Inspired by Simone Reilly’s recent post on this blog about teachers as inquirers and Edna Sackson’s encouragement, I decided to share a bit about how teachers at the elementary division of Lincoln Community School, Accra, are being inquirers this year.
At the beginning of the school year, our newly formed Learning Council conducted a survey to find out in which top three areas teachers were interested regarding professional growth goals for the current academic year. While teachers mentioned a wide variety of areas of interest (e.g. technology, concepts, differentiated math instruction), a strong interest to learn more about inquiry-based teaching and learning stuck out. Our Learning Council came up with the fantastic idea, to combine the learning about inquiry with individual growth goals in other areas.
Every elementary teacher will go through an inquiry process (following the stages of Kath Murdoch’s Inquiry Cycle), while pursuing his/her professional goal for the year. For this purpose, we have been divided into inquiry groups, depending on our interests, i.e. technology inquiry group, concepts inquiry group, and language arts inquiry group. Each group is facilitated by one of our colleagues from the Learning Council. While we each pursue a specific topic, we come together as a leaning community regularly to share and support each other in our inquiries.
This is how our inquiry is set up:
“Inquiry is a pedagogical approach used across the curriculum.”
Form – What is inquiry in this context (i.e. the selected area of interest such as technology, concepts, language arts)?
Function – How does inquiry work in this context?
“As you go through this inquiry process stop to reflect on each stage. Document in the evidence column what you did at each stage and your understandings. You may also like to attach any other form of evidence for the different stages, e.g. photos, action plans, research etc.”
For the Tuning In stage, we were provided with the following guiding questions:
What do I know?
How does this connect to me in my teaching practice?
What do I want to know?
We first met as a faculty and brainstormed and discussed our definitions of and beliefs about inquiry. Then we reflected on the teacher’s/student’s role during this stage. Next, our facilitators provided provocations for each area of interest. For example, Sarah Pickles, the facilitator for the group conducting an inquiry into the use of technology, set up various stations in our IT lab for teachers to explore some tech tools (e.g. iPad, flip cam, Web 2.0 tools such as Voicethread and Wikispaces). Then we met as a group and shared what specific topic we were planning to inquire about. I have joined the technology inquiry group since I want to learn more about the use of iPads in education, and in particular regarding their potential in supporting and motivating struggling and reluctant readers.
Setting up professional development in this way, is in my opinion a fantastic idea. What better way to learn more about inquiry-based learning than actually doing it! If there is interest, I would be happy to share more about this experience as we continue our inquiry throughout the year.
- Bart Miller
- Dave Truss
- Dave Secomb
- Gallit Zvi
- Holly Reardon and Katie Knight
- Jason Graham
- Jina Belnick
- Maggie Hos-McGrane
- Marina Gijzen
- Michael Kaechele
- Gareth Jacobson
- Tanya de Hoog
- Peter Skillen
- J Rafael Angel
- Inquiry Partners
- Sonya terBorg
- Tania Ash
- tasha cowdy
- Louise Robitaille