Using iPads for Inquiry Based Learning with Kristen Wideen


In Inquiry Learning, students are looking up answers that they want answers to.  Using an inquiry approach empowers students to create questions that matter to them.

Kristen said to her class “Let’s go outside, and take pictures and inspire curiosity!”

Then….one boy was exploring the question…How many pieces of grass are on the soccer field?

Students were actively engaged in answering their own questions during the exploration time. Empowering!

Kristen shared that she read the book A Place of Wonder.

She was inspired to find or identify places of wonder in your classroom.  For example, create an observation window. Kristen also created a pretend tree by using a pole in her classroom. Students in her classroom sit wherever they want.  Her students are able to float in and out of the library which is right next door.  She recommends the book Inquiry Circles in Action by Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels.   She displays the students mini-inquiries outside her room with their picture and speech bubbles.  She sets aside specific time for inquiry development, and students are able to post it on their speech bubble.  Also, each child has their own QR code that links to a Padlet wall with all their questions. Watch out…some questions may not be appropriate. Where do babies come from?!

Curricular Inquiries – Teach with big ideas and essential questions about the curriculum in mind.

Planning the Inquiry

Try to limit the time to 5 weeks.  Week 1 – Front load the questions. Week 2-4  Research and create an artifact. During the last week, teach what you may have missed.

Week 1 – What do you know about Pioneers?  Examine the answers and decide how much background knowledge to provide.  A great question can not be asked without some knowledge of the topic.  Kristen started a read aloud about early settlers, and used the ICQ (Interest, Connection, Question) strategy.  Another strategy is to “read with a question” in mind.  Kristen suggested the use of chirp (iphone app) to distribute urls and messages to students.

Students were then able to annotate thinking digitally through the use of pictures, and a voice recording. Her students all have a KidBlog where they can post their work for an audience.

Investigation Stage -Develop Questions, Search for Information and Discover Answers.

Then their Knowledge=Questions.  Now students can form inquiry circles. For example, students who want to learn about hunting work together in a team of 3-4.   The goal is to develop a common question within the group.  Another approach is to have students choose from a list of questions that appeal to them  and then group students together.

You, the teacher, don’t need to be the expert, you can learn with your students.  Kristen developed an iPad Research Folder for students to use.  Her folder includes BrainPop, PocketZoo, Wonderopolis, Animal Planet, NASA, Instagrok, a link to National Geographic and Kidrex.  Kristen uses a classroom twitter account for research and has 800 followers!  Impressive! Her class only follows other classrooms.

Another avenue for research is the use of Readlists.  Readlists is a website that you can build url’s for a topic. Then students can go right to the list to research.

Now, the students are going to go public with their learning.  Share Learning, Demonstrate Understanding, Take Action.  One student created an Explain Everything to share what they have learned.  Kristen developed a success criteria and all students exceeded beyond her expectations.  Students did not have parameters on how to show their learning.  Unlimited possibilities!

Kristen gave a lot of real student examples and it really made the presentation fabulous! Including Inquiry Bloopers!  I love her stories, this is part of why we teach..right?!  I can’t even to begin to blog them!  Ask Kristen yourself!





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