Inquiry learning. This phrase carries a lot of baggage and misconception with it. Perhaps it is time to just focus on learning, what good learning is and how we can support our students to be better learners. It is time to stop walking in circles with inquiry learning, its time to focus on what good learning is and revise our teaching practice to fit that picture. This will raise challenges for schools.What are the challenges and how can we address them.
Trying to define inquiry learning is like trying to grab a bar of soap in the bath!
It's the "thing" that everyone is "doing" but it's not just a matter of choosing a model and doing it.
A lot of schools are going in circles because their focus is inquiry when it should be learning. We should be equipping our students to be better learners.
Q1. What is good learning? (not what is good inquiry?) Need to define learning as a school then dfine good/effective learning.
Trevor Bond's definition: Learning is change to one or more of these things - knowledge - understanding - world view - beliefs - opinions (weaken or strengthen) - values - attitudes - behaviours - skills - that is retained, able to be applied and able to be transferred.
NZC page 37. Curriculum is designed and interpreted in a three-stage process: as the national curriculum, the school curriculum, and the classroom curriculum. The national curriculum provides the framework and common direction for schools, regardless of type, size, or location. It gives schools the scope, flexibility, and authority they need to design and shape their curriculum so that teaching and learning is meaningful and beneficial to their particular communities of students. In turn, the design of each school’s curriculum should allow teachers the scope to make interpretations in response to the particular needs, interests, and talents of individuals and groups of students in their classes.
Q2. What are our learning goals? What are you trying to achieve through inquiry? This goal is surely about developing skills and attitudes... to be better learners. What is your school "graduate profile"? How will you know you've done a good job when your Year 6's leave? Build the curriculum to make your graduate profile happen.
Need to be focusing on developing competencies, should be using progress in competencies to assess effectiveness of programmes.
Curriculum coverage statements have been removed from NZC and NAG's.
What are your primary skill goals that will enable your students as connected engaged learners? What are your attitudinal goalsthat will enable your students as connected engaged learners? Establish success criteria associated with these questions.
Cross competency focus = cross competency attitude, cross competency skill - focus on growing skills and attitudes in students.
4 attitudes of life long learners = curiosity, open-mindesness, persistence, empathy.
6 skills of life long learners = ability to:
identify need or problem
identify, understand and use contextual vocabulary appropriately
ability to create and use relevant questions to guide thinking and gain information
acquire, validate and apply relevant information
create and critique information, argument, belief or theory
make informed decisions with due consideration of possible options, consequences and the impact on others.
Focus should be on core elements of learning i.e. taking students and moving them on.
Q3. What are the elements of good learning?
Start point for learning - question, task or concept? so schools should have a concept based curriculum or a task based curriculum or a question based curriculum.
Track "exposure" to the strands.
Q4. What is a good inquiry model?
Q5. What is good inquiry? An approach that delivers your goals SO what is your goal?
Good learning is a process of developing independence (not independence in terms of working alone but independently engaging with others to develop understandings) SO good inquiry is a process of developing independence.
Understandings are developed in the spaces between people.
Good learning = where a student moves towards independence on a growing foundation of literacy - learning is literacy in action.
If kids are not engaged = educational malpractice - so kill it! Teachers must be engaged - if not kill it!
When students are in learning to read stage major resources should be image based not text based.
Reading to learn is inquiry (but must be engaged), exploring learning through reading.
Scaffolding allows children access to learning - provides safety for learners as they build their understanding of learning process and as they develop their learning skills.
Q6. What are the in school barriers? Tie appraisal to schoolcurriculum being implemented well. If model is not delivering what you want then review it - continual reflection. Model needs to become part of school induction process.
What is measured gets done - measure literacy, numeracy, skills/attitudes.
STOP talking about inquiry, START talking about learning. Learning model NOT inquiry model - should work in any context.
Key message: Focus on good learning not inquiry.
Trevor Bond's website
Trevor Bond's NZC wiki
Trevor Bond's questioning wiki