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    Transformative Inquiry-Based Learning with the Wabisabi Inquiry Cycle

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    Transformative Inquiry-Based Learning with the Wabisabi Inquiry Cycle

    We're huge fans of the power of inquiry-based learning here at Wabisabi. Over the past decade we have been working with over 120,000 educators in 20 countries using inquiry-based learning approaches. We've seen firsthand how effective they can be in transforming all aspects of learning.

    However, truly transformative inquiry-based learning does more than just build learners' independence and increase their academic performance. Ultimately, it gives them a natural lifelong learning pathway they can use again and again. It's the reason why we developed the Wabisabi Inquiry Cycle, and why we share it with educators all over the world.

    The infographic we're presenting in this article sums up our inquiry process simply and effectively. You'll find it a useful reference tool for developing high-quality inquiry units like the ones you'll find on the Wabisabi app.



    The Wabisabi Inquiry Cycle

    Inquiry is the foundation of what learning is all about—having a burning question and a thirst to find the answer. The Wabisabi Inquiry Cycle represents natural learning that begins with an essential question and then follows an intuitive pathway of deeper exploration and joyful discovery.

    The components of this cycle are the Global Concept, the Essential Question, and the 4 Cs. Together, they define the essence of meaningful inquiry-based learning quests.


    The Global Concept is the overarching concept or greater purpose behind the inquiry—the “big idea.” It is broad in scope and will often be summed up in only one word (e.g. Sustainability, Belonging, Inclusion, Responsibility).


    This is the driving question that sets the inquiry cycle in motion. It’s the focus of the lesson, and from this more specific or “herding” questions will arise.

    THE 4 Cs


    These are mostly content or concept related; they are things that our learners are expected to know. We call this curious because research suggests if there is no connection to the learning, it won’t happen. Our job is to create or inspire that curiosity.


    Connection is the synthesis of ideas and information to gain new insights and understandings. It can’t be taught—it’s the “Aha!” moment. Because this is also about connecting to the learning context, it is one of the most significant advantages of inquiry learning.


    At some point in a learning journey we must communicate essential understandings, which are the intended outcomes of the curriculum. This is often done using mediums that speak to us personally and allow us to express ourselves fully.


    In Math and Science this is charts, graphs, equations, solutions, illustrations, and experiments. In English and Social, it’s the multiple forms of speaking and writing. Often these are things that are assessed to demonstrate the learning, so the curriculum is full of them.


    The Wabisabi Inquiry Cycle results in a truly transformative learning experience. We have questioned, explored, discovered, and we have addressed the curriculum through a personal connection, and as such have been motivated to learn and continue learning through this cycle.

    As our learning progresses, more and more questions will surface that lead us back through the cycle of inquiry.


    You and your learners can begin your own journey together with the Wabisabi app—a place where real transformation can happen in learning.

    Explore top-notch unit plans built by us for the best inquiry adventures ever, plus features like real-time reporting against standards, media-rich student portfolios, custom classrooms, and more. Discover the Wabisabi app and see the possibilities for yourself.

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