Page 1



Edited by Sylvia Gentile, Judith Kantor, and Laura Weishaupt Contributors: UCLA Lab School Inquiry Vision Committee 2018 — Gabriela Cárdenas, Mayra Carrasco, Sylvia Gentile, Judith Kantor, Ding Kong, Alanah Ntzouras, Jane Parkes, Linnea Paul, and Chris Wilson Special thanks to Nicole Mancevice, Kevin North, Laurie Ramirez, Julie Kern Schwerdtfeger, and Renata Gusmão-García Williams for their contributions to this work. Copyright © 2018 UC Regents and UCLA Lab School All rights reserved

Let’s explore together... UCLA Lab School strives to be a caring community of learners dedicated to educating the whole child. We value learning that is collaborative, experiential, interdisciplinary, and inquiry-based. We delight in children’s natural joy of discovery. We believe our role as educators is to listen to children’s voices and encourage them to see themselves as active agents of positive change in their classrooms, communities, and the world. Our approach to teaching has its roots in the leadership and creativity of Principal Corinne A. Seeds (1925–1957), who was influenced by the teachings of John Dewey and James Kirkpatrick and was a key figure in developing and promoting progressive education. Miss Seeds studied at Columbia University to learn how to engage children in “learning by doing” to make the curriculum come alive. She believed that “to keep education dynamic, children must have experiences that they care about.” Building on these ideas, the school has developed an inquiry-based curriculum emphasizing critical thinking that has evolved and grown for almost a century. Fundamental to this work has been the establishment of a system for creating and maintaining an environment that encourages students to collaborate, to be inclusive, to listen to diverse perspectives, and to be reflective in their learning. In the 1990s, with the advent of the world wide web and resulting proliferation of information, we wanted to explore how our inquiry approach can best prepare students for citizenship in a digital age. As a laboratory school, we looked for ways to expand our engagement with other educators about this topic. UCLA Lab School teachers collaborated with a UCLA Information Studies faculty member and teachers from Santa Monica/Malibu Unified School District to create a guide for elementary and high school teachers entitled, Managing Information in a Digital Age: The Processes and Initial Skills. This was a first step in creating a professional development series called the Critical Thinking Institute. Teachers across Southern California attended the Institute to observe inquiry teaching and learning and develop their own inquiry-based curricula. More recently, the lab school has forged partnerships with public schools to work together to refine and expand thinking and practices about the pedagogy of inquiry. After an intensive institute at the lab school, public school teachers work with lab school teachers both at our school and at their own sites. This collaboration and exploration of these practices in different teaching and learning environments enriches all partners’ ability to adapt and grow an inquiry pedagogy that honors diverse student voices. This guide, Creating a Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry, builds on the philosophies and methods of Corinne A. Seeds, ideas from the Critical Thinking Institute, and the work of many teachers and administrators who over the years have championed and developed the kind of teaching that supports progressive ideals and experiential, reflective learning. Thank you for joining us in this learning journey. UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry

Above: Primary students learn about the structure and function of the parts of a flower through observating flowers and making detailed drawings of what they see.

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry

CREATING A CULTURE AND PEDAGOGY OF INQUIRY “Each child is unique and the protagonist of his or her own growth. Children desire to acquire knowledge, have much capacity for curiosity and amazement, and yearn to create relationships with others and communicate.” — Loris Malaguzzi, Founder of the Reggio Emilia’s educational philosophy Inquiry is the process of wondering about the world, posing questions, gathering information, representing understanding, solving problems, and taking action. It places student questions, ideas, and observations at the center of teaching and learning. This approach is based on values that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion and builds classroom and school communities where kindness, respectful relationships, and collaboration are the norm. Inquiry forms the heart of our teaching practice at UCLA Lab School. This guide is intended to support teachers who would like to create a culture and pedagogy of inquiry in their own classrooms. It provides an overview of key components and practices of inquiry at UCLA Lab School, including what both teachers and students are doing throughout the process. Inquiry is integral to all parts of our curriculum, from science to social studies, from literacy to math. We see it as an approach to education that promotes balance between academic rigor and the development of 21st Century skills: creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. We hope this guide will be useful to teachers as they reflect on how to teach and learn using inquiry with their own students and in their own school environments. Our Inquiry Approach involves harnessing both students’ and teachers’ innate curiosity about human society and the natural world as they investigate real-world problems and questions through authentic learning experiences. It requires students to gather information and data using their senses and ask questions to deepen their understanding of concepts and ideas. This approach is not a linear process. Rather it is recursive, continuously encouraging students and teachers to reflect on their learning and revisit various components of the process as necessary. Ultimately, the purpose of inquiry is to prepare students to use their research and learning to take action that positively impacts our world.

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 1

Student-Driven, Standards-Based Our Inquiry Approach has clear and defined learning goals, which are aligned with the Common Core Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for Social Studies State Standards. Systematic and continuous teacher preparation and planning around these standards is critical. However, our Inquiry Approach is driven by student interest and curiosity. While teachers continue to keep in mind the learning goals, they need to adapt their preparation, teaching, learning experiences, and lessons to encourage and utilize student ideas, questions, and solutions.

Above: Self-portrait, Early Childhood (lef); Favorite Places Group Collage, Upper (right)

The Four Components In this document, we outline four interconnected components of our Inquiry Approach. It requires both teachers and students to actively participate. Each of the following sections includes a description of the component, as well as the role of both teachers and students. 1. Launching

Teachers identify the area of study, universal ideas, and content concepts for student

investigation and prepare the classroom, considering both the physical space and the

social-emotional learning environment. Teachers keep students’ interests and ideas central

during preparation and planning. 2. Documentation and Assessment

Making learning visible through documentation supports teachers in the development

of a deeper understanding of what students are learning, as well as how to promote

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 2

and incorporate student interests and further develop student skills. Teachers and students

reflect on their learning, using documentation to assess and keep track of their progress

throughout the inquiry. Teachers and peers provide feedback to students about their work

as recorded in the documentation. This formative assessment process enables teachers to

make informed decisions about planning and instruction. It also enables teachers to ensure

the academic success of all students by assessing individual student learning needs. When

students use documentation to reflect on their learning, they develop the metacognitive

habit of self-assessment. Summative assessments such as in-depth culminating projects show

how students have made meaning from multiple concepts across the study. Both formative

and summative assessment enable students and teachers to evaluate the students’ process

of inquiry as well as their products of learning. 3. Investigation

Students engage in questioning, learning experiences, research, reflection, and sense-making

in order to learn and understand content concepts and universal ideas. As students’

construct understanding, they reflect on their need for deeper questions, additional research,

and further sense-making. Teachers consider the need for additional learning experiences,

resources, and sense-making opportunities. Misconceptions identified by students and/or

teachers are addressed. 4. Application of Knowledge

Students create culminating projects that demonstrate their understanding of content

concepts and universal ideas. They share their learning with peers, teachers, and families.

Teachers and students also look for authentic opportunities to apply their learning beyond

the classroom. They identify problems, design solutions, and take informed action that

addresses local and global issues. The kinds of actions students take vary depending on their

interests, their age, and the amount of time available.

Threads Woven Throughout the Inquiry Approach Our Inquiry Approach provides authentic opportunities for reflection, differentiated instruction, the visual and performing arts (VAPA), and the use of primary sources, engineering, and technology,. Differentiated Instruction Throughout our Inquiry Approach, teachers provide opportunities for students to work in a variety of configurations (individually, in pairs, in small groups, and in the whole group). Teachers can ensure that students work with appropriate levels of challenge and support. Students learn to work collaboratively and value the diverse contributions of their peers. The process calls for teachers to provide multiple opportunities for students to make sense of their findings and experiences by offering them a variety of ways to represent their understanding.

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 3

The Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA), Primary Sources, Engineering, and Technology VAPA, primary sources, engineering practices, and technology play vital roles in all components of the process. Teachers may provide students with primary source and VAPA materials as part of a learning experience and to support student research. Students represent their understanding of concepts and ideas using various forms of creative expression. By providing multiple modalities, such as visual arts, music, performance, digital media, or dance, students have more entry points to immerse themselves in inquiry. VAPA, engineering, and technology also provide fresh, imaginative ways for students to summarize, communicate, and take action.

Launching “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” --- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Above: Teachers prepare for an interdisciplinary study (left); Physical classroom environments spark student curiosity and interest (right).

Preparation and planning are integral parts of inquiry throughout the process. Teachers research and prepare universal ideas and content concepts for student investigation. They gather resources and plan a variety of ongoing experiences that spark student interest, follow student voices, build background knowledge, and provide access to learning for all students. Teachers establish and nurture a healthy social-emotional environment. The school and classroom communities support diverse cultures and ideas, safeguard equity, and require inclusion. Teachers also create a physical environment that encourages wonder and curiosity, critical thinking, and collaboration.

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 4

Launching Universal Ideas, Content Concepts, Guiding Questions, and Learning Experiences Teachers

Students •

With teachers, collaborate on developing

Common Core; Next Generation Science

clear learning goals

Standards; College, Career, and Civic Life

Reflect on clearly stated universal ideas

• Plan using standards and frameworks such as

Social Studies Framework; and 21st Century Skills Framework, to identify key concepts and skills • Work collaboratively with grade-level teachers • Identify universal ideas and content concepts • Build their own background knowledge about content, concepts, and potential social action • Remain mindful of unintentional teacher biases • Research possible misconceptions in content area and how to support student thinking • Develop driving and essential questions that guide investigations • Develop ways to launch the study — “problems,” “provocations,” or “phenomena” — that might engage student curiosity and wonder • Identify resources, field trips, books, websites, videos, experts, etc. • Plan learning experiences: -

classroom and field experiences that give students common reference points for the study, regardless of prior back ground knowledge


questioning/wondering lessons


discourse lessons


collaboration lessons


research lessons (e.g. notetaking, using web-based resources, using the library)

• Create a planning timeline with the understanding that it remains flexible and responsive to student interests and voices

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 5

Launching Interdisciplinary Planning Teachers • Explicitly plan interdisciplinary content connect-

Students • Learn deeply and make connections across

ing subject areas

content areas

• Plan learning experiences that allow students

• Follow their curiosity uninhibited by traditional

to find and make connections across curricular

boundaries among disciplines

areas • Consult and exchange ideas with colleagues, including subject specialists, to uncover areas for interdisciplinary connections

Quick Guide to Levels and Grades Classrooms at UCLA Lab School are organized in levels, with some multi-age groupings. Early Childhood (EC) EC I: 4- to 5-year-olds, equivalent of Pre-K EC II: 5- to 6-year-olds, equivalent of K Primary 6- to 8-year-olds, equivalent of Grades 1 & 2 Intermediate 8- to 10-year-olds, equivalent of Grades 3 & 4 Upper Upper I: 10- to 11-year-olds, equivalent of Grade 5 Upper II: 11- to 12-year-olds, equivalent of Grade 6

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 6

Launching Planning the Social-Emotional Environment Teachers


• Gather information about students to understand their needs, backgrounds, and experiences • Consider special language, social-emotional, or complex learner needs when making plans • Develop lessons that build community, promote a safe environment for taking risks, and teach collaboration -

Listen to student ideas, perspectives, and

• Feel safe to share, take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, and ask for help • Know their thinking, feelings, process, and products are valued them visible in the classroom • Learn collaboration and communication

Teach skills that build community (e.g. inclusion, empathy, kindness, integrity,


equitable learning community

• Document their ideas and thinking to make

voices -

• Co-create classroom norms for a safe,

skills • Understand how to give and receive feed-

responsibility, and respect)

back in a way that is respectful and con-

Establish and explicitly teach classroom


routines and processes for transitions • Monitor the social-emotional environment throughout the year and reteach social-emotional skills when needed • Provide multiple entry points for students to: -

access information


provide a variety of instructional approaches (visual, auditory, etc.)


share thinking (i.e. turn and talk)


represent their understanding using different modes of representation

• Find ways to recognize and value the contributions and strengths of diverse learners • Listen to student voices • Promote a growth mindset by helping students believe that their intelligence can be developed • Empower students to take responsibility for their own learning

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 7

Launching Listening to Student Voices Teachers


• Listen to students’ ideas, perspectives, and voices

• Engage in a democratic environment where

• Record student voices

their own ideas as well as those of their peers

• Use student interests to plan next steps and to

are being listened to

inform practice

• Engage in respectful discourse

• Remain flexible and open to student ideas and interests during the inquiry • Plan for students to share their thinking in a variety of ways

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 8

Launching Planning the Physical Learning Environment Teachers


• Create an environment that provokes thinking,

• Interact with the classroom environment

curiosity, and an opportunity for interaction

• Have time to explore and use the classroom

with materials and resources

• Feel a sense of ownership of the space

• Create displays that are thoughtful, intentional, and aesthetically pleasing — include realia, photographs, artifacts, books, art, and primary sources that stimulate interest in the areas of study • Find ways to bring resources and materials from the natural world and human society into the classroom • Organize the room to be comfortable and cozy • Use various configurations of space for wholegroup, individual, and small-group work • Include areas for a library, atelier, blocks, science, play, and student project work • Organize materials with intent and purpose • Ensure that materials are accessible to students • Provide a variety of resources, natural and repurposed materials • Refresh learning environment to reflect new content concepts and learning • Ensure that documentation tools are accessible to students, TAs, and teachers • Make documentation visible and accessible to students, teachers, and parents • Provide space for student work, voices, ideas, and questions • Display student work in ways that value the work and are aesthetically pleasing • Show the investigation over time as work in progress and as final products

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 9

Documentation and Assessment “We do not learn from experience...we learn from reflecting on experience.” --- John Dewey

Above: Sketchbooks make visible students’ thinking in their ocean study.

Documentation and assessment are complementary practices that support student learning and teacher planning throughout the inquiry. Both teachers and students actively participate in documenting and assessing student thinking and work in the classroom. Student thinking, ideas, and interests stay central to the inquiry. By documenting students’ thinking and work, teachers show they value diverse student voices and are able to listen more effectively to student interests and ideas, evaluate what students have learned, and determine what skills need to be developed. Furthermore, documentation enables teachers to reflect on and revise their own teaching practice. This self-reflection allows them to assess how effective their preparation and teaching have been in supporting students’ conceptual understanding and identify the additional learning experiences, materials, and information sources needed to support student progress.

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 10

Students and teachers record student conversations and gather student work in multiple modalities. They gather this documentation through photographs, notes of classroom conversations, written work, artwork, etc. This documentation can be used to show how an investigation unfolds over time. By making learning visible, students and teachers build a collective memory of the inquiry. Assessment occurs on an on-going basis and is used by teachers for planning and designing instruction and by students to reflect on and revise their work. Teachers and students use formative assessment to make informed decisions. It is a process of gathering and analyzing evidence of student progress toward learning goals through observation and documentation, including student and teacher reflections, student sense-making, and other student work. They use these assessments to deepen their understanding, move an investigation forward, address misconceptions, and plan next steps. By frequently assessing students’ knowledge of concepts and skills, teachers can help address students’ individual learning needs and help facilitate the academic success of each student. In addition, summative assessments at the end of the inquiry, such as the culminating project, enable students and teachers to evaluate both the process and products of learning.

Above: Upper students use a rubric to self-assess their work.

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 11

Documentation and Assessment Making Learning Visible Teachers


• Dialogue with students and colleagues about

• Understand why documentation is important to

why documentation is important • Develop an effective and manageable way to document learning

their own learning • Feel that their interests and ideas are valued • Select the tools (paper and clipboards,


Create documentation stations

cameras, video recorders, computers, etc.)


Create a classroom structure that

they use for documentation

supports documentation -

Identify people to help with documentation — students, staff members, volunteers, et al

• Clearly articulate their learning process to peers, teachers, family, and visitors • Use documentation to help build the memory of the group around a particular investigation

• Model for students how they can use documentation to reflect on their work • Create common understanding with their colleagues on what should be documented and methods to do so • Create interactive learning walls that make learning visible in the classroom • Clearly show the universal idea, inquiry components, and the standards addressed • Use documentation to help build the memory of the group around a particular investigation • Collaborate with colleagues to make learning public in a variety of ways in and beyond the school • Include teacher preparations and reflections in public documentation

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 12

Documentation and Assessment Using Documentation and Assessment to Inform Teaching and Learning Teachers


• Use ongoing observations and documenta-

• Know what is expected of them throughout

tion as formative assessments to help identify

an inquiry through clearly articulated learning

student interests and ideas, assess student

goals and success criteria

learning, drive instruction, understand miscon-

• Help develop assessments to guide and

ceptions, and determine next steps, including

evaluate their own learning: rubrics, checklists,

where further instruction may be needed


• Use formative assessment such as: -

• Examine their work to ask more questions,

observation of student work and

expand on existing ideas, and identify areas

learning experiences

that require additional research and





in-class discussions




analysis of documentation


teacher and student reflections

• Use self-assessment tools to reflect on and revise their work • Participate in creating and organizing documentation on interactive learning walls

• Provide in-the-moment responses to student

• Learn how to give peers constructive,

work, including constructive, actionable sug-

actionable suggestions to help them revise


their work and determine next steps

• Use self-reflection to determine what learning experiences, materials, and information sources are required to further student progress • Help students develop skills to become

• Feel that their ideas are valued and they can build on those ideas to deepen understanding • Learn how to use teachers’ and peers’ comments and suggestions to revise their work

metacognitive about their own learning • Establish systems for continuously collecting data and recording evidence of student learning • Use documentation to identify possible threads – recurrences of a line of thought - that connect diverse parts of the study (continued)

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 13

(continued) • Create, with student involvement, interactive learning walls that remain relevant to learning and reflect work in progress • Teach students to give each other positive comments and constructive suggestions about their work • Provide opportunities to close gaps between current and desired performance • Use summative assessments (culminating) such as: -

post assessments (compared to pre-assessment)


norm-based assessments


culminating project or presentation

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 14

Investigation “My role as a ‘progressive’ teacher is not only that of teaching…but also of helping the students to recognize themselves as architects of their own cognition process.” -- Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom

Above: Upper students examine a primary source map to understand historical concepts (left); Using a firsthand experience, Primary students explore soil (right).

Teachers first assess their students’ prior knowledge in order to determine where to begin the teacher-prepared/student-driven investigations. In addition, teachers should provide students with a variety of engaging learning experiences that encourage and support the development of conceptual knowledge and skills. Learning experiences, which include the use of primary sources and the visual and performing arts, provoke curiosity, stimulate questioning and critical thinking, and promote a diversity of perspectives. When a variety of learning experiences are used, all children can become active participants, regardless of their skill level or background knowledge. Students are able to add to their knowledge of an area of study by identifying, accessing, evaluating, and using a variety of information sources. Students then make sense of information gathered through their learning experiences and research by representing their understanding of the content in a variety of ways, including expressing their ideas in two- and three-dimensional forms, kinesthetically, orally, and in writing. Students use a variety of media as well as technological and engineering tools to create these representations. Multiple representations of a core idea or concept have the benefit of furthering student learning and deepening their understanding. Throughout the investigation component, teachers continue to listen closely to students’ interests and ideas to guide the inquiry. Children learn to listen to each other respectfully and work collaboratively. The entire Inquiry Approach requires reflection and collaboration by students and teachers with others in and beyond the classroom.

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 15

Investigation Assessing Background Knowledge Teachers • Provide provocations and/or phenomena that

Students • Share knowledge and experiences about a

spark student interest and curiosity, motivate student learning, and stimulate discussion • Provide opportunities for students to think and share what they think they know about a subject in small- and large-group settings in various ways

particular investigation •

Acknowledge and value all ideas shared

• Write, draw, or discuss what they think they know about a particular topic • Share any questions they may have about the investigation

• Acknowledge and value all ideas • Offer opportunities for children to record what they “think they know” • Use clarifying questions such as “Can you tell me more?” to help students elaborate on their thinking and knowledge • Record questions students may generate from initial conversations about what they think they know

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 16

Investigation Building Background Knowledge and Conceptual Understandings through Learning Experiences Teachers


• Encourage students to wonder and be curious about the world

• Actively engage in learning experiences • After participating in multiple learning experi-

• Provide students with various types of learning experiences to help them understand universal ideas and content concepts

ences, generate questions relating to the investigation • Observe closely and record their observations

• Provide experiences that build on students’ prior knowledge, cultural experience, and expertise

in a variety of ways • Collaborate with other students to share their thinking in a variety of ways

• For each new content concept, when possible, begin with first-hand and hands-on experiences such as field trips, direct observations, tactile

• Explore connections among curricular areas • Make connections to and ask questions about local and global issues

explorations, and interactions with experts • Continue with visual learning experiences such as watching a video and examining maps, photos, paintings, and other media • After hands-on and visual learning experiences, provide textual experiences including reading books, articles, and web text • Teach about the use of primary sources • Provide primary sources throughout the investigation • Provide opportunities for students to record their thinking in a variety of ways (e.g., sketchbooks, journals, graphic organizers, analysis tools, etc.)

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 17

Investigation Questioning Teachers • Assess students’ understanding of how to pose questions • Teach students to differentiate between different types of questions, (e.g., open- and

Students • Be curious and ask questions • Learn to ask intentional and purposeful questions to deepen understanding • Understand different types of questions —

closed-ended questions) and how they can

including descriptive, relational, and causal

be useful at various points in the investigation

— to facilitate research

• Teach students to ask descriptive, relational,

• Organize their thinking and look for patterns,

and causal questions that require research,

similarities, and differences by categorizing

reflection, and critical thinking

their questions

• Provide opportunities for students to discuss

• Ask additional questions based on new infor-

and ask questions (whole group, small group,

mation gained from learning experiences

and individually)

and research

• Use students’ questions to drive instruction, provide additional instruction, and address misconceptions • Teach students how to organize their thinking and look for patterns, similarities, and differences by categorizing their questions • Record student questions as they arise throughout the investigation • Make questions visible for students to reflect on and come back to

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 18

Investigation Identifying, Accessing, Evaluating, and Using Sources Teachers


• Teach students about different primary and secondary sources of information, including people, print, digital, and artifacts

• Identify and access sources of information to address their research question/s • Evaluate sources for authority, relevance,

• Consider how to ensure that all students can

accuracy, and point of view

access sources of information needed to

• Learn about cybersafety

address their research questions

• Understand intellectual property and Fair Use

• Teach students how to evaluate sources of

• Cite sources

information for authority, relevance, accuracy,

• Gather and use information to expand thinking

and point of view

• Learn to source, corroborate, and contextualize

• Teach students about intellectual property and Fair Use

• Learn to recognize multiple points of view • Learn to identify when voices are NOT

• Be familiar with various citation styles (MLA,

represented and why

APA, CMS) • Teach students how to cite their sources • Teach students about cybersafety • Provide students with the time to explore, investigate, and research • Teach students how to source, corroborate, and contextualize (Reading Like a Historian) • Teach students to recognize multiple points of view • Teach students to identify when voices are NOT represented and why • Provide a variety of resources and make them accessible and visible in the classroom

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 19

Investigation Sense-making: Demonstrating Conceptual Understanding Teachers • Provide student planning guides that help

Students • Prepare and plan how they will represent their

students think in advance about the form and

understanding and what materials they will

materials they will use in sense-making

use before they begin

• Offer students the opportunity to make sense

• Represent their understanding of universal

of different universal ideas and content

ideas and content concepts in a variety of

concepts in a variety of ways, including visual

ways, including writing, drawing, making a

(two- and three-dimensional), kinesthetic,

model, performing a song or skit, using digital

musical, oral, and written forms

media, etc.

• Clarify for students the difference between

• Deepen their understanding of a single

sense-making for conceptual understanding

concept by representing it multiple times

(formative assessment) and the culminating

and with various media

project (summative assessment) • Offer students opportunities to make sense of one concept in a variety of forms • Balance opportunities to use digital technology and hands-on media • Introduce materials to engage students in the sense-making experience • Provide opportunities for students to explore a

• Explore the potential of various materials before representing their understanding • Work on something over time and reflect on their understanding • Make mistakes • Revise their work based on self-assessment as well as peer and teacher comments • Identify misconceptions

variety of materials before they represent their

• Confirm what they think they know


• Recognize new knowledge and understanding

• Offer opportunities for students to give peers positive comments and constructive sugges-

• Have the chance to work individually and in small groups

tions • Provide time for students to revise their work based on self-assessment as well as peer and teacher comments • Use student representations to assess understanding and misconceptions and re-teach when needed • Promote the 21st Century Skills —

critical thinking, creativity, communication,

and collaboration

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 20

Investigation Reflecting and Refining Teachers


• Reflect on student work and their own practice and share with colleagues and students • Use student reflections (written and oral) to develop or adapt instruction

• Reflect frequently about what they think they know, new learning, wonderings, and possible misconceptions • Reflect on how well they have communicated

• Teach students to use reflection tools and record their thinking

and collaborated with peers • Reflect on the process of the investigation —

• Teach students to use metacognition to help plan how to approach a learning task, monitor

prompts that may be used include: -

comprehension, and evaluate progress

Is my research question too broad or too narrow? Does it need refining?

• Provide time for students to use their reflections


to revise their work

Do I have sufficient sources of information?


Have I made the best choice of materials?

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 21

Application of Knowledge “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” — John Dewey

Above: Intermediate students work collaboratively to create a culminating mural project.

Application of Knowledge requires students to synthesize their research and learning during an investigation with the ultimate goal of taking action and making a positive impact on our world. Having gathered information and made meaning of important content concepts through sensemaking during Investigation, students synthesize their knowledge and understanding by creating in-depth culminating projects. These projects incorporate the students’ interests and ideas that have emerged during Investigation. Teachers must provide time and space for students to plan and develop these longer-term collaborative projects. The projects can take many forms, such as three-dimensional constructions, musical and theatrical performances, and video and digital productions. Investigations vary in length, depending on teachers’ learning goals and students’ interests.

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 22

Students may engage in multiple inquiry cycles during the year, which may result in multiple in-depth, long-term projects. In all cases, students share and make public what they have learned with peers, teachers, and/or families. Application of Knowledge also enables children to explore how to utilize their learning in the world outside school. During Investigation, students make connections to and ask questions about local and global issues. They look for authentic opportunities to apply their learning. By this point, they have identified a problem or an issue they want to explore more deeply. They find individuals or organizations to collaborate with, and together they design solutions to make a difference. Working with people affected by the issue builds empathy and understanding, which ultimately leads to more creative and effective solutions. Student action can include writing a letter to influence others’ opinions, developing a public service announcement, or organizing a community event. The kinds of actions students take vary depending on their interests, their age, and the amount of time available. An overarching goal of the Inquiry Approach is to encourage students to see that the purpose of their work is to help make positive changes in their classrooms, their schools, their community, and their world.

Above: A collaborative mural and three-dimensional models of ocean creatures are the culmination of Primary students’ study of the ocean.

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 23

Application of Knowledge Culminating In-Depth Projects Teachers • Support students in creating an in-depth

Students • Use projects to represent and apply their

project that demonstrates students’ under-

learning about universal ideas and content

standing of concepts and universal ideas


studied during an inquiry • Provide opportunities for students to explore their own passions, interests, and concerns • Help students identify emergent, relevant ideas for culminating projects and think about possible social action • Encourage projects that are interdisciplinary • Provide time and space for students to develop in-depth projects • Provide a variety of materials and access to technology (computers, cameras, etc.) that

• Using an iterative process, brainstorm and plan by sketching designs and creating prototypes • Collaborate with others and decide on roles and jobs • May have multiple in-depth projects in the year that are related to different curricular areas as well as different problems and solutions • Give feedback to peers in a constructive way and accept peer feedback in a productive way • Document their individual and group work in

support the engineering and aesthetic

various tools (e.g., sketchbooks, computer logs,

aspects of the project

learning walls, etc.) and reflect on their

• Scaffold through on-going feedback


• Give students time to apply peer and teacher feedback, and make changes and adjustments • Provide time for student documentation and reflection

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 24

Application of Knowledge Sharing Information and Going Public Teachers


• Guide students as they identify who their

• Consider their audience and purpose in

audience is and how they want to communi-

deciding how best to share information and

cate their learning


• Continue to help students explore how their work and ideas might effect change in their school, their community, and their world • Schedule and invite relevant audience

• Learn and practice presentation skills individually and in collaborative groups • Provide constructive feedback to peers on their presentations


• Make adjustments based on teacher and peer

• Teach presentation skills and give students time to practice

feedback • Document and reflect on their learning

• Provide feedback to students on their presentation skills and time for students to make adjustments or changes • Help students prepare classroom or other space for presentations • Provide time for students to document and reflect

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 25

Application of Knowledge Solving Problems, Designing Solutions, and Taking Action Teachers • Help guide students to a deeper involvement with their local and global community by -

researching relevant organizations


connecting with other students and

Students • Study activists and/or experts in the relevant field to learn what has been done and identify possible areas of action • Discuss, represent, and integrate knowledge to


empower themselves to address real-life issues


finding experts and leaders in the field

in the classroom, community, and beyond


providing opportunities to interview end users directly affected by the potential problem

• Consider possible need for models and prototypes • Consider feasibility • Allow time and space for students to solve problems and design solutions • Provide a variety of materials and facilitate the engineering aspects of the design • Provide ongoing feedback and give students time to apply and make changes and adjustments

• Connect with other students, schools, and organizations in the local or global community • Interview people directly affected by the potential issue to create empathy and understanding • Collaborate with peers on problem definition and solution design • Develop ideas for taking action • Brainstorm and design models and prototypes when needed using various materials • Consider the feasibility of their solution or action • Make changes and adjustments based on peer and teacher feedback • Acknowledge the contributions of all partners, in school and the community • Take time to reflect on process and products

“UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 26

Above, clockwise from top: Upper students protest gun violence and call for legislative change; Upper students create campaigns to raise funds for nonprofit organizations; Intermediate students lead the school community in replacing invasive species with native plants in the Stone Canyon Creek watershed.

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 27

Early Childhood: Inventing machines that pick up trash

Above: Early Childhood students make sketches and prototypes for machines they invented to pick up trash.

Primary: Planning and planting a home for butterflies

Above: An in-depth study of biodiversity and natural ecosystems inspires Primary students to plant a garden to support the migration of Monarch butterflies through North America.

Intermediate: Flipping Los Angeles

Above: In “Flipping LA”, Intermediate students investigate the city’s social and environmental issues and reimagine major landmarks to call attention to the underside of life in glamorous Los Angeles.

Upper: Design for social change

Above: Upper students take action on current social issues designing and building an aquaponics system, a solar cooker, and lockers for homeless college students. Other projects included an app to address traffic congestion, a water purification system, and an alternative to plastic wrap for food storage.

For More Information The ideas discussed in the books and websites listed below have influenced our work. Although this is not an exhaustive list, we hope you will find these resources helpful as you create a culture and pedagogy of inquiry in your own classroom and school.

Reggio Emilia Approach The Hundred Languages of Children, edited by Carolyn Edwards, Lella Gandini, and George Forman (3rd ed.,

Praeger, 2012)

Making Learning Visible: Children as Individual and Group Learners, edited by Claudio Giudici, Carla Rinaldi,

Mara Krechevsky. Contributors Project Zero and Reggio Children (Reggio Children, 2011)

“Project Zero Fifty Years.” Harvard Graduate School of Education, “Reggio Emilia Approach.” Reggio Children,

Learning Skills “Framework for 21st Century Learning.” P21 Partnership for 21st Century Learning, “Reading like a Historian: History Lessons.” Stanford History Education Group, Stanford University, Reality Checks: Teaching Reading Comprehension with Nonfiction, K-5, by Tony Stead (Stenhouse, 2004) “A Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking” Stanford, Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford

University, 2017,

Assessment “Formative and Summative Assessments.” Yale Center for Teaching and Learning, “Formative Assessment: An Enabler of Learning” by Margaret Heritage. Better: Evidence-Based Education, vol. 3,

no. 3, Spring 2011, pp. 18-19, “Overview of Major Assessment Types in Standards-Based Instruction.” The Center on Standards & Assessment Implementation, “What Is Formative Assessment?” The Center on Standards & Assessment Implementation,

UCLA Lab School / Creating A Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry / p. 28

Above: After investigating the causes and effects of trash being left on their playgrounds, Early Childhood students stage a march on the UCLA campus to advocate for a cleaner environment.

330 Charles E. Young Drive North • Box 951619 • Los Angeles • 90095-1619

Profile for UCLA Lab School

Creating a Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry  

Creating a Culture and Pedagogy of Inquiry  

Profile for janehill7