Creating Inquiry-Based Learning using Smart Notebook Software

Inquiry-based learning is a student-centered, teacher-guided instructional approach that engages students in investigating and answering real world questions within a broad thematic framework designed by the teacher. This workshop will give you the knowledge and tools to conceptualize and develop an inquiry-based, cross-curricular unit of instruction for your students using Smart Notebook software. Whether you intend to have your students access the learning module on their laptops or guide learning from your Smart Board, this workshop will help you create your unit so that all the necessary resources: videos, websites, resource books, visual organizers, worksheets, assignments, etc. are housed in one place: a Smart Notebook file.

Workshop Notes:

key ideas from the day:

Essential Questions:
What makes good inquiry learning?
What does student engagment look like?

  • "Habits of Mind"
  • Purposeful: how do we know if it is purposeful
  • Connections
  • metacognition
  • exploration of what learning looks like and feels like
  • how learning is impacted by feelings, time
  • stress
  • joy


am session:

  • What is Inquiry?
  • A rubric for designing inquiry with authenticity, academic rigor, appropriate assessment, use of technology, active exploration, connections with experts and opportunities to communicate widely and beyond the classroom
  • Integrating inquiry into your content area/classroom
  • time to Inquire
  • Selecting your inquiry/Template
  • "Good of the Group"

pm session:

  • Designing your inquiry
  • Smart Notebook or Powerpoint to develop your unit: adding links, pictures, videos, smart recorder
  • Group or independent work on your inquiry activity
  • "Good of the Group"

1. Essential Questions:

  • What causes you to remember something that you have learned

  • What does student engagement look like?

  • What makes good inquiry learning?

2. What is INQUIRY?

  • jigsaw

  • enduring understandings and essential questions

  • video

3. Levels of Inquiry


  • Pose the Question: Teacher
  • Planning the Procedure: Teacher
  • Formulating the Results: Teacher


  • Pose the Question: Teacher
  • Planning the Procedure: Teacher
  • Formulating the Results: Student

Teacher Guided Inquiry:

  • Pose the Question: Teacher
  • Planning the Procedure: Student
  • Formulating the Results: Student

Student Initiated Inquiry:

  • Pose the Question: Student
  • Planning the Procedure: Student
  • Formulating the Results: Student

4. Universal Features of Inquiry:

1. Authenticity

2. Workspace

3. Essential questions

4. Investigations

5. Real world resources

6. Multiple perspectives and multiple answers

7. Dialogue and discussion

8. Creating

9. Agency

10. Discovery

11. Joy

12. Skills and tools of inquiry

Points to consider:

  • Students learn by being actively engaged and reflecting on that experience

  • Students learn by building on what they already know

  • Students develop higher order thinking through guidance at critical points in the learning process

  • Students’ development occurs in a sequence of stages

  • Students have different ways of learning

  • Students learn through social interaction with others

5. Models of Inquiry:

5E Inquiry Method

Engage: The teacher determines the topic of inquiry and provides a discrepant event or focus question or problem to engage student interest and curiosity.

Explore: The students, with their teacher as a guide and co-investigator, begin to explore the problem or question.

Explain: They make further observations and attempt to explain the phenomena they observe.

Elaborate: The teacher then challenges students to elaborate on their understandings by linking observations to prior knowledge and by applying the concepts and skills in new situations.

Evaluate: Finally, the teacher encourages students to evaluate their understandings and abilities, and the teacher evaluates, or assesses, the areas of strength and weakness exposed by student performance in the activity.

source: Louis Keiner, Coastal Carolina University


S - Set the Scene: provides the context for learning
A - Acquire knowledge: acquiring and validating information
U - Use the information: application of the knowledge in the context of the task
C - Celebrate/communicate of information: presentation of the results
E - Evaluate: evaluation of the process

source: Trevor Bond

6. A rubric to help you design your inquiry

7. Discussion: How does inquiry fit in your content area or classroom

8. Further exploration: review other resources

9. Select your topic

10. Template for lesson

10. "Good of the Group"

Additional Resources:

1. Lisa Nyburg is a third- and fourth-grade teacher at Brattain Elementary School in Springfield, Oregon. In Part 1 of this clip, she discusses two of the main threads of inquiry-based learning: the content and the processes (like learning to work together).

2. Series of videos on designing Inquiry in the classroom. NOTE: to access these videos you must sign up for an account (free)

3. Definition:

4. backward Design/Wiggins and McTighe UBD


6. Richard Susman Theory - powerpoint

7. Partnership for 21st Century Learning [www_21stcenturyskills_org]

8. School as Inquiry article

Other websites: