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Above Image: Five students holding tomato plants at ages ranging from one day to four months

What is it?

An Inquiry Summary learning strategy is used to make conclusions and summarize various aspects of an inquiry, including the testable question, predictions/hypotheses, observations and data, conclusions, and discussion.

Why use it?

  • To provide students with a framework for compiling and summarizing inquiry questions, predictions and observations in order to make conclusions and reflect on their inquiries.
  • To provide students the opportunity to review and connect the steps of the inquiry process.
  • To integrate and support the development of literacy skills, such as summarizing, describing, explaining and presenting arguments.
  • To enable educators to assess student understanding of inquiry processes.

How do I use it?

  • Before using this strategy, introduce its purpose to the students and provide a structured example to teach and model expected behaviours for each subsection of the report including expected content, style, and desired format.
  • Provide individual students and/or student groups with a copy of the Inquiry Summary Template to use (see the Tools and Templates section). You may want to adapt the inquiry summary templates provided to best suit the specific explorations and inquiries your class is conducting. For example, insert customized observing and recording templates and tools that work best with the types of observations and data students are collecting.
  • Before students conduct their inquiry, you may want to have them complete the sections of the summary template that correspond to the aspects of the inquiry process that precede conducting any inquiry. That is, identifying the question that initiated the inquiry and developing a prediction and/or hypothesis related the inquiry question.
  • Once the inquiry has been completed, review the steps of the inquiry and the results of the inquiry with your students in order to support completion of the inquiry summary.
  • Support students in developing and composing the subsections of the inquiry report as necessary.

Tips for success

  • To aid student recall of inquiry steps and processes, have students draft the different sections of the report as they are working through the inquiry process.
  • Have students insert any additional pages such as tables, charts and or graphs of their data and observations as necessary.
  • Incorporate other Tomatosphere™ inquiry learning strategies to assist students in developing/writing specific subsections of the inquiry report. For example, use the Conclusions-Evidence-Reasoning strategy to scaffold writing evidence-based conclusions.


  • Assign specific aspects of the inquiry report to individual members of a team to complete and have the students combine the sections they have completed into a final document.
  • Put the inquiry report template into a Google doc format that can be added to and easily edited by students during the inquiry progresses.
  • Have students prepare audiovisual or oral presentations using their written inquiry report as a summary of key content to include.

Tools and Templates:

Seed Investigation Inquiry Summary – K-3, M-Elementary 2 pdf doc

Seed Investigation Inquiry Summary – 4-6, Elementary 2-3 pdf doc

Inquiry Summary - Seed Investigation - 7-12, Secondary I-V pdf doc

Inquiry Summary - Template - K-3, M-Elementary 2pdf doc

Inquiry Summary Template – 4-6, Elementary 2-3 pdf doc

Inquiry Summary - Template - Grade 7-12, Secondary I-V pdf doc