Inquiry-based Teaching and Learning

Deeper Learning Strategies to Improve Engagement & Success

The College-Ready Literacy modules implement reading and writing instructional practices across the curriculum and aligns with the rigorous reading and writing demands of college.

The Inquiry Mathematics modules help the school develop and implement a college-ready math program.
ISA schools build a rigorous college preparatory curriculum using a range of strategies and tools.

Our Building a Culture of Planning module (see below) establishes the structures and practices necessary for the collegial development of lessons and an in-depth, ongoing review of student work.

The Successful Delivery of Instruction module (see below) integrates higher-order thinking, inquiry, and external learning experiences into the school’s instructional program and aligns with state standards.

Creating a Culture of Planning
Laying the Groundwork for Professional PlanningPrincipal and ISA Coach meet to:

  • Define a culture of planning
  • Review research snd models
  • Identify strategies to incorporate professional learning
  • Formulate a roll-out plan
  • Establish space for teachers to plan and collaborate
  • Build specific & consistent time into the schedule for teachers’ planning and collaboration

Principal, ISA Coach and/or Leadership Team provide professional development to:

  • List expectations of faculty “Habits of Work” in planning meetings
  • Share the weekly schedule of times and places for collaboration
  • Share Academic Calendar that will be used
Connecting the Planning to Data
  • The principal and ISA coach establish a baseline through informal walk-throughs, talks with members of the staff, talks to small groups of students, etc.
  • Review school-specific data (e.g., % writing/reading proficiency, % math proficiency, attendance/lateness rates, promotion rates, etc.)
  • Identify over-looked data available that may provide insight on leadership, instruction, and learning at the school.
  • Identify ways for teachers to easily access data
  • Schedule time for teachers to analyze data and use it to adjust instruction
  • Develop a professional development map and schedule that reflects the quantitative and qualitative data teams need
Inquiring into Teachers’ Lesson Planning and Lesson Delivery

Connecting Lesson Planning to Long-term Learning Outcomes.

  • ISA Coach shares ISA model methods of classroom observations
  • Principal and ISA coach collects a wide range of sample lesson plans from various disciplines, focusing on various outcomes, and emphasizing different approaches to learning
  • ISA coach collects model lesson-planning formats that support both the planning and the delivery of an inquiry-based lesson
  • Compare lesson plans to curricular goals to determine the level of alignment between the lesson itself and the long-term learning outcomes
  • Collaboratively inquire into model lesson plans (from anonymous sources outside the school) to determine the levels of engagement, inquiry, and critical thinking the lesson plan leads to
Maintaining and Building on the Culture of Planning by Incorporating Technology and Inquiring into Assessments.Technology leader and ISA Coach will:

  • Determine realistic expectations of technology use by staff
  • Identify one or two technologies to initiate
  • Develop systems of efficacy and accountability for using the technology.
  • Investigate current technologies available for facilitating the culture of planning in the school
Successful Delivery of Instruction
Inquiring into the Efficacy of Teachers’ Delivery of Instruction.

Improving Specific Teachers’ Classroom Management Skills

Building Up Teachers’ Cache of Instructional Approaches

ISA Coach and Principal co-plan to directly support teachers’ delivery of instruction. They:

  • Review recent observations of teachers to determine areas of weakness in delivery of instruction
  • Use research on engagement, inquiry, and higher-order thinking to identify criteria for effective delivery of instruction
  • Plan professional development on delivery of instruction that ultimately leads to greater student outcomes in engagement, inquiry, and higher-order thinking
  • Plan follow-up and accountability plan to ensure delivery of instruction is improving
  • Create action plans for specific teachers struggling with classroom management
  • Review sample classroom management plans

Principal and ISA coach co-lead professional development where whole staff:

  • Inquires into their own lesson plans to identify moments when the delivery led to learning
  • Generates a list of lesson activities that effectively help students learn a specific concept, skill, or piece of knowledge. These are categorized by “Habits of Mind” to identify areas over-emphasized or under-emphasized. Teachers vet the list to consider which activities are best for different knowledges or skills.
  • Identifies activities teachers rely on when the classroom is unmanageable
  • Identifies successful rituals, routines, and procedures that allow teachers to carry out “riskier” activities (such as “workshops”, differentiated instruction, group work, etc.)
  • Teachers individually identify a specific way they want to improve the delivery of their instruction (based on the criteria listed by the staff) and communicate this to the Principal

Principal, supervisors, and ISA coach observe teachers, focusing on the specific area the teacher chose for improvement.

  • During the debrief, principal/supervisors and ISA coach provide additional feedback on other areas and supply resources
  • ISA coach gives targeted feedback on teachers’ individual classroom management plans

ISA coach and principal/supervisors co-plan peer observation initiative whereby:

  • Teachers conduct focused peer observations of one particular area of instruction (as decided on by the individual being observed)
  • Small groups of teachers (4-5) who teach the same grade conduct lesson studies that follow a particular protocol focusing on delivery of instruction
  • Teachers of the same grade periodically (once a month or marking period) look at work completed by the same 5 students in all their classes. Work collected is representative of low, medium, and high achievement
  • Using a protocol, the work is used to make decisions about what and how content is being taught.