Tag Archives: LLCI

The Collaborative Inquiry. Still Messy.

Ah, the collaborative inquiry…

What is not lacking is the creativity or the knowledge to begin this work, and, in truth, much of it has been initiated already. What may be lacking, however, is the energy, discipline, and patience to study what is involved in the transformation and the courage to test our capacity for commitment to sustain such change.  -Emihovich, C., & Battaglia, C. (2000). Creating cultures for collaborative inquiry: new challenges for school leaders. International Journal of Leadership in Education. 3(3), 225-238. Taylor and Francis Ltd.

Last year, I was part of a teacher collaborative inquiry with a grade 2, 5, and 6 teacher. It was a time of firsts. We had never worked cross panel before. We had never belonged to a Collaborative Inquiry (CI) before. LLCI Glogster We had never dabbled with student inquiry before. We had  never made our thinking visible to our colleagues before. We had never presented our learning at a regional Ministry of Education event (Leaders of Literacy Collaborative Inquiry) before. I did write a post about our LLCI, and although it captures a snapshot of teacher learning, it does not capture the process. But, I can tell you that we had never had a professional learning experience like this before: Powerful.

This year, I have been part of a high school CI that has had its share of firsts, too. For some, it was the first time observing another teacher; for others, it was the first go at student-teacher conferences. We tackled the question

What is the impact of explicitly teaching reading strategies on students’ ability to comprehend complex text?

Here is a summary of our process and our learning:

http://prezi.com/embed/to2a7dj8cdpw/?bgcolor=ffffff&lock_to_path=0&autoplay=0&autohide_ctrls=0&features=undefined&disabled_features=undefined

 

Again a powerful learning experience.

That final note in the reflective video in the above Prezi is the thinking that moved us into our second CI of the year. How might we support students in knowing how to make their own decisions in their learning? How might we help students identify which strategy is the right one to tackle the task before them, and what tools will help them?

Identifying the student learning need is, I believe, one of the hardest parts of the CI process because we can think we know what the learning needs are, but can we be sure? What assumptions might we be making that stand in the way of us realizing what our students need? What is the combination of hard data and perceptual data that will direct the team’s thinking and support its decision?

We certainly had evidence from our work in first semester that students were not self-directed, independent learners, and on the strength of that perceptual data, we decided on a metacognition focus for our second CI. But metacognition is a tough thing to measure, isn’t it? Not for Jenni Donohoo.

 

ci2

We had met Jenni Donohoo, author of Collaborative Inquiry for Educators, earlier in the year, when she was brought on board to assist the CIs in learning the process. Jenni was back at our school at the end of January to deliver a workshop and to participate in our CI ‘celebrations’. I approached her with the problem of creating a tool to measure metacognition, and she responded with a statistically validated questionnaire (Metacognitive Awareness Inventory)! Very cool.

We eventually generated our question:

What’s the impact of explicitly teaching metacognition on students’ abilities to know and apply appropriate strategies when needed?

The second hardest part of the CI process is identifying the teacher learning need. This should be straight forward, right? If I know the student learning need, then I know the teacher learning need. If my students need to learn how to become more metacognitive, then I need to learn how to explicitly teach to that need. So we develop teaching tools, we design lessons around a Strategy Evaluation Matrix, we challenge each other’s thinking around learning goals, we revise, try again , revamp the tools, and run out of time.

 

CI Concluding Statement

It’s messy, this business of learning.

But it’s ok. We’ll go back at it in September because what we know we have is the energy, discipline, and patience to see it to the end.

What are your collaborative inquiry experiences? What part of the plan, act, observe, reflect cycle is challenging for your team? Please share your thoughts and comments below.

 

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5 Things I’ve Learned in 2013

Or had confirmed, or moved my thinking on….it’s been a big year.

Last July, I came across the Pearson “5 Things I’ve Learned” series via Ewan Mcintosh’s contribution. The idea of identifying five big ideas that I have come to know, or to have learned, appealed to me.

 

I did have great intentions to follow up this tweet with an actual post, but that never happened. It did for Donna Fry though, and as always, Donna’s post is deeply reflective, refreshingly honest, and eminently relatable. It has sat at the edge of my mind, nudging me to get on with my own “5 Things I’ve Learned” post, until now.

Since the ending of a year causes us to reflect on the past twelve months, and the beginning of the new year pushes us to consider what the new year holds for us, I decided to use the “5 Things I’ve Learned” format as the tool to do all of this thinking. Of course, this means I am tweaking the format so that the “5 things I’ve Learned” is reflective of the thinking and learning from this past year specifically, albeit they are built on the ideas that have permeated my life generally.

I am listing the five ideas, but no hierarchy is intended. I am an interdisciplinary or connective thinker, so all of these ideas lead from and to each other depending on the conversation or problem.

Let’s get started…

1. Work harder to build trust.  Understanding that relationships matter is not new. Neither is it a new idea that trust is a foundation block in relationships.

Nope.

What I learned this year is that to build real trust (read here trust that doesn’t let you down, that enables you to grow and change, that supports you, that is loyal) you have to work really hard.

LLCI Glogster

But the work, whether it is face-to-face or online, is not quick conversation over coffee or in a Tweet chat. It is not having the same view on pedagogy or technology integration. It is not about being on the same team, in the same department, or in the same course. It’s not only about making others feel good about themselves and their daily work. Rather, the hard work of building trust is that work that is inconvenient, goes against the grain, needs lots of time, pushes us out of our comfort zone, is transparent, and forces us to keep our promises and tell the truth.

2. Passion and Commitment. This has been a curious year for me professionally. I began it as a K12 literacy coach, and I will finish the year as a high school English and Student Success teacher. Regardless of our role, I was, and am, reminded each day that we need to bring our passion for learning and our commitment to our students to the fore. More than that though is the realization that passion and commitment are fed through the collaboration and co-learning work teachers engage in. As a coach, I was privileged to spend time in many classrooms.

Have a peek at what passion and commitment looked like: I saw teachers as storytellers, explorers, researchers, readers, writers, and problem solvers. I saw teachers as learners who did their homework and modeled innovation and change. I saw teachers who worked hard everyday to love what they do and then instill that love in their students.

Teina inquiry

 

What a honour!

 

These teachers are my inspiration now that I have return to the classroom. And the experience of collaborating and  co-learning with them pushes me to generate that work in my school.

When teachers work with teachers, we create a culture that encourages the conversation and leadership required to ensure success for all students.

3. Students Reflect Back What They Observe. I believe that students mirror back to us our behaviour, our language, our habits, our values. We can run climate surveys to discover what courses students might like to take, if they feel safe in the school, or what extra-curricular activities they would like offered. We can ask why they are late for class or if they have space and opportunity at home to complete homework. We can ask them for their feedback on how the school can be a better place for them.

Feedback

Or we can think about our students’ behaviours, both social and academic, as feedback to us based on us.

4. To Initiate  Somewhere in 2013, I ran into Seth Godin in a serious way. I am sure that I knew about him, heard him interviewed on various shows on CBC Radio, and possibly even purchased a book of his for someone I love. But Mr. Godin had not permeated my consciousness until this past year. I like lots of his thinking; I think it can be applied to so much of what we do in our private lives as well as in education, but the idea that really resonated with me this summer is the idea of initiating

 

I needed to hear this message. I had been enjoying learning about social media platforms and I was having a very nice time engaging in various online professional learning events, but I realized that my attention was beginning to wane. I had been doing a lot of learning and now I needed to use it. I would, of course, apply my new learning in my teaching, but I had just come from coaching for the past three years and my love for developing and delivering professional learning was (is) strong.

Just do it, right? Get started. Don’t wait for others to initiate. Be fearless.

So I have.

  • OOE13 Co-Creator
  • EdcampIsland slated for May ’14
  • School Blog launch Jan. ’14

5.  Be Ready to Make the Shift. This past year I participated in my first mooc–Educational Technology and Media Open Online Course or ETMOOC. This event profoundly changed the way I think about learning in an academic setting. Sure, ETMOOC was an open, online course, but I didn’t know what that meant. I just knew I was taking a course. I knew there would be webinars and Tweet chats and that I needed to blog about my learning. That was all okay with me. I knew about webinars from work and my Masters’ program and Tweet chats from some online communities I had joined and I had started a blog for #cyberpd2012.

I was ready.

Or was I?

What was going on here anyway? Where was the stuffiness? The stiffness that comes when a group of strangers end up in some room together for a mutual, yet individual experience? There’s music playing at the outset of the first “lecture”. The “prof” is super casual, chatting away with folks, and the chat box is flying with comments. There is a familiarity in the room; a feeling that we all belong. There are no titles used, or groups constructed by what level you teach….no map. There is Dave Cormier heckling Alec Couros (an inside job, but I didn’t know that, yet). There’s the whiteboard interaction that clearly gets out of hand.

Then there’s the cow.

This opening learning event set the stage for a learning experience that was challenging, engaging, supportive, integrated, free flowing, always on, permissive, immediate, organic, and …fun!

 Did I learn anything? Beyond learning about digital literacy, digital citizenship, content curation, digital storytelling, open education, and beyond developing increased comfort with social media platforms and tools, and beyond creating digital products like Storify, 5 Card Flickr, LipDub, and writing blog posts, ETMOOC taught me about the changing educational landscape. The ground is shifting beneath our feet, and we must begin now to shift with it.

Now.

Thanks 2013.

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Filed under Year End Reflection