Tool II-2: Planning for IBL – students generating questions

For this tool you will need the following resources:

  • II-2 PowerPoint

This tool focuses on promoting student inquiry through the use of opportunities for students download_powerpointto generate their own questions. The characteristics of an IBL classroom identified in the tool stress the importance of student led inquiry.
Currently it is rare to see examples of lessons where the students themselves decide what they want to investigate and teachers find it hard to identify ways of making this happen. This activity provides a model of how lessons may be structured in a manner that starts with the students identifying areas for inquiry. You
may want initially to refer to Tool II-1, with its focus on teacher questioning before shifting the focus to one of students initiating the questions.

Hold an initial discussion with the teachers about approaches to setting questions for inquiry. What approaches have they taken? Lead into a discussion of whether or not they have ever allowed students to come up with their own questions for inquiry. Share the fact that examples of students identifying their own questions for investigation and carrying out such investigations are not common. However, such an approach fits well with the characteristics of IBL identified in other tools (e.g. Tool IA-1).

individualShow the teachers the following five images of particular artefacts/situations. (You may want to substitute your own images to reflect your own context or areas of interest). Ask them as individuals to generate as many inquiry questions as they can think of arising from each image. What might they want to investigate?

5 pics

Bring them back together and list the questions that they have identified in relation to each image. Agree on one or more questions that they think their students might have identified. As a group discuss the ways in which they could support students in pursuing their chosen inquiry. What are the opportunities and challenges provided by this way of working? What aims and objectives could be met by this approach?

teamworkIn pairs, ask them to discuss and list other ways to support students in generating their own inquiry questions.


classBring the group back together. Share the approaches to generating questions and discuss the opportunities and challenges arising.


nextstepsTo finish off, ask the teachers to pick out one of the approaches and try it out in one of their lessons. Reassure them that it would be fine to manipulate the questions that they allow the pupils to pursue in the light of the demands of science curriculum content and/or time constraints. Ask them to reflect on the lesson afterwards and be ready to report back at a future professional development session.