Tag Archives: inquiry

Gather and Analyze

This the fifth post in a series that explores IQ: A Practical Guide To Inquiry-Based Learning by Jennifer Watt and Jill Colyer. Here are the links to post one (IBL and Learning), post two (In the Mess of Learning, what will stick?), post three (Questioning and Expertise in Inquiry-Based Learning), and post four (Supporting Conversations).

What I appreciate about IQ: A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning’s Chapter 5 “Gather and Analyze” is the strong focus on teaching students how to find and evaluate sources. Too many teachers ask students to “research” without teaching them how to find appropriate sources online. Not only is so much time wasted as students aimlessly wander the web, but the struggle they encounter to locate sources leaves them feeling frustrated and incompetent. This is not the productive struggle that cognitive psychologists claim we need to engage in during the learning process.

To help students get the most bang for their buck, I will use the lesson activity from the ENG4C elearning course, which can be accessed in the Ontario Education Resource Bank (OERB).  The first 13 pages of this lesson is a modified version of that elearning lesson. Here students are introduced to or reacquainted with Google’s advanced search features. For many students, this is their first encounter with tools like the key word search, and it blows their minds!

I

  CTRL-F

What I find lacking in this chapter (and thus, in the book) is the inclusion of the note making process. While note making may not be a significant part of young learners’ research process, certainly it must be for older students as the ideas, questions, and sources being explored become more complex.

Students first learn to unpack the sources they discover by asking questions of the text, locating the pertinent information in the text that provides evidence that supports their claim (inquiry question), and ultimately deciding if that source is sufficient, current, accurate, relevant, and suitable (SCARS).

Students make notes by collecting the relevant evidence (facts, statistics, expert opinion, analogies) and noting their thinking about the evidence. Initially, this step is tough for students. I am asking them to not only find evidence that supports their claim, but to also think about how it does. By including their ideas in their notes, they are constructing new knowledge. They are building connections and relationships between the ideas of the various sources and their own thinking. Typically, there is a wide disparity between a student’s first research note and her last note, and not just because better sources are discovered. Since the thinking in each note builds on itself, the first note will generally include little evidence of student thinking (mostly superficial connections) while the latter notes will reflect more sophisticated and significant thinking. Note making also supports many effective learning strategies like summarizing (Marzano) and paraphrasing.

Here are the steps in my research process (pre-writing):

Here is one student’s process:

Here is one student’s note:

Here are the criteria for the note:

Research Note Evaluation Checklist                 

  • Bibliographic Citation information
  • Thesis/Lead of the article—identified
  • Headings
  • Key Words/Phrases
  • Your ideas—identified in some way (ALL CAPS, italics, colour, etc.)
  • Quotations—identified by “  “
  • Paraphrase—identified by (paraphrase)
  • Audience
  • Purpose
  • Summary  

Here is one student’s mid-term reflection:

When it comes down to researching and creating research notes, annotating, increasing vocabulary to understand harder texts, and learning about media portrayal, I have to say this is the biggest learning process I’ll ever go through. I have to say it is fun and hard, and in going through it I have learned about so many things: purpose questions, styles of text, elements of text/posts, learning new words and phrases. Furthermore, the process gives me more knowledge to use for when I head off for college.

You can see the intersection between my process and that of Watt and Colyer’s. Where they use Reproducible 15 “Assessing my point of view”, my students will use the KWL(revised) ,organizer. Where they use SOURCE (Source, Objective, Usefulness, Reliability, Context, and Evidence) as their method of evaluating websites, my students will use SCARS (Sufficient, Current, Accurate, Relevant, Suitable).

I’d love to hear your thoughts about note making. Do you teach note making explicitly for the research process? If so, how?

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CDNcraft: A View from the Classroom

Part 1 in this series was originally posted at cdncraft.com and it described one way of incorporating global projects into existing curriculum. What it doesn’t do is talk about the why. Why do teachers decide to join global projects? What compels them?

students of all ages need in order to succeed in an economy that is marked by ever-more-rapid change, both structural and technological. These “global competencies” build on solid foundations in literacy and numeracy.

what if rather than what’s wrong

collaboration……exchange of ideas…..to build knowledge

Recognize the value of traditional instructional approaches when they are well done

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#craftreconciliation: The Climbing

In the fall of 2016, Wab Kinew wrote a Facebook post inviting educators to partner “mainstream” classes with First Nation schools/classes to discuss “What does reconciliation look like?”.  Jaclyn Calder and I joined forces (along with Shannon Simpson and Caroline Black) to design a project that offered students an opportunity to think deeply about the relationship between Natives and non-Natives in Canada, generally, and their understanding of reconciliation, specifically. You can view the project at #CraftReconciliation with SCDSB, Wikwemikong, and Rama First Nations.

Here I am summarizing and reflecting on the project. There are five posts in the first part of the series organized around the Ontario Adolescent Literacy Guide‘s five components:

I have also organized the posts in a way that I hope makes visible the teaching – learning process so that other teachers can ‘see’ the learning that emerged from this project. To meet this goal I have attempted to include the tools that were created for this project and to show them in action.

The Trek In

We have described for you a mountain. We have shown you the path to the top. We call upon you to do the climbing.

— Justice Murray Sinclair, TRC.

The climbing metaphor is an apt one. The preparation-physical, mental, emotional-for the task at hand, be it climbing or reconciling, is a process. As one does not simply head out to climb Everest, one does not just reconcile the past.


We didn’t reach the summit of the mountain, nor did we expect to. We managed to get to and set-up base camp. We figured out what tools we might like to use, what supplies we would need, and who would do what. We made short forays out from the base camp to check the terrain and plot out possible routes. We acclimatized. While this foundational work was valuable (and made visible our next steps), our biggest accomplishment was that we became a ‘we’. Students and teachers from all over the province from grades 3 to 12 sat around the virtual campfire and began the conversation on reconciliation.

All of our students … they’re the next generation. They’re the ones who are really going to have to come to terms with reconciliation [and] understand it.

When we have conversations together, when we get together and collaborate, and we learn together, then that personal connection can carry us a whole lifetime.

CBC Interview

The Summit Bid

It’s no small feat to make the summit of a mountain. Beyond the physical, emotional, and mental preparation, climbers need to be knowledgeable about the mountain they are taking on. This is the learning I need to better organize for next year: Ensure more opportunities for students to build robust background knowledge early in the process. We began with some background readings and videos on the TRC calls to action. We had conversations in class and online. We did some writing around which call to action was most important. But many students still struggled to connect personally. Of course, they connected with the overarching narrative: my students certainly know about residential schools and their own family history. Locating themselves personally in the conversation about reconciliation was more difficult, and I didn’t understand the gap until late in the process when we hosted Waubgeshig Rice.

This interview was a game changer for many of the Wikwemikong High School students. Wab summarizes his coverage of the Canadian Government’s apology and the TRC hearings as a journalist, and he answers student questions, ranging from water issues to the Indian Act to the future of the language,  from his own experiences. Post-interview, we saw an increase in student engagement, which carried students all the way to the finish line. It’s obvious, I know. The personal connection made via the hangout plays into what we know about student voice and choice.

The interview also reviewed or consolidated the foundational background knowledge that students needed to have to continue on with their own investigations.  The shallow background knowledge that the students acquired in the first part of the course led to a quality of ‘sameness’ across the project. If I want my students to truly engage in the topic (from a personal perspective), we need to spend more time on the front-end teasing out the issues so that students can see them. Yes, of course, residential schools were wrong and people’s lives were traumatically impacted. Yes, of course, racism is hurtful and harmful. Yes, we do want to build relationships between Native and non-Native people based on trust, honesty, and a greater understanding. But, diving deeply into reconciliation will mean grappling with really tough issues, and that is what we need to do. Consider these issues:

  • How sustainable are the many First Nation remote settlements, regardless of changes to education, infrastructure, and governance?
  • How can the treaties be honoured in the 21st century?
  • How might the land-based resources discussion be part of the reconciliation discussion?
  • How might the education of First Nations students shift to include cultural teachings?
  • How might individuals participate in the MMIW inquiry?
  • How might we debunk common myths about First Nations people?

These are some of the issues that people are talking about via social media. Reconciliation between peoples does not occur in the abstract, but rather in the concrete world the people share- land, water, laws, institutions, and language.

What Next?

Beyond bringing in more experts at the beginning of the course, we need to connect students across the project more intentionally. We need to devise a way for students to build knowledge together and then share their learning with each other. We need to facilitate student conversation via commenting more directly and purposefully. This last item-thinking through commenting-is an important modern skill to have, and in the work that I do in all of my classes that connects us to others, I see students struggling to engage in online discussions.

If we can do these things, we will be more prepared to make a bid for the summit of reconciliation.

Our future, and the well-being of all our children rests with the kind of relationships we build today.

– Chief Dr. Robert Joseph

 

 

 

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The #craftreconciliation rubric.

In a way, this experience did prepare me for the future, as I now have a deeper understanding of the people of Canada.

-Grade 11 student

In the fall of 2016, Wab Kinew wrote a Facebook post inviting educators to partner “mainstream” classes with First Nation schools/classes to discuss “What does reconciliation look like?”.  Jaclyn Calder and I joined forces (along with Shannon Simpson and Caroline Black) to design a project that offered students an opportunity to think deeply about the relationship between Natives and non-Natives in Canada, generally, and their understanding of reconciliation, specifically. You can view the project at #CraftReconciliation with SCDSB, Wikwemikong, and Rama First Nations.

Here I am summarizing and reflecting on the project. There are five posts in the first part of the series organized around the Ontario Adolescent Literacy Guide‘s five components:

I have also organized the posts in a way that I hope makes visible the teaching – learning process so that other teachers can ‘see’ the learning that emerged from this project. To meet this goal I have attempted to include the tools that were created for this project and to show them in action. I am still learning how to display docs in the best way for this platform. If you have ideas for me, please take a minute to leave them in the comment box below.

You will also notice that I am asking the students to “Self-Assess using this rubric” and “Determine a mark and add it to the bottom of the rubric”. Not connected to the #craftreconciliation project, but connected to my own evolving work in assessment and evaluation, I decided to have the students self-assess this semester. While this is not a grade-less class, as I do need to put a mark on a report card, students need to engage in the process of reviewing their work, submit it to me for feedback via a digital Assignment Submission form, revise it accordingly, and then assess it using the established criteria. Sometimes the criteria are organized into a rubric, and sometimes it is a Met Not Yet Met Checklist. They can choose to repeat this process as often as they wish, but once it is “their final answer” they post it somewhere…Sesame, Goodreads, Hightail, D2L, their blog…depending on what the item is.

Assessment and Evaluation

Assessment: Feedback First.

During an inquiry process, it is crucial to have built-in times for checking in with students. Part of the learning we do is together (hangouts, small group discussions, collaborations), and part of it is an individual endeavour. Both arrangements can run into obstacles, and it’s my job to help keep everyone on track.

Most of the check-in times see me sitting with the students and having short, intentional conversations about their work. I have my laptop with me and I track these conversations in a Google sheet. Other times, I will leave text or voice comments on the students’ digital documents, and of course, I will comment in their notebooks and respond to emails.

There are times, however, that I want to give students individual feedback that is specific to their work, and I want them to take stock of where they are. I didn’t include this tool in the Metacognition post but the Success Criteria Met Not Yet Met Feedback tool (if used well) is a metacognitive strategy. I leave digital comments after the student has completed the checklist.

Evaluation: Where is the evidence of your learning? 

The #craftreconciliation inquiry project ran the entire semester divided essentially into three main strands:

  1. The Build
  2. The Research
  3. The Literature: Starting Over

The build and the parts of the research process were assessed together with one rubric that I designed before the project started. Backwards planning is key to the success of any course design, but this course was going to be designed as we went. There were so many factors at play:

  • Group dynamics
  • Group deadlines
  • Combined classwork (Ms. Black and I combined our ENG3E/4E and ENG3C/4C classes for many learning events
  • Combined literature circles across our classes
  • Student choice
  • Minecraft!?!

and on and on. I knew that by having the over-arching rubric done and at the ready, we could keep pulling the course back to where it needed to be.

What I have done below is to provide thumbnails of the rubric and a link to the actual document. Below that are a series of screenshots of a student completed rubric.

See the rubric here. 

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 4.17.13 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-21 at 4.17.23 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 4.17.36 PM

I can’t link you to the actual student rubric since it is full of hyperlinks to documents set in edit mode (at my request). I’ve kept the images large enough so that you can read them. I don’t think you need to see all of the student work. This exercise is not one of moderation, but rather a chance to see the tools in action.

Student completed rubric.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 4.38.53 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 4.40.22 PM

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Finally, this evaluation was part of a whole course Evidence of Learning document that the students completed in order to determine their mark for the 70% portion of their grade (I held onto the 30% this year since we are all new to this process. Everyone -you know who I mean-felt better with this arrangement.)

I do need to write about the self-assessment process (separate from #craft because I did it in all of my classes), but suffice it to say here that I will continue with self-assessment next semester. Students told me repeatedly that for the first time in their academic careers, they understood what they were learning and how that connected to their marks. Comments like this were not uncommon:

After speaking with Ms. Balen about the mark I gave myself on this document, we came to an agreement that in self grading my mark I didn’t give myself enough credit for the work I’ve done.

If you have questions about #craftreconciliation or if there are parts of this post that need clarification, please use the comment box to connect with me.

Up next: The Climbing

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