Prompts for inquiry-based learning can help guide your instruction and give students a chance to investigate for themselves. Start small. Take a look at a lesson in which you normally begin by giving a formula, rule, or property.
Your lesson may typically sound like this: "Here is the formula for ___. Let me show you how to use it, and then we will practice."
Now, instead of giving the information, allow the students to develop the formula for themselves.
They will remember it better, understand it more deeply, and be able to apply it.
The great news about adding guided inquiry questioning is that it can sometimes be done with ZERO extra teacher prep.
Try this format instead: "You are going to develop and use a formula today." Kick the lesson off with just the right question and then sit back. Offer materials or samples as needed. The students will do the work, and you as the teacher will simply decide how much help to give each student or group. Try to resist the temptation to participate too much!
Here are some sample prompts. Remember that instead of GIVING information, you are asking the class to use what they know and test cases to come up with a pattern or rule. Give a prompt that fits your objective and then give plenty of time for students to think and work. I like to have students work in pairs.
- Develop a formula for surface area of a cylinder. (For groups who need extra guidance, offer a net or a 3d model or have them start with a cube and then a prism first.)
- Take some time to figure out and write a rule that can be used to determine whether a number is divisible by six.
- (introducing the commutative property) Test some sets of math facts using simple operations like addition and subtraction and determine for which operations the order of the numbers matters. Write rules in complete sentences. Can you write a rule using variables?
Here are some inquiry-based questioning samples to write your own prompts within a lesson:
When students have completed an investigation, give them some time to reflect and write up their conclusions. Try questions formatted like this: