Friday, June 24, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Many different forms of inquiry are recognized, based on students’ curiosity and on their wanting and
needing to know more about the world. They are most successful when students’ questions and inquiries are
genuine and have real significance in helping them progress to new levels of knowledge and understanding.
The most insightful inquiries, ones most likely to move the students’ understanding further, come from
existing knowledge. (PYP Basis for Practice pp. 4)
Friday, June 10, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Technology is the obvious answer. The opportunity to reach out and connect your hunches with other people's. One of our jobs as educators - and I classify teachers, parents and peers under that umbrella - is to teach each other how to use these tools effectively in order to avoid the inevitable distractions that can result from it's exponential growth. There is much to be gained from the effective and appropriate use of technology.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
This presented me with a new challenge. How would my students show their knowledge and understandings of the inquiry? There wasn't even an inquiry for them to show their understandings of! Due to the timeframe, our choices were limited. It was either tuning in for our UOI or practice for the assembly.
I made the executive decision to front-load the students with a lot more information than I normally would. This worried me because I was wary of simply give my students the information that I figured was relevant. The result of this, of course, would be that they would be able to share their new knowledge with the rest of the school at our assembly (our focus was on fair trade).
The assembly went well and the kids were brilliant. But it was what happened in the next 4 weeks that really surprised me.
My students had such a great understanding of fair trade early on in the unit that they were able to apply it in many ways. This took the UOI to a whole new level and was definitely something that I didn't foresee. They integrated their understandings into their language focus, took meaningful action throughout the local community and could easily relate to formative and summative assessment tasks.
This got me thinking, how much I should be front loading my students during the tuning in stages of the inquiry cycle? My feelings of worry at the beginning of the UOI were alleviated throughout the remaining weeks as the students raised the bar. Perhaps I have 'under-tuned-in' in previous units, only skimming the conceptual surface in fear of effecting a more didactic approach to teaching? Perhaps I was allowing too much freedom and not providing enough guidance for their inquiry?
What occurred with this UOI reminded me that my students need to have acquired a certain level of knowledge and skills in order to make meaningful connections with the concepts they are focussing on. It is misguided of me to think that they will always be able to engage in deep and dynamic inquiry from the get go. The trick is finding the magic balance of providing them with enough information, through a constructivist approach, that will give them the opportunity to explore their learning with enthusiasm, confidence and curiosity.
I have been inspired to start blogging my reflections about education after being a regular follower of one of my colleague's blogs. She is a prolific writer and someone that I am very glad to have met through my new school, which I started at in August 2010. I've always found that writing my ideas and understandings helps me to organise my thoughts and I hope that will be the case with this blog.
I've learned a lot throughout my first year in Switzerland. My responsibilities as Team Leader for my grade have allowed me the opportunity to explore many facets of school life in greater detail than I ever have before. In many ways my learning has been fast-tracked as I am in an interesting position of being considered an experienced teacher of the Primary Years Program (PYP) despite it only being my sixth year teaching. I regularly take the opportunity to listen to more experienced practitioners than myself and decide which parts of their perspectives I agree or disagree with, and why.
I also see my position as a chance to set a positive example for my colleagues. One of the areas I have tried to raise the bar with in terms of my own practice is the effective use of ICT in the classroom. I have my own class blog, have organised on-line literature circle discussions with another school in Bejing and introduced my students (and myself!) to a variety of Web 2.0 tools for education.
I was reading a post tonight entitled 'Freedom vs Privacy'. One of the questions raised was that, with the availability of these types of publishing tools for the everyday user, are we becoming more accepting of mediocrity seeing as anyone can publish almost anything want, regardless of the quality?
This is something that has been a steep learning curve for me this year. In my excitement to introduce a new and exciting Web 2.0 tool I have sometimes lost sight of the processes involved with producing a piece of work that reflects the true ability of the author. I have sometimes accepted work from my students that may look great, but isn't an honest effort. It is a teacher's responsibility to continue to educate students on the importance and advantages of following the correct processes required to produce high quality pieces of work in any discipline. I do, however, believe that there has to be an intrinsic element to this, especially as the the nature of Web 2.0 means that a much greater majority of 'class work' can be published outside of the classroom. There should be no excuses for mediocrity.