Stage 1: Initiating and eliciting


A list of suggested activities for this stage of enquiry can be found in the 'try it' section.

Digital tools

Use the online digital tools database in the 'try it' section to search for tools by cost, stage of enquiry, and keywords.

Case studies

Ideas wall

Teachers were preparing their Year 8 group to define and carry out their own whole-class project. The students were told their project focus was up to them, but that they would have to agree as a group on the most popular idea. The teachers asked the students to write down on post-it notes as many ideas, questions or problems that they could think up and would like to do a project about. They also put up four large poster-size sheets of paper on the walls, headed ‘easy’, ‘silly’, ‘hard’ and ‘impossible’. The students posted their notes in the relevant categories. Then they circulated around the room reading all of the ideas and questions, adding any other notes, endorsements or additional questions if they wanted. The teachers ran a short group discussion about some of the questions and ideas, asking students why they had categorised some as silly or hard and so on. They added another poster to the wall, headed ‘worth doing’, and students then chose the idea or question that most appealed to them and moved the relevant post-it note there. The teachers organised a class voting system, based on proportional representation, so that students all got two votes for their favoured two ideas.

Talking heads video

A teacher was working with a group of Year 8 students for the first time. He told them they were doing a project that was about students posing themselves difficult problems and questions which they could then investigate and attempt to solve themselves. He showed them a television advertisement from the TDA (Teacher Development Agency) in which a number of students ask a variety of questions; some challenging, some a little odd. The students, working in small groups of three, then came up with lots of their own ideas and questions, which they wrote down as a spider diagram on large sheets of paper. In the next lesson, the teacher set up a video camera in the corner of the classroom, and asked students to make their own version of the advertisement, based on their own questions, problems and ideas. At the end of the lesson they watched the video and the teacher saved it as a record of ideas for later use.

Beat the teacher

In one session, teachers encouraged students to understand that during Enquiring Minds lessons lots of different sorts of knowledge are valued. The class spent 15 minutes playing ‘Beat the teacher’. The teachers took on the role of ‘incredibly knowledgeable’ teachers, and challenged the students to ask questions that the teachers would not be able to answer. The teachers sat in the centre of the classroom, with students sitting around them. One student was responsible for tallying the score on the board. Taking it in turns, students asked the teachers any questions they could think up. At the end of the challenge, the teachers had only been able to answer a few of the students’ questions. Afterwards, the teachers claimed that they did not have a big syllabus to follow, and that the students would be responsible for shaping the content of the lessons. By playing the game, the students had revealed that they already had lots of knowledge that the teachers knew nothing about.

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