Learning Through Inquiry
Inquiry describes a number of teaching and learning processes including:
At St. Mark’s, we strive to develop happy, resilient and confident children with a passion for lifelong learning. We aim to engage our students in a rich and relevant curriculum that caters for their needs in a 21st century setting. We do this by providing students with hands-on opportunities designed to build life-skills including; identifying problems and creating solutions, design and evaluation, developing questioning and reasoning skills, improved communication and co-operation skills while collaborating within and beyond the classroom. The Inquiry-based approach provides students with meaningful learning through shared experiences. As part of educating the whole child at St. Mark's we aim to instill lifelong learning dispositions within our students in our Inquiry and Discovery curriculum. The dispositions that are embedded within all that we do at St. Mark's are courage, curiosity, perseverance, collaboration, resilence, respect and being reflective.
Students in the junior years are given opportunities to develop and enhance their Inquiry skills through Discovery Learning. Discovery Learning is a time where students learn through opportunities to play, explore or investigate. The environment is designed to engage students in areas that interest them, as well as areas of the curriculum, in a developmentally appropriate way. The focus is on creativity, problem solving, literacy and numeracy skills, language development and social interaction. Students make choices, take risks with their learning and value mistakes as part of their learning journey.
Discovery begins with an introduction where teachers have an explicit learning focus that they share with the students. Students choose from a range of experiences that enable them to create, explore, imagine, problem solve, construct, collaborate, role-play, wonder, discover or invent. The dispositions of learning are interwoven within our Discovery curriculum and the children are always aware of which disposition they are currently working to improve during Discovery. The sessions culminate in a Share Time where students take turns to share, discuss and reflect on their learning. As students develop their capacity to manage their own learning, they will begin to plan and record their Discovery experiences.
The discovery concept is that when students are given the opportunity to learn something that has personal meaning, they become more engaged and motivated in purposeful learning. This provides teachers with the opportunity to support students in developing powerful dispositions and skills that are transferable across a range of contexts. Discovery Learning allows students to use their gifts and talents and all students have the opportunity to experience success.
Students in the middle and senior levels develop these skills through differentiated experiences, research, consultation with experts, excursions and incursions, observations, and trial and error, focusing on a particular topic. Our middle and senior students also partake in fortnightly Genius Hour sessions. The Genius Hour sessions allow students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. It provides students with a choice in what they learn during a set period of time. The sessions are fully structured by teachers and they teach students to become experts in developing skills and knowledge in areas that they are passionate about.
At St. Mark’s, Inquiry topics are cyclical, based on a two-year calendar. Topics include:
Term 1: Identify, Wellbeing and Relationships
Term 2: Science and Discovery
Term 3: History, Tradition and Change
Term 4: Design and Innovation
Term 1: Culture and Community
Term 2: Natural Systems and Environment
Term 3: Science and Discovery
The Inquiry process supports other curriculum areas by demonstrating the real-world application literacy and numeracy proficiencies while enhancing of oral language and social skill development.