Engaging learners in environmental inquiry in the farm, streams,
ponds, and forest classrooms of Cheakamus Centre is one thing, but how
do we as educators provide learning experiences that support
environmental inquiry back at school?
Educators can use a variety of strategies to stimulate interest and
engage learners in inquiry-based learning in their school and
Help learners connect a topic to their lives
Learners are keen to explore a topic when they appreciate its
relevance to their own experience. Ask learners to bring in an object
related to the current topic and connect it to an aspect of their lives.
Take your class outside
Learners need meaningful opportunities to explore their local
environment. A short walk around the schoolyard, neighbourhood or nearby
park, can be a starting point for investigating their natural and human
Activate prior knowledge
Questions emerge as learners describe what they already know about a
topic. Begin an inquiry by asking learners to draw or write about what
they know about the topic, and then bring the class together in a
Knowledge Building Circle. At this point, ask the learners, “What are
you interested in learning more about?”
Provide opportunities for children to observe natural phenomena
Children are naturally curious! Introduce living examples of natural
change both in and out of the classroom. I notice…I wonder…It reminds
Pay attention to spontaneous questions
Spontaneous questions give clues about the thinking processes and
interests of learners. Note these questions as they come up and bring
them to the group for consideration.
Provide hands-on experiences
Hands-on experiences can be engaging and inspire many observations
and questions. Plan to facilitate a wide variety of experiential
learning activities in a variety of learning environments.
Start with simple questions
The simplest questions have rich potential to provoke deeper
thinking. Highlighting children’s questions does not preclude an
important role for educator questions as well.
Revisit related questions or topics from previous inquiries
Questions posed in a previous inquiry sometimes relate closely to a
current area of study. Revisit points of interest from past learning as
an entry points for further questioning.
Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition: A Resource for
Educators. The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Children’s
Environmental Inquiry by Doug Anderson, Julie Comay and Lorraine
Chiarotto. 2017. P. 29-33