Inquiry Learning
Effective inquiry learning is learning that shifts your students from knowing about things to understanding about things - and understanding is so much more than knowledge! In this 'What a pest! unit our intention is that the students really gain an understanding as to how Aotearoa-New Zealand became so 'pesty' and what each one of us can do about tackling the problem. With understanding comes the ability to problem-solve and to take action.
For an inquiry to be really meaningful it needs to hook your students right from the start and be relevant to their world. In this respect the pest theme fits perfectly into the local and national conversations around Aotearoa-New Zealand becoming predator free by 2050. [See Banks Peninsula and NZ-wide]

You will see in our What a Pest! teacher/facilitator guide we have 6 sessions in the Getting Hooked section, which aims to set the scene, tease out questions the students may have (using a Wonder Wall approach) and explore terms they may come across. It's useful at this early stage to either bring in a person who has experience dealing with pest eradication/control or take the class on a exploration of a local bush environment many of them may regularly visit to get them seeing, listening and thinking about how it could be different if predators were excluded from it. Students in your class could plan and organise one or other or both of these activities; some may have parents active in this area or know of experts they could invite in. There's rich learning in their taking on the organisational role.

Session 6 of the initial section is about exploring a provocative statements and imagining the future. The main provocative statement is: 'Pest control is expensive - is it worth it?'. From experience this engenders some robust discussion and begins the process of problem-solving. The regular reflection sessions (some helpful starter questions are provided in the teacher guide) are useful for encouraging the students to think deeply and consider other people's points of view.

As you use our unit of learning please keep to the forefront of your mind what key understanding you want your students to walk away with and why you want them to understand it. This is useful to explore as a teaching team beforehand either with or without input from an Environment Canterbury facilitator. How does it fit with your team's overall theme for the term or year? Is it meeting curriculum learning objectives, vision and values? If you can't nail down what it is you want them to get from the experiences and why it's important for them to understand then there's maybe no point doing this unit as an inquiry.

As a Youth Engagement team at Environment Canterbury we are keen that children and young people gain an understanding of how they can be actively involved in enhancing our native biodiversity through pest or predator control. By becoming 'Pest Detectives' they gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of one pest species, which they share with the rest of the class as well as an invited audience. They may by working with relevant stakeholders, also develop an action plan to control or eradicate a pest species in their local area. This action plan, and the learning that came beforehand, can be shared with other classes via this Wikispaces or through other networks.

For other sources of information on developing an effective inquiry learning cycle visit: