Friday, June 5, 2009


I know that part of the process for me will be working out how to use my blog as I go along and right now that is causing me frustration.

For example I would like to be able to create tabs on my page that sort my posts according to categories so that it can be organised using the headings we got in our class handout e.g. literature, research, contacts, meetings etc. But although I have done some searching and exploring I have yet to find a way to do this.

I may have to seek 'expert' help - or may just muddle my way through - it just seems at the moment that a running stream organised chronologically is too simple and messy and that there has to be an easier way.

My other concern at the moment is how to include visual mind maps etc. on my blog - I'm sure there must be a way. I am a visual person and if I was producing my journal as a scrapbook I would have pages of brainstormed ideas and interconnections - e.g. this is what our 'wonderings' page is meant to be for. But how can I do this here? It would be great if there was a way to link to one of the mind-mapping programmes that we used in ICT class - I guess I'll add it to my growing list of things to do!!

Starting to think differently.....

At the beginning of this whole inquiry project, before the classes started, I took some time to think about what I was really passionate about in terms of education. Who did I want to be as a teacher, what was my developing teaching philosophy, what impact did I want to have on the students that I teach?

My thinking all lead to one rather cliched response.....I want to make a difference to the lives of the students that I teach. At a shallow level, we all will make a difference to students simply because we will be in the classroom each and every day. BUT, more importantly, what kind of difference did I want to make? This got me thinking......

I remember in my first week of high school being told something that would probably become the most powerful moment of my education journey thus far......"By the end of this year I want each of you to think for yourselves. I want you to give me your opinions, not those of your mums or dads. I want to know what you think, and why." At the time I was somewhat annoyed, 'how dare this teacher tell me that it wasn't ok to think the same thing as my parents!'. With time I realised that I had totally missed the point of her comment. It wasn't so much about being 'right' or 'wrong', 'similar' or 'dissimilar', it was about starting to develop my own beliefs as an individual, and standing up for what I believed in.

Through my tertiary education it was this belief in wanting to make a difference that drove me, at times to put myself in difficult situations where I questioned whether it was worth challenging the status quo, whether 'making a point of difference' was really getting me anywhere. But along the way there were moments where I realised that the most important thing I could do was to be honest to myself. I remember telling the interview panel for a highly competitive government job that I "was philosophically opposed to quantitative research methods which put people into boxes". At the time I thought I had shot myself in the foot. A month later when I got the job over 250 other grads I realised that my honesty and conviction was probably the most important thing I brought with me to that interview.

And so now I am in the position where like that high school social studies teacher, I want to be the one that pushes the boundaries, who challenges the status quo, both within education as a discipline, but also one who challenges students to see the world in a richer way. I want to develop critical thinkers, students who want to make a difference in the world and who are equipped to be creative and innovative thinkers in their lives.

I remember the first time I watched the TED talk by Ken Robinson - watching it I seemed to find someone who made sense, who was saying many of the things I had been grappling with as a trainee teacher - the conflict between creativity and expectations places on us as teachers. I have a link to the video here:

So where did all this get me?

I started to be interested in the teaching pedagogy. I was interested in exploring ways in which we could make our teaching practices relevant to the lives of the students we were teaching. I also wanted to ensure that teaching and learning were collaborative approaches for the teacher and students. This led to an interest in interactive pedagogies and ultimately to my decision to explore the use of blogs in the classroom as an interactive multimedia which draws on new literacies and takes learning into the 21st century.

And so begins my journey.......I am not sure where I will be going and what the end outcome will be - but I hope to explore the ways in which blogs are being used in the classroom to expand our understandings of literacy and allow for interaction and collaboration between students, teachers and the wider community.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Inquiry – notes from sessions prior to starting and Week 1 of Inquiry – Whole Class Session

Inquiry - first session (2 weeks prior to starting)

Be careful with the use of the term ‘project’ within inquiries.

Whatever you decide to come up with. It is something that you can apply to your own learning and to schools.

So what? – there is going to be a positive consequence one way or another – our chance to make a difference for you as a learner and others as a consequence of what you are doing.

Why is inquiry different to research?

Inquiry is doing something with the information you have gathered. How do you apply it? It is a recursive model – there are stages that you might move through and you often come back to the earlier stages (it’s not linear).

Refer to A3 handout – See ‘Lift Off to Learning’ – Michael Pohl (there are CDs as part of the resource). 3 hour and 3 day loan in the library. Especially good in terms of the questioning stage.

Immersion stage – explore some of the deviations along the way. At other times you might meet road blocks along the way.

Sign into Gazette and sign into online job alerts. Lots of jobs now want teachers to have inquiry experience.

A desk is a form of control and is education from ‘the waist up’. There are all sorts of things to achieve in the classroom if you allow children to begin this process (and high levels of independence that they can take in terms of their learning).

EDIS 723 Student Net Site

160 hours of learning.

Pass/Fail course (but written feedback give n which is valuable for applying for positions)

Fill in sheet to hand in the last immersion session to Sue’s office T305

Check out Mancala game

Banks Ave model of inquiry is being developed at the moment.

Refer to A4 handout

Need to have a journal (A4) – A4/A3 is the best size for sticking in things. Bring one to the next immersion lesson.

Choice Words – the power of the teacher and their language in the classroom


Integrating interactive multimedia into literacy programmes using classroom blogs. Things to consider: pedagogical reasons for justifying technology, internet safety, code-switching/text language – how do students move between these different literacies. Think about digital literacy/multiple literacies.

Inquiry Session Week prior to starting - visiting speakers

Have a timeline

Inquiry is big in the schools – think about how you would do it in the classroom!

Think about info and sources – don’t overwhelm yourself

Do lots of journaling and reflecting – use your diary – as is reflecting on the journey at the end. Can also use this in job interviews.

Relate your practice to your project – reflective practitioners – you can’t do an inquiry without reflective practice. Also models to students that we are lifelong learners.

Ways to integrate inquiry into your classroom:
Teachers need to be consistently changing and thinking about their practice to improve it for their students. Look at the tiny little things.
- gather people around you
- professional learning situations – lots of learning happens here – knowledge is pooled and developed – makes you feel valued
- relationship with students grows and builds in a way that you have never seen before

We make connections with other learning but in the end it is your own practice that will change. Your beliefs are valid and important and personal to you.

Match a model to it – this just happened during the process.

Handout – final article from Quest site - this will show you what you are going to gain from the inquiry.

Synectics Model – Jay Gordon – brings in creativity aspect

Presentations – be careful with a Mac


(see powerpoint too)

Students can answer low-level questions without thinking.

Students enter/exit classrooms with no more understanding of
what they've learned than "The Griney Groller" taught you!

We want students to engage in thinking at a deeper level. Importance of asking higher order questions – to ‘unpack’. The new curriculum wants students to use their thinking skills to create new knowledge.

Art Kosta – ‘Habits of Mind’
e.g. persistence, listening with empathy, thinking about thinking, ability to question and ability to determine accuracy etc.

Need to think about classroom cultures and constructing questions to encourage higher level thinking (see diagrams on powerpoint). Print off new Bloom’s taxonomy.

Establishing our Big Questions: we need balance, process is just as important as the product. Look at independent skills – frame learning around higher order questions.

Essential questions are:

- open-ended and resist a simple single right/wrong answer
- deliberately thought provoking counterintuitive and/or controversial
- require students to draw upon content knowledge and personal experience
- can be revisited throughout the unit
- lead to other essential questions posed by students

See ICE principle

Mentor Group Notes

Nikki Davidson – contact for assistance with setting up blog site
Presentation – new facility – can we use this for our presentations – Otakaro
Contact: Kirwee School; Cobham Intermediate; Fendalton School