The GreenLearning Spiral Inquiry has been developed to support classrooms across Canada with their research and investigations. Provincial curricula across Canada are implementing new inquiry models that encourage open-ended and student-centered investigations. The GreenLearning version consolidates these into a robust model that is clear and helpful to teachers and students. The teacher facilitated spark and the four delineated stages guide fruitful classroom inquiry. The spiral nature of the model helps students understand that inquiry is not really linear or circular – it is a process with many loops and possibilities and the conclusion of one inquiry can lead to more inquiries in the future.
The “spark” is the key to igniting student curiosity and drawing student into thinking critically about a topic or an issue. The “spark” peaks the student’s interest in a particular topic or question and becomes the starting point for student investigation into something that engages them. As the key facilitator of the inquiry, the teacher will provide an enticing spark to help ignite student curiosity. This could be anything from a scenario or case study to a video, editorial cartoon or a story from the media that helps them see the many possible avenues of investigation within the topic.
Hypothesize and Plan
In this stage, students take their spark, brainstorm and then create a working hypothesis which is testable and for which reliable information can be found. They also make a plan for their research and note-taking. Teacher feedback in this stage helps students focus on workable inquiries.
Explore and Research
Students then move on to research and data gathering including possibilities such as interviews, field work, surveys and contacting experts – all the while staying open to connect with a wide range of sources and ideas. Teachers help guide students to finding sufficient amounts of reliable and age appropriate source material.
Analyze and Check
Students analyze their data and begin to draw conclusions. At the same time the teacher helps them check against their hypothesis and be open to modifications that could necessitate additional research.
Communicate and Act
In this key step the students plan actions that are natural outcomes of the research they have done. Action reinforces what they have just investigated and learned, and helps them feel connected to creating a better tomorrow. They communicate their conclusions to a wider, authentic audience through methods such as charts, videos, PSAs, social media, memes, artwork, presentations to meetings and written reports. The teacher helps students connect to these opportunities and designs appropriate assessment material.