The Art of Inquiry

The Art of Inquiry by Nancy Lee Cecil

This book reminds me of why I love teaching.


I was a philosophy major and I think I liked the questions more than the answers. This book reminded me that questions and wondering are amazing for your students. We need to have students who know how to ask good questions. To do this, we must model good questions and we must not be judgmental of any questions or answers. Students must be taught to 1)recognize the problem, 2)formulate a question about the problem, 3)collect all necessary data, and 4)arrive at a temporarily acceptable answer to the problem. The metacognitive processes needed for proficient reading are 1) self-knowledge, 2) self-monitoring,  and 3) task knowledge.

One strategy called multiple response strategy is to ask a question and write all answers on the board before discussing them. This tool create the greatest amount of critical and creative reflection. This also gives students self-confidence because they see their answer on the board and hear it being discussed.

Probable passages is a strategy divided into four states:

  1. Preparation Stage – Decide on a board the Key Words (words important to the problem), Story Frame (six story elements) and Blank Probably Passage (which includes: “The story takes place [setting]. {beginning} is a character in the story who {fill in}. A problem occurs when {problem}. Then {attempt}. The problem is solved when {outcome}. The story ends {ending}.”
  2. Pre-reading Stage – “What do you think a story that uses these key words is going to be about? How would these words fit into the story frame?” Make predictions
  3. Reading Stage – Read the story to find out how close their predictions match the actual story.
  4. Post-Reading Stage – “How did your probable passage compare with the plot of the story?” Often the students’ probable passage turns out to be a more interesting story than the actual one.

Think Aloud Strategy uses hypothesizing about what might happen, organizing images to recap what is happening, using  prior knowledge to infer information about the story, monitoring understanding to recap again, and rectifying errors to contemplate how the readers’ views change as they continue to read. There is a great Think Aloud Worksheet on page 67.

Question-Eliciting Questions strategy allows teachers to model questions to determine what the student wants to know, write the questions students have about the text on the board, and allow students to ask critical thinking questions about the text in order to construct their own meanings.

Experience-Text-Relationship (ETR) strategy allows students to share certain knowledge they have that is directly related to the story, the read the text while asking them critical-thinking questions about content after each section, and finally attempt to make connections between students and story.

The SCAMPERing strategy allows teachers to asks students by substituting, combining, adapting, modifying/magnifying, putting to use/point of view, eliminating, and rearranging/reversing parts of the story.

Fictional Role-Plays strategy allows students to act out the text.

I-Search strategy requires students to 1)identify the problem, 2) figure out what they need to know, and write a paper about the topic.

Question Generating strategy helps students by having them generate their own questions about the text using the following process: 1) skim the text, 2) ask a question about the topic, 3) read text to find answer, 4) ask another question, 5) read more text to find answer  and 6) save questions that cannot be answered for research.

SQ3R – Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review

QARs – Question-Answer Relationships Strategy helps children discover for themselves whether the questions they are being asked are explicitly answered in the text or require divergent thinking. Questions are broken up into literal (where answer is right there), inferential (think and search), critical (the author and me) and creative (on my own).

CISW- Cognitive Instruction Strategy in Writing strategy is based on 1)text analysis, 2) modeling, 3) guided practice, and 4) independent writing on a Think Sheet from page 104 of the text

The Metacognitive Strategy reminds students to think while they are reading by asking these questions:

  1. Am I reading too fast?
  2. Will the author explain if I continue reading?
  3. Should I reread what I just read?
  4. Should I study the maps, charts, or other aids the text has provided?
  5. Can I look up an unfamiliar word in dictionary?
  6. Should I talk to another classmate about this?
  7. Could the teacher help with this problem? (last resort)

This book was filled with very specific examples on how to use all of these strategies.

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