Thursday, May 30, 2013

Real Learning... Thinking through Inquiry

 I am publishing this inquiry post sharing how students take full ownership of learning.  We have been pursuing ownership of thinking and learning of curriculum based curiosities since September. I am reflecting on the inquiry process of the Middle Ages that began in April. It always amazes me how  excited and motivated students are when they own their learning and how curiosity drives learning. My role was just to guide not to instruct.

Curiosity is always provoked (in class we call it frontloading) through objects, news, pictures, read aloud, videos or a speaker. This Social Studies journey began through a picture of a modern knight in Ottawa who last year traveled across Canada preserving the love of culture. 

Students' discussion focused on the knight and the importance of preserving a culture. 

Students were aware that they would be exploring the Medieval Time in Social Studies. They individually began writing curiosity questions on the Middle Ages. In teams students shared their questions on chart papers. If team members were able to answer some questions sticky notes with an answer were added on, followed by group discussions that provoked more curiosity.    

Our curiosities are generally curriculum based, we do dedicate a curiosity block not curriculum oriented once week. Students unpacked the curriculum by focusing on the big ideas and the overall expectations. The purpose is to align their curiosity with the curriculum expectations for full responsibility and ownership of learning in achieving the big ideas. 

Students consolidated on their inquiry questions and categorized them based on curriculum expectations. 

What is important is to let students experiment first before I step in with required skills and strategies. I let the students find their own way first.

From the beginning Students took responsibility at building the French language through tasks and activities. In groups they explored, compared and co-constructed French language vocabulary supported by oral discussions. Students selected images off Google and wrote about their journey through medieval time. Students shared and compared their learning through a gallery walk of images and gathering learning. 

Oral, reading and writing strategies are applied throughout the inquiry process. Through many resources students analyze, annotate, determine important ideas and summarize. 

After reading and analyzing the information. Teams summarized to share their curiosity on a story board that was recorded using iMovie trailer or educreation. Teams went public sharing the process with their classmates. 

Every journey throughout the year has demonstrated that when students are given ownership of learning, learning is persistent, enhanced and easily amplified in class. What inspires me, is how I can always learn from my students and from each other in a never ending learning experiences on metacognition and the inquiry process. 

Here are some samples of team ideas on organizers: Using chart papers and Google extension Murally. 

During shared learning classmates took notes on organizers and confirmed learning by using audio Boo. 

iMovie evidence:

La vie en ville Pendant le Moyen Age

L'art de la joute

videos les maladies

video sur l'attaque

Audi Boo oral discusiions:

Audi Boo on La vie en ville.

Team discussion La ville en ville.

audi boo sur les maladies

I will continue updating as students continue sharing their learning process in class. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Finally Catching up 2013

I have FNALLY disciplined myself to catch up and publish some postings from Sept 2012.  Reflecting on former postings rippled into more reflective learning that never got published or shared.  Oh well, I will improve on the click of the"Publish" button! 

I will click the button today on a summary of learning from 2012 to May 2013. I always credit my students and the Learning network community online and my fellow colleagues on a whirlwind of new learning. Learning is real with my students, it is a conversation, listening, reflecting, observing, sharing, thinking, building on ideas and always relevant to real life. 

There are so many variables in the classroom and the school academic year that directly influence what works from one year to the next.  If learning is real, who would want to cover the same content activities with the students?  Giving students more control, ownership and responsibilities, that is the focus of my pedagogical approach. Yes of course is there really enough time to cover the process? we try! 

The positive gains with my students were and still are, that the learning process is transparent by allowing them to develop active inquiry taking all ideas and learning from each other (will update the inquiry post). This process also includes, a culture of questioning, listening and reflecting We also embrace that failure is fine as it is in the context of success and if we do not make mistakes then we are not learning.  Reflecting and consolidating are daily routines of how the process worked and what did not work in order to pursue in our learning. 

Our learning environment is always the center of collaborative decision making by handing the responsibility to students. Through this cooperative learning community, curiosity, questioning, listening and speaking are respected.  The core of this process involves daily reflections on our experiences. The fluidity of the process includes the co-construction of criterias, feedback,  group and individual goal settings (will update assessment post).  Parallel to the process is the culture of empathy, respect and making every one matter.

From September the focus has been on students designing their own thinking. Students were able to design the needs of collaboration through many tasks (September/October) . Questions that students unpacked during tasks include:
  • What is collaboration?
  • How to listen and speak with partners?
  • How to share ideas as a team?
  • Why is collaboration important?
  • How do I agree and disagree with my team? 
  • How does collaboration guide my learning with others and enhances my thinking?
  • What strategies do I need to share?
  • How do we compare and share our new learning?
  • How do I ask questions for clarification? 

It is always important to set the collaborative culture environment in and out of the classroom. Through many tasks on collaboration the students created the following tools:
  • A team box that included a talking stick (watched a video on talking sticks).  In the box, team members signs/name tags using foam on colored Popsicle sticks, clothe pins to attach to the name tag when the student is ready for discussion or ready to share & sticky notes of all sizes in each box.
  •  Daily questions on news events were presented to encourage oral communication and create situations for teams to build success criteria on listening and speaking and provoke curiosity. 
  • Activities that also covered the importance of a learning goal.
  • Daily reflections on learning goals.
The following are activities that students co-constructed:

 Links are on Google drawing about conversations on daily needs. 

           Travail en équipe   Les outils en équipe  Les sacs d’école  L’évier  L'eau
           The students  also learnt to use Google Drawing.

Some examples of building Collaborative Criteria:

Gr 4 collaborative skills discoveries: 
 Gr 4 students: also took pictures of themselves demonstrating collaborative criteria.

Gr 4 bubbles for everyday necessities

A slide of pictures on why I matter Gr 4 and Gr6 projects: