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Student-Led Inquiry at CGK

Column June 15, 2023

There is a lot of information about student-led inquiry, but what does it actually look like in the classroom? What does it mean when students are leading the direction of the learning as opposed to following the lessons that the teacher creates?

What follows is an example of how student-led learning occurs at CGK. This is from an actual grade one lesson in the ‘Who We Are’ Unit of Inquiry in IB.


Grade 1 lung


The central idea of this inquiry was ‘Our body is a collection of different systems that depend on each other.’ Through this unit, the students studied five different systems in the body - Skeletal, Muscular, Nervous, Respiratory and Circulatory. But when we were learning about the respiratory system, a student asked the following question:


‘My Grandfather had lung cancer. What is cancer?’


This is a very deep question and opened up a new line of inquiry for the class. In student-led learning, teachers follow the students and the inquiries/questions that they have. 

So, in the next lesson, we learned about cancer. But this then raises another question:


What do you need to understand in order to understand what cancer is?




Firstly, we need to understand that the body is made up of cells. We also need to understand that these cells multiply. Only then can we understand that cancer is caused when cells multiply incorrectly - there is a miscopy. This creates a growth known as a tumor, and this tumor is cancer.

This then led the class into investigating behaviors that cause cancer such as smoking, eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol and too much Sun. The students came up with healthier alternatives and created a poster to demonstrate their knowledge. 


unhealthy food


In a student-led classroom it is the student questions that decide the lines of inquiry. By following this particular line of student inquiry regarding cancer, the students experienced deep lessons that they were fully engaged in, and learned ways in which they could take better care of their bodies.


Here is the slides that show more student-led information in grade 1 classroom at CGK!

Student Led Inquiry Slides

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Martin  -  Elementary HR Teacher  (Australia)Australia

Elementary HR teacher of CGK International School. From Australia.
Graduated from Queensland University of Technology, Australia. Internationally award-winning film-maker, TV writer, novelist, playwright, and an accomplished guitarist and vocalist of the band Mamonaku.

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