In a PYP classroom, teachers use inquiry-based instruction to deliver content and knowledge to the students. Research shows that inquiry-based instruction is an educational best practice.
Inquiry-based instruction can be done on three levels including: open ended, guided, and teacher led. Open-ended inquiry involves students making the choice on what topic or concept to inquire about. With guided inquiry the broad concept to be studied is chosen by the grade level teaching team. Students can then take this broad concept and explore it using their own prior knowledge, interests, and needs. Teacher-led inquiry is similar to guided inquiry, but the teachers control the inquiry more by guiding students to specific inquiries.
Many people equate inquiry with traditional research. Research is a wonderful way to conduct inquiry but it is not the only method. Other methods can include, but are not limited to: experiments, collecting data and reporting findings, interactive play, discussions and debates, problem solving, making connections and predictions, and completing individual group challenges.
Inquiry is effective in teaching students because individual student's needs are built into their inquiry. Students use their own background knowledge and strengths in their studies and therefore inquiry is a very natural way to differentiate instruction for all abilities. Too often, students entering school begin limiting exploration on their own and begin relying on others to give them knowledge. In the PYP we foster the child's natural way of learning by allowing them to engage, explore, and ask questions in order to construct knowledge.