At the K280 School of Journeys, we adhere to an inquiry-based philosophy. According to Lilian Katz, inquiry is an in-depth investigation of a topic worth learning more about. Inquiry is a research effort deliberately focused on finding answers to questions about a topic posed either by the children, or by the teacher based on observations of student curiosities or “wonderings”. Ultimately, the aim of inquiry is to learn more about the topic rather than focusing on finding the “right” answers.
An important feature of the inquiry approach is that children ask questions that guide the investigation and make decisions about the activities to be undertaken. We are also inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to teaching and learning. The Reggio Emilia philosophy is based upon the following set of principles:
● Children must have some control over the direction of their learning;
● Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, and observing.
● Children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world
that children must be allowed to explore.
● Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.
We believe that the classroom environment is the child’s “second teacher”. Therefore, the physical environment is set up to look as welcoming as possible. Furniture and materials are well-maintained and organized so as to support independence.
Materials are placed in locations accessible to children and are labeled with pictures and words so as to promote independence, literacy and order. Teachers rotate materials in their learning centers to promote curiosity and engagement. Whenever possible, materials in learning centers should support students’ inquiry work and/or research topics. In all learning centers, materials are to be used in an open-ended, process-oriented manner. There is no right or wrong way to use art materials, blocks, table toys, science and sensory materials, or dramatic play props.
At K280 School of Journeys, we consider the neighborhood surrounding our school to be the students’ “second classroom”. Classes will partake in journeys, at a minimum of three times per week, throughout the school year. Students are encouraged to share their observations and express their “wonderings” during these outings. We encourage our students to bring journey notebooks to document their discoveries. These observations often lead the way to inquiry topics that can be further researched in the classroom and on additional journeys.