WHAT- A VTR to identify relevant questions and guide inquiry

Before we embark on a new unit or concept in our learning spaces, it is imperative to evaluate our student’s knowledge of the subject. Checking in with their current information is a terrific way to recognize where to initiate teaching and learning. You may have to start explaining the basics or may be able to jump right into asking the students about questions that they have about the concept.


Questions in an inquiry classroom

Inquiry classrooms are all about requesting the students to put forth their burning questions and encouraging them to take the lead while answering them. However, I frequently find that zeroing into a relevant question is a problematic proposition, especially for younger students. They want to know everything about everything, and while questions abound, separating the meaty ones from the ones that skim the surface is a learned skill. Therefore, before we even begin inquiring or researching, the students should sort the questions to understand which ones will give meaning to the inquiry process.

The process before inquiry begins

Pitching questions

Once you present the concept to the students and determine how much they know about it already, ask them about their burning questions while moving forward. They should write their questions on post-its and paste them on a chart paper while other learners do a gallery walk of the queries. If you are working online, you can request the learners to work on Google JamBoard using stickies.

Questions about ‘waste’ taken through Google JamBoard

Sorting the questions and beginning the VTR

The learners need to go through the questions and reflect on which ones are the most relevant and need to investigate first. At this point, you will give them the WHAT VTR.

W-H-A-T Visible Thinking Routine

W-Which questions do you consider the most relevant?

Learners will write one to two questions that intrigue them the most. They will need to bear in mind that the questions should not just be related to facts but should deepen their understanding. If you would like to add an extra strategy to sort questions here, please visit this link for the Four Quadrant Strategy- https://reviewmirror.in/2021/05/16/the-four-quadrant-strategy-teach-learners-to-ask-the-right-questions/

H- How do you think this question will impact your inquiry journey

This section will be the student’s justification for the ‘W’ question. If a student has selected a superficial question, they will most often self-correct when they are unable to explain why the question is worthy of exploration. If they would like to change their question for one with more depth, they may do so.

A- A resource that you will need to answer it

Learners will create a mind map or a list of primary or secondary sources to help them move forward with their inquiry. These resources can range from surveys and interviews to watching videos and analyzing case studies. Allow students to pick material that suits their learning style, which creates an ethos of diversity in the classroom.

They may also create a table or leave space for their citations in this section as they continue to research.

T- Takeaway from your research

At this junction, learners will note their findings and research material in an organized manner. Their main takeaways, as well as inquiry branches (additional questions and answers), can come in this section. They may also use various platforms to present their work, such as PowerPoint presentations, Flipgrid Videos, Sways, and more.


The WHAT visible thinking routine is a brilliant tool for differentiation as each child plays to his or her strengths and demonstrates mastery over the chosen question as well as the presentation platform. For more VTRs created by me to encourage inquiry in the classroom, please visit-https://reviewmirror.in/2021/07/16/new-visible-thinking-routines-vtrs-to-encourage-inquiry/


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