Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Book Review: Dive Into Inquiry by Trevor MacKenzie

When I was at ISTE this past year, I had the pleasure of meeting fellow Canadian (and UVic alum!) Trevor MacKenzie when we were both volunteering and presenting at the EdTech Team booth. I had seen his books around beforehand and was interested in reading them, but I developed a new sense of urgency after listening to him speak about he personalizes the learning for his students. I was amazed and wanted to find out more, so I got myself a copy of his first book: Dive Into Inquiry and had a read.

In the book, MacKenzie outlines not only several reasons for changing the way we teach, but also gives a very comprehensive guide on how you could do so. This way of thinking is something extremely relevant with Matua Ngaru School planning on using a lot of inquiry in our collective practice when we open in 2019.

The book begins with discussing how we can co-construct learning with our students and how that leads to the redefinition of the role of a teacher. By allowing learners to co-construct their learning they have a greater buy-in to the process and more authentic learning naturally comes. This also necessitates a change what we do, to support this. We are not the expert that dispenses knowledge. We are also the "coach, facilitator, networker and shoulder-to-lean-on." MacKenzie describes several qualities that we educators need to have and helps those not so far along in the journey think about how they can support their learners in a different manner.

After a discussion on how to assess inquiry, the book goes on to discuss the four types of student inquiry: Structured Inquiry, Controlled Inquiry, Guided Inquiry & Free Inquiry, all of which are displayed below in this wonderful sketchnote by Trevor himself.

All too often, schools hear about Inquiry and jump into the deep end, not allowing the children to learn the necessary skills to complete a successful inquiry (though, again, the book does discuss the idea that a successful inquiry doesn't necessarily mean having a polished creation at the end of it - sometimes failure and challenge is a better indication of learning).

MacKenzie then spends the remainder of the book looking in-depth into Inquiry, and specifically Free Inquiry. He uses lots of sketchnotes to help show the process and key ideas. All of his inquiry projects start with the Four Pillars of Inquiry, illustrated below:

These are basically a guide as to how a learner can approach an inquiry. It should fit into at least one of the pillars for the inquiry to be meaningful. The next steps of the inquiry are outlined in the following sketchnote: 

I could go on and on about the details that are presented, but my advice to you is to get a copy of the book and read it yourself. There are tons of great ideas to facilitate each of these steps, as well as anecdotes and links to projects that have been completed. Many educators have probably had some experience with this way of teaching, and no doubt there are many similarities. This does not mean that this is the ONLY way of doing inquiry. You've got to do what works for your learners and for you in your specific context. But this book will definitely make you think and will inspire you as well. I personally can't wait to read his next book, Inquiry Mindset (yeah, I know, I'm a bit behind the times...)

If you're interested in finding out more about what Trevor has done and is doing check out his website at

1 comment:

  1. Wow! We have some of those pics on a slide that we looked at as a staff just this week! Almost eerie that two whole sets of leadership staff are planning and discussing the same type of thing!! So cool too. All the best partner in crime!