LLED 469 Learning Log 1.4

Module 9: Access to inquiry for all learners

Components essential to a successful inquiry project/unit:

  • “Range of resources
  • inquiring mind
  • was of designing or re-designing questions and instruction to engage students (inquiry model, assessment, goals)” (Module 9, p.1)

On page 2, Module 9, among the things to consider when planning and/or co-planning an inquiry opportunity is how to scaffold and support all students’ unique learning needs.  As I progress through the module, readings and discussions this week, I will be seeking further information on the scaffold and support process. It is my goal that all of my students will meet success in their inquiry process.

Donhauser et al. (2014) propose moving towards Inquiry Learning Plans that are student driven. I question how capable students are at this process unless given scaffolding by the teacher. In the description of the “Student Growth” phase of inquiry learning, “students determine how they plan to learn new information…” (Module 9, p. 3). I am thinking of all the skills that are required such as searching for resources, note-taking, recording citations, paraphrasing/synthesizing, creating a final product and I am sure that my gr. 7 students are not yet able to self-administer their own learning.  I do agree with Donhauser’s (2014) suggestion that students must submit frequent updates as they move through the process.

Tomlinson (2014) discusses the importance of understanding and knowing the students in order to effectively meet their needs. I have certainly found this true as a classroom teacher. September is always a bit rough as I try to figure out what makes each student tick and they are figuring out who I am. At the PSA Conference, one wise teacher-librarian shared how she involves herself in creating the class lists for the next school year. She mentioned how she sees students year after year and is often able to see a different side of them than a classroom teacher might.

I appreciate Style’s (1988) quote as cited on p. 4 of Module 9.

… the need for curriculum to function both as window and as mirror, in order to reflect and reveal most accurately both a multicultural world and the student herself or himself. If the student is understood as occupying a dwelling of self, education needs to enable the student to look through window frames in order to see the realities of others and into mirrors in order to see her/his own reality reflected” (p.1).  

So true; an excellent curriculum has the capability of enabling students to understand both themselves and the world around them. Style (1988) wisely states that “all students deserve a curriculum which mirrors their own experience back to them…but curriculum must also insist upon the fresh air of windows into the experience of others…” (Style, 1988).

Dr. Lorna Williams, (2008) advocate for First Nations, Metis and Inuit learners, describes how education has the power to either destroy or to revitalize and create (para. 3). That is a humbling statement and one that I must take seriously as an educator. Do my lessons, units, conversations, assessment practices etc…destroy or revitalize? Do my lessons provide opportunities for all of my students to view the curriculum through their own experiences (as a mirror) and through the experiences of others?

The list of questions developed by the Vancouver School District when vetting resources that honor Aboriginal Culture are excellent ones to keep handy as a selection tool.

  1. “Resource Development: How was the resource developed? Were aboriginal people involved? Does the creator have authorityfor the content?
  2. Historical Events: If it is about an historical event, does it include the aboriginal perspective? Is it culturally authentic and historically accurate?
  3. Aboriginal Cultures: Are aboriginal cultures respectfully portrayed? Are the cultures shown as dynamic and complex societies, with diverse spiritual beliefs and traditions?
  4. Portrayal of Aboriginal People: Does is portray aboriginal people fairly? Does it use stereotypes and show aboriginal people as contributing members of society with diverse roles in their daily lives? Are role models shown?
  5. Language and Imagery: Are the visual details of setting, clothing, and lifestyle portrayed accurately and respectfully? Is respectful and appropriate language used? Is the resource Canadian or American?” (Module 9, p. 6)

Online sources to consult include:

I have looked quite extensively at Strong Nations but the other sites are new to me. What a fantastic resource list when researching and purchasing resources that teach respect for Aboriginal culture.

Tomlinson (2008) provides a framework of questions for teachers to ask themselves. The third question resonated with me as the word image of a “bridge” is one that I want to convey in my future LLC. I love the phrase “building bridges of possibility”

“Are we willing to do the work of building bridges of possibility between what we teach and the diverse learners we teach?” (p. 56-57)

Tomlinson (2008) emphasizes the importance of knowing your students and of building trust. As I become “student-aware” (p.27), I am more capable of differentiating learning so all of my students reach their potential. I began this module searching for information on how to scaffold and support student learning. Tomlinson’s article offers some great advice about how to increase students’ awareness of how they learn. As stated, “real learners understand how learning works. They know how to make sense of text, how to listen, and how to ask questions. They know how to gauge their work based on criteria for success. They understand how to capitalize on their learning strengths and how to compensate for their weaknesses. They know how to plan, follow through with plans, modify plans when necessary, and evaluate the effectiveness of their planning (Tomlinson, 2008, p.30). Practically, she encourages teachers to often ask students what they need in order to accomplish a specific task. Modeling this process of meta-cognition, students build a deeper understanding of the skills needed.

Fontichiaro (2015) reviews the four basic components of inquiry lesson plans as:

  1. Authentic student questions
  2. Open-ended conclusions
  3. Critical thinking and active comprehension; not regurgitation
  4. Synthesis; not summary (p.49)

I like her analogy that “Squeezed grapes make juice, but it takes time for juice to become wine. Fact-finding is juice, inquiry is wine” (p.50).  Yes! Let’s make some wine, figuratively speaking, of course.

The article by Stripling and Harada (2012) provided a clear example of how planning for an inquiry unit might look like. I especially liked the figure on page 9 that outlined how to scaffold student learning. The sample lesson plan on pages 10-11 demonstrated how to structure mini-lesson, guided practice and independent practice. This is definitely an article that I want to print and keep in an inquiry binder for future reference.

Scaffolding to support my students seems like a balancing act between devoting too much time to mini-lessons and not enough time for digging and researching. However, asking students to complete an inquiry research project without guidance is like asking a non-swimmer to compete in a triathlon. At this stage, my students will need some explicit instruction in question formulation, searching for resources/information and note-taking.  One great site that I was introduced to from Betty Chung in a discussion post in LLED 462 is www.sweetsearch.com. This site is an index of websites that has been compiled by over 50 educators and librarians.

References:

Assessing Questions. (2009). School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(5), 2.

Donhauser, M., Hersey, H., Stutzman, C. & Zane, M. (2014a). From lesson plan to learning plan: An introduction to the inquiry learning plan. School Library Monthly, 31(1), 11-13.

Fontichiaro, K. (2015). “What’s inquiry? Well, I know it when I see it.” School Library Monthly, 31(4): 49-51.

Stripling, B. K. & Harada, V. H.. (2012). Designing learning experiences for deeper understanding. School Library Monthly,29(3): 5-12.

Style, E. (1988). Curriculum as window & mirror. Listening for all Voices. Oak Knoll School monograph. Summit, NJ. The SEED (Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity) Project on Inclusive Curriculum. Wellesley Centres for Women.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2008). The Goals of Differentiation. Educational Leadership, 66(3), 26-30.

Module 10: Formative Assessment as Integral Component of Inquiry

I have been trying to be much more intentional about adding self-reflection into my assessment practices. Here is what I have been dabbling with:

  • Chapter/unit science test: prior to the test, reflect on what strategies you used for studying and preparing for the test. (I am thinking of a checklist based on the strategies we have practiced in class; make a list of key terms and definitions, re-read the chapter, make notes on cue cards/flashcards, quiz a peer or have a parent ask you questions, do some of the review questions at the end of the chapter…) Then, when students get their tests back, have them reflect on which strategies were effective to help them prepare and what would they do next time.
    • In teaching gr. 7, some students don’t understand the need to study but then are disappointed with their results. I am trying to build a sense of responsibility and a greater awareness of meta-cognition skills.
    • Zmuda defines this type of self-assessment as “assessment as learning” and is used to promote reflection and metacognition. (Zmuda, 2008, p. 78)
  • Self-reflect on each stage of the inquiry process as we work through a research project in science
    • Today, I did a mini lesson on formulating inquiry questions. First, I demonstrated how Boolean search terms work as we played a game. (ie. “stand up if you are wearing running shoes AND glasses…” Change the terms AND/OR/NOT and point out how the number of ‘hits’ (students standing changes). We then spent some time researching on the World Book Online and on the EBSCO database (Explora Canada) to pre-read different topics within our larger essential question. Then, we talked about Red Light versus Green Light questions using the Assessing Questions document. Students then formulated their first draft of a question and posted it on my Padlet. I projected the questions and we analyzed which questions were Green Light (lead to more inquiry) or Red Light (stop research by answering with just yes or no). We worked as a class to re-phrase and help each other come up with great questions.
      • Students were then given time to reflect on their learning about formulating questions and the process.

Edudemic’s article and infographics: Every Teacher’s Guide to Assessment (April 2015).

This offers a clear distinction between formative and summative assessment. In addition, I liked the ideas of different apps or digital tools to use for formative or summative assessment.

The Assessment Tool Kit provided in the Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind: Assessment for Learning, Assessment as Learning, Assessment of Learning (WNCP, 2006, p. 17) is an excellent planning tool, as are the document’s Appendix 1: A Template for Planning Assessment (pp. 82-83) and Appendix 2: Overview of Planning Assessment (p. 85).

This tool kit is an awesome resource that would be very useful when co-planning units/lessons between the Teacher-Librarian and a classroom teacher.

The question that was posed in Module 10, p. 2 “how will they determine whether students have learned these things [the skills at each stage of the inquiry process]” is one I have spent considerable time pondering. I have been trying to break down the process of inquiry research into manageable small chunks for my students and trying to assess their development in these skills along the way. However, I am still looking for effective ways of measuring skill development. I used the Daily Reflection of Learning pages found on

http://librarysupportedinquiry.weebly.com/collecting-information-summarizing-paraphrasing–taking-notes.html  (North Surrey Secondary Library website: Library Supported Inquiry) to guide my students in reflecting on the mini-lessons on research skills.

Pappas (2010) describes ‘reflection’ as that which “fuels thinking rather than just acting as a collector of information”. Using writing prompts can help to guide students in their reflections and help students learn to become “independent learners who can think for themselves” (Pappas, 2010). When assessing reflections, Pappas suggests the need for flexibility and a greater focus on form than content. A great piece of advice in her article is to search “reflection assessment rubrics” to find samples of rubrics.

The title of page 3, Module 10 is “Caring for Our Students”. My goal is for all of my students to understand the material, concepts and skills taught in my class. When I notice that several students struggle with a concept, I recognize the need to back up and re-teach. Today was an example of that. We have 10 questions of Mental Math each week based on the concepts of the week. Several students really struggled with today’s questions and scored very low. I whispered to them to not worry about it as we will continue to practice. At the end of the day, however, I didn’t feel that was enough of a consolation. I don’t want my students to become discouraged and give up on math. So I will re-teach the concepts over this week and we will have a second try to ensure greater understanding. Tomlinson echoes this sentiment and the need to be committed to my students’ positive development and success. Using this as assessment for learning helps to guide my teaching as I reflect on what worked and what didn’t and what I need to re-teach or differentiate to meet the needs of all of my students.

I appreciate all eight of Cooper’s (2007) big ideas of assessment. However, I find that the following three are integral to my teaching practice:

  • “assessment and instruction are inseparable; effective assessment informs instruction
  • Assessment must be planned and purposeful
  • Assessment must be balanced and flexible to improve learning for all students, eg: oral, performance, written” (p.5)

Formative Assessment:

  • evaluating student work while in progress
  • gives teacher a sense of where students are at and what needs to be re-taught
  • gives students a chance to review at various points of their learning

I like the description of formative assessment as a “flexible mindset”. This following quote reminds me of Tomlinson’s urgings for educators to demonstrate care towards their students, in all areas, including assessment practices. “Formative assessment, like a flexible mindset, reminds students that feedback isn’t punitive, and their current level of skill doesn’t permanently define them. It redefines the teaching role so educators can say, “Aha! You don’t understand that, but we’ll get there together. Let me show you how” (Fontichiaro, 2011a, p.11).

Assessment tools suggested in the readings include: “reflection logs, exit passes, graphic organizers, rubrics, rating scales, checklists, timelines flowcharts, goal-setting plans, directed conversation and conferences, and letters” (Harada, 2010, p.14). Another idea is to create a flowchart through the inquiry process. Using Google Forms for formative assessments is suggested in Fontichiaro’s article on formative assessment (2011a). Other ideas include: “one-to-one feedback, mini-conferencing, and teachable moments” (Fontichiaro, 2011b, p.12)

“Helping young minds take charge of their own learning is the finest contribution educators can make to student success in the 21st-century world”. (Harada, 2010, p.15).

(Figure taken from Harada, 2010, p.15)

Summative Assessment:

  • occurs at the end of unit or project
  • sample rubrics can be found at WebYools4U2Use (http:// webtools4u2use.wikispaces.com)
  • checklists, written feedback, rubrics, portfolios

Questions to consider at the end of a unit when designing assessment:

  • “What skills did we teach during this project that I need to assess?
  • How much do I want to reward the process of learning (e.g., note-taking, research folders, index cards) versus the product (e.g., PowerPoint or research paper)?
  • How much am I rewarding students for following directions (e.g., giving five points for putting your notes in the left pocket of the research folder) versus their evidence of thinking?
  • How many points do I want to allot to aesthetics (such as transitions between slides, font, and margins) versus content?
  • Does my assessment actually match what I asked them to do?” (Fontichiaro, 2011b, p.12).

For future reference: refer to the sample checklist of a book trailer and p. 13 for ideas for academic counselling (creating a portfolio and resume, cover letter).

References:

Buerkett, R. (2011). Inquiry and assessment using Web 2.0 tools. School Library Monthly 28(1): 21-24.

Cooper, D. (2007). Talk about assessment: Strategies and tools to improve learning. Toronto, ON: Nelson.

Fontichiaro, K. (2011a). Nudging toward inquiry – Formative assessment. School Library Monthly 27(6): 11-12.

Fontichiaro, K. (2011b). Nudging toward inquiry – Summative assessment. School Library Monthly 27(7): 12-13.

Harada, V. H. (2010). Self-assessment: Challenging students to take charge of learning. School Library Monthly 26(10): 13-15.

Louis, P. & Harada, V. (2012). Did Students Get It? Self-Assessment as Key to Learning. School Library Monthly, 29(3), 13-16.

Pappas, M. (2010). Reflection as self-assessment. School Library Monthly 27(3): 5-8.

Planning and Assessing Inquiry-based Learning. (2009). School Library Monthly, 26(1), 2

Tomlinson, C. A. (2015). The caring teacher’s manifesto. Educational Leadership 72(6): 89-90.

Western and Northern Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Education (WNCP). (2006). Rethinking classroom assessment with purpose in mind: Assessment for learning, assessment as learning, assessment of learning. 112pp. Ministries of Education: Alberta, BC, Manitoba, NWT, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, and Yukon Territory.

Zmuda, A. & Harada, V. H. (2008). Librarians as learning specialists: Meeting the learning imperative for the 21st century. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

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