Sunday, 17 November 2013

A New Year-New Challenges and New Learning!

November 17, 2013

It's a new year and I'm a shade late with my first post but better late than never! It's a new year, a new class and a new set of challenges!

The year has been a blur so far, it could be because I'm busy. . . very busy. . . .between Senior Soccer, Senior Volleyball, Junior Intramurel Futsal, PD and the new experience of a task force at the board office life is busy BUT I wouldn't want it any other way!

This brings me to my other news, for this school year, many of my posts on this blog will be a journal of sorts based on my work on a Grade 6 Task Force focusing on social justice. Other topics that have already come up include the new Ontario social studies curriculum, inquiry and the connection to literacy.

We had our first meeting about a month ago, a half day meet and greet, I was so nervous! It was wonderful! There was so many great ideas and amazing discussions going on in classrooms around our board!

We were given some readings to get started and I thought I would mention my thoughts on the first reading I did. We have another meeting next week and I can't wait to see how that day goes. Here are some thoughts from the readings I did so far :)

We were asked to read Comprehension and Collaboration by Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels, Chapter 4: What We Know About Inquiry.

Here are my thoughts:
-There is a chart comparing the Inquiry Approach vs the Coverage Approach, as I read this part I had an overwhelming feeling of uncomfortableness (is that a word?) as I am not well versed in the inquiry approach. The ideas of the ambiguity and open ended activities is difficult for me, I like to know how to follow a path, lesson, vision. The idea that I'm not sure where the learning could take us is new. . . .one that will take me some time to be comfortable with. I have tried some inquiry tasks in class and they have gone okay, it could just be the chart :)

-In another section the discussion focuses on how students should leave the classroom with lots of questions and the yearning to explore so I thought how can this translate to my classroom, my plan: to have a board that is a question board, students can put questions they want answers to on that board and each day we'll pull a pair of names to have students search to find that answer, it could lead to a discussion of research and reliable sources amongst other things.

-Burning question: there is discussion of small inquiry circles, my question: are they ability based or interest based?

-There is discussion about collaboration and how even as adults it is challenging at times, I am so glad they mentioned this, my classroom deals with this hurdle every day and I realize that even as adults some struggle to work with others.

-Tangents: I breathed a sigh of relief when this was mentioned, I always worry that tangents are bad and I realize it's okay, we can veer off, especially if students are engaged!

-Internet: it's a great thing but there is so much junk, there was actually a post on our board conference about some activities to get students examining the sources they use, I think this would be great to use with students, especially after the other day when we got out the netbooks to do some research and I could hear all over the room, "I'm on Wikipedia. . . . ."

-Lastly: Simulations were mentioned as a curriculum model for inquiry oriented instruction. As you might remember we did several simulations last year and I discussed those in some earlier posts. I am currently planning on doing a G20 one with Grade 6s as well as one to model what it feels like for 3rd, 2nd and 1st world nations based on an activity I did at a HOBY (Hugh O'Brien Youth Foundation) conference. I am thrilled to think I was doing something with a connection to inquiry and didn't even realize it :)

I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you use inquiry in your classroom, are you embracing it or is it challenging?

Kathleen :)

1 comment:

  1. As a second year teacher learning to teach grade 4 for the first time, I find inquiry very challenging and have only used it hear and there. I agree that the biggest hurdle right now is our comfort level with the inquiry idea as well as the idea of not knowing the answers to the students questions. It is a huge change of mindset for both the student and the teacher, but I know with effort it can be done. I look forward to this shift in the classroom, however I do very much hope that there will be enough PD and resources offered to support teachers through the shift. Having support and resources makes all the difference.