At White Mountain, we understand the power of a student-driven approach to inquiry. In a learning environment, it is important to assume an inquiry mindset. Research has also shown that students learn best when they are engaged—when they are passionate about what they are learning. This has led White Mountain to build a focus on student-driven inquiry— learning driven by questions that matter to the students. Students experience this approach in their classes, and in their LASR (Leadership, Arts, Service and Research) projects.
Director of Student Inquiry & Research Sara Kelley-Mudie has taken the lead in refining our student-driven inquiry approach, helping us all prepare students to frame good questions and to think critically about what they are asking. As students progress in their time at White Mountain, they are supported to take more ownership over their learning and to direct their own inquiry. They learn to how turn their curiosity into researchable questions, and they develop skills and habits that correlate with college success (see the Essential Skills and Habits).
Sara has worked with the faculty at White Mountain to help integrate skills and habits of inquiry into the classroom. She co-taught a lesson with science teacher Nathaniel Goss built around producing question maps. Students began by exploring a question. Based on what they found, they asked another question, either related or heading in a different direction, documenting their questions the entire way. At the end of the class, students shared their maps and what they had learned. By creating maps of their questions, students could see the nonlinear nature of inquiry and how ideas build.
“We want students to see that education is not about transferring knowledge, but creating it,” says Sara. “We are living in a rapidly changing world where there is an abundance of information. Asking the right question has become critical.”
Read more about our student-driven approach to inquiry and student LASR projects in our most recent issue of Echoes.