A More Powerful Inquiry

One of my core educational values is Curiosity. Yet, in the past I have fallen into the trap of Inquiry = Research instead of a more open curious discovery process. One of the biggest pedagogical changes I have made was when I shifted to an inquiry approach that was about allowing students more time to dwell, think and discuss their questions on whatever the topic of study was at that time.

A lot of this had been intuitive practice so I was stoked when I first came across the Galileo Educational Network website and their intro to Inquiry (thanks Karen for the link!):

Intro to What is Inquiry from Galileo Education Network

Intro to What is Inquiry from Galileo Education Network

Prior to this I had usually thought of inquiry more as the information literacy type of inquiry where you are purposely following a series of steps in your investigation. Two of the best versions I had seen of this that had influenced my practice were: Continue reading

A Mindset for Learning

“If you haven’t failed in the classroom lately, you probably aren’t pushing the envelope enough. You are being too safe.” Dave Burgess

This blogpost is all about the word “mindset”. I know this has been around for a while but I first consciously came across the word Mindset at ICOT this year. It seems to have really grown on the world and in my consciousness this year and I see it everywhere now. There are many people out there selling tool kits or strategies that will make you a more effective teacher but I fundamentally believe there is no 1 correct answer for education. By having an open mindset we can make more of a difference.

My teaching mindset at the moment is heavily influenced by the following mindsets that I believe really complement each other to help me approach teaching with the enthusiasm (and hopefully effectiveness) that I do:

– Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset
– Design Thinking
– Teach Like a PIRATE
– Exploration mindset (heavily influenced here by Dan Raven-Ellison)

Continue reading

What would do most to improve the status of the teaching profession?

This post is written as part of the May 2013 #blogsync click here 
to read more of the blogs in this series

Teaching is New Zealand’s 11th most trusted profession. This shows that we have a long way to go in the eyes of the public. This is quite critical as in our decentralised power system where Boards of Trustees are the governors of the school, it is the public that we are actually responsible to.
Continue reading

Is Globalisation Good or Bad?

My Year 10s are working on a unit about Globalisation at the moment. We have done all the intro activities, looked at global economics, fashion, global links, globalisation at school and globalisation of media (including the class and me getting in trouble for writing in washable chalk on school buildings – must remember instruction of ground good wall bad for next time!). Today I split the class into random groups and gave them 2 lessons to investigate the 3 most positive aspects and 3 most negative aspects of globalisation. Essentially a basic research task but with the added critical thinking of what are the most important pros and cons.

The class know that they then have to give a 2-3 minute explanation to the class of their most positive and most negative aspects on Friday. To follow this up the class will enter a philosophical chairs discussion on “Is globalisation good or bad?” Continue reading

Year 10 Inquiry Questions (Hopefully Ungoogleable)

Our Year 10 class are studying how societies in the past have influenced modern times. To start this topic we focused on the Vikings for 2 weeks and looked at their contributions to law systems, marine technology and navigation. Now we are going to break up into an Inquiry phase based upon student interests around this theme. I gave the class the question development guide outlined here and these are the inquiry questions that they came up with (hopefully ungoogleable):

  • Has religion had a positive effect on society, and what would life be like without religion?
  • How did the gaming economy become what it is today?
  • How has the Victorian era influenced society today?
  • How did the French revolution affect the world?
  • How did Hitler’s actions impact on our lives today?
  • How does consumerism affect America?
  • What events in the past have made [student’s name] the way she is now? And how or why does this make her different?
  • How does the formation of the Soviet Union impact modern society?

Guide to Developing Good Questions

This question development guide was one first developed in a previous school which I have updated recently. The Word version of this is formatted nicely but this gives a good idea of how it works:

Brainstorm of your early ideas 

Questions/topics/areas/issues related to theme that you may be interested in developing further Continue reading

Points to Ponder from ICOT Wednesday & Thursday

Some statements and questions to reflect on from the breakouts I attended at ICOT on Wednesday and Thursday

Rose Hipkins

Embodied thinking is intuitive, ‘rational’ decisions are usually after-the-fact justifications
How do you develop students’ intuitive thinking?
Thinking in the spaces between individuals or ideas is a more apt metaphor for the changes afforded by information technologies
We need to push past our urge to stick with people like us. Learn to love difference – then you will learn
Epistemic experiences are moments when we become conscious of something about our knowing

Martin Renton – In the Learning Pit

Moving from clarity to confusion is a positive step in the learning process
No such thing as a bad question. The important part is the reason for asking the question
Get comfortable with silence, it helps us process our thinking
How often do you question to confuse your students

Hana Olds

Active thinking is where creative, critical and caring thinking overlap
Do your inquiries allow for passion, persistence and purpose?
“I don’t want a project, I want something with a purpose”

Rich Allen

Don’t just think differently, act differently
Good teachers are always learning from their students
Lesson plans are hallucinations

Karen Melhuish Spencer

Social networks privilege the individual, online communities privilege the relationship
Do you use social networks to check or challenge your thinking?
What social network has the most effective impact on your teaching? How? Can you prove this?
As educators we are morally obliged to share our practice for the good of all students