Enhancing Instruction in Inquiry-Based Early Literacy Classrooms

Meridith Ann Lovell-Johnston, Sonia Mastrangelo, Tracy McPhail, Becky Kennedy, Crystal Carbino, Kelsey Robson


Ontario’s Kindergarten Program document (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2016) advocates for student-directed and inquiry- and play-based pedagogies to support four- and five-year-old children’s learning. In practice, educators’ understanding and implementation of inquiry-based pedagogies varies considerably. Our study sought to bridge theory and practice through collaboration between a faculty of education and a local school board to support pre- and in-service educators’ understanding of inquiry-based pedagogy. It also sought to help these teachers integrate opportunities for embedded literacy instruction. We used classroom observations, pre- and post-surveys and workshops to determine educator and teacher candidates’ understanding of inquiry and early literacy. Overall, educators expressed a positive inclination towards inquiry-based pedagogy and early literacy instruction; however, their implementation of these varied. Through concrete learning experiences, reflection and facilitation, educators’ understanding improved and they began to implement ideas from the workshops into their practice. Our results highlight the need to improve training and support for kindergarten educators to enable them to implement inquiry-based pedagogies effectively and build vital literacy skills through embedded learning. This has direct implications for local and provincial policy and for children’s ability to learn, build skills and become successful readers.


kindergarten; inquiry; literacy; teacher education; professional development

Full Text: