences for students across our district. LEEF had the opportunity to stop by Tarvin Elementary to capture “inquiry-based learning” in action. Through a LEEF $3,000 grant, Tarvin purchased durable and reliable supplies for all their Kindergarten classrooms to enhance students’ purposeful play. As LEEF toured the classes, there were students creating habitats using wooden blocks, plastic animals, and additional craft tools to enhance what they are learning in their current classroom topic. “We’ve just seen all of our play come alive, and the kids being so creative” said Kindergarten teacher, Tiffany Keske. “You get to learn and make whatever you can” mentioned one Kindergarten student when asked how they enjoyed their time with the new materials.
Inquiry is using facts and observations of the world around you to answer questions. Inquiry-based learning is acting upon that basic desire to learn by encouraging and developing skills required for children to ask questions and seek answers through their curiosity. Inquiry based learning makes students become problem solvers that are in control of their own learning, and one the most effective tools to facilitate inquiry based learning are provocations. A provocation is an open ended activity that doesn’t have a prescribed outcome. Instead, it is designed to stimulate curiosity, collaboration, problem solving, and creativity for and amongst children, whether they choose to explore their ideas alone or as a group. Classrooms that incorporate inquiry-based learning have better results in students asking and answering questions, providing solutions to scientific problems, and overall, more control and success in their learning environment (İnanç & Sığırtmaç, 2021). Watching the students at Tarvin enjoy and learn through collaboration and fun was a wonderful experience.
The impact early childhood grants like this make on our students is to increase learner profile skills amongst our kindergarten students. Most notable is students ability to ask big questions, work collaboratively, and problem solve. “The student is in charge of their learning and in turn it can meet them where they are.”
SourceEti, İ., & Sığırtmaç, A. (2021). Developing inquiry-based science activities in early childhood education: An action research. International Journal of Research in Education and Science, 785–804. https://doi.org/10.46328/ijres.1973