The Art of Inquiry; Kath Murdoch, Staff PD Day, Session 1

Tuesday 15th March, 2022. Whole Day Staff PD (Pupil Free Day)

Today we began our St Andrew’s inquiry journey with Kath Murdoch! To say I am excited is an understatement!  I wrote five pages worth of notes (sadly, I’m not kidding!). Here is a summary of the day and my key take aways that I think are worth sharing. 

Cannot wait to continue the process together as a staff. There were so many wonderful moments from today’s PD, it is impossible to document them all. I will say that it felt like having professional conversations with a friend, everyone was open minded, eager to contribute and passionate about the topic at hand. Aren’t we lucky to have such a great opportunity to work with great minds. 

 What is Inquiry? 

Kath described inquiry as such, “The essence of inquiry is absolutely about wonder, curiosity and seeking answers to our questions”.  Inquiry is a way of being, a stance. It is not a subject or a lesson.  Inquiry is a sustained, perpetual curiosity.  Cultivate this curiosity.  

What does inquiry based learning mean to you? (my reflection)

  1. Discovering answers to our questions 
  2. Exploring ideas, questions and concepts 
  3. Forming understandings through an inquiry process

Lessons from today’s session:

These were four of the practices for inquiry teaching and learning that we focussed on today. These come from Kath Murdoch’s The Art of Inquiry cards.  

  1. Cultivating Curiosity: When do we give children the opportunity to share their curiosity and wonderings? Not just classroom topical wonderings, their life wonderings. What materials and opportunities do we provide in our classrooms to spark that curiosity? Try to be that genuine person who shows interest in their curiosities and share your own curiosities.   
  2. Notice: The practice of noticing, it is such a significant part of the inquiry teachers repertoire. If I stay curious I am better at noticing. What helps us to notice?  Slowing down, observing, taking time to have individual conversations with students. Have space to get inside student thinking. 

    What gets in the way? Over planning, noticing but not having time to dig deeper or address this.  

  3. Grow Learning Assets: Changing the word work” to learning. “We need to finish our work: becomes “We need to continue with our learning”. Creating an awareness of building a learning toolkit, developing skills for learning and focusing on those Approaches to Learning in our inquiry journey. Using the What & How Method (see below) 
  4. Release: We need to release responsibility, give students the opportunity to do the heavy lifting themselves. Who owns the learning? Children have the right to own their own learning.  Be responsive to those moment in your classroom. Give yourself permission to go with the flow.  What can I release myself from? What do I leave behind and how can I move forward? What will best serve my students? I owe it to myself and my students to release.Flipping the gradual release model to rapid release.  

 

The practice I will be focussing on first is “Grow Learning Assets” but I was also very much drawn to “Release”.  One step at a time! Slow down. 

Grow Learning Assets and the What? & How? Method.  

The what is what we are learning about, the how is an approach to learning skill.  

Eg. What: What can we do to help others belong? How: As thinkers, how can we analyse information to understand it better.

I will use the What and How method to actively engage my students in their awareness in their learning and inquiry process. 

I work in small groups or 1:1 with EAL/D students. I wonder, in a classroom setting is it easier to release? When working in small groups for language intervention and support, we have goals for our non-English speaking learners, based on their lack of language and communication skills, we need to assist and model a lot of the language and learning. How can I employ more of my inquiry based teaching skills in what I do? 

I already use a play-based approach. Usually I set up a provocation or something to play with that will naturally encourage conversations and play. These playful scenes usually mirror their own classroom settings, or units of inquiry to help front load some vocabulary. From here we introduce new vocabulary and practise saying new words, sentences and phrases that accompany that type of play. I play alongside the learner and model the language. This is a starting point and I am eager to explore this further in our future sessions with Kath.

Exciting times at St Andrew’s.

Until the next session.

Multilingual Story Boxes in the Early Childhood Classroom

PETAA: Primary English Teaching Association Australia

Kim Cootes & Dr Gill Pennington

Pembroke Junior School 9:30am-12:30pm Thursday 12 March, 2020

Responding playfully to stories.

I am in my 16th year of teaching now, and with my teaching background and especially after becoming a mother, I know how intrinsic play and playful learning is within children. All children learn through play. Multilingual Story Boxes was the name of the PD I attended on Thursday, I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation, however, this was not the first time I had come across this concept, and I’m sure it won’t be my last.

About 12-13 years ago, my previous primary school suggested “Play Boxes”, which essentially are the same thing as these Multilingual Story Boxes. A box full of books, props, trinkets, toys, costumes, etc. around themes of texts to benefit all learners at whatever stage of development. The teachers loved them, the children loved them and each staff member would add their resources to the boxes after use and share it around. A great concept with fantastic resources, ready for the staff and students to borrow and use.

I was glad to be reminded of this concept at this PD. In my new role as the EALD teacher at St Andrew’s, I often have classroom teachers asking me for resources to support their EAL students. Whilst I have happily shared printed and digital resources, readings and supported students in and out of classes, there just isn’t enough time in my timetable to give these students and teachers enough support! Here is what I took away from this PD:

“What is essential for EALD students is also beneficial for all learners”

If we are providing essential, language rich, playful learning tasks for EAL students this will benefit ALL students in the class. Differentiation is key. Do what you would usually do, and cater for diversity.

As a side note, I am aware that play-based learning is predominantly an early years and junior primary school focus, however, it can and should also be done in the middle and upper primary classes – just pitched at a different level. I taught Year 6 students for three years and was creative in my approach to play based learning, it just looked a little different with older students.

I loved the suggested texts recommended below; some I have used before and others were new to me. It is important for children to see themselves represented in stories and be able to connect with characters. Mirror Books was a term used in the PD, and our teacher librarian (Tracey Billington) had just spoken to staff about books being windows or mirrors for students. A “window” to see into a character’s life and empathise with them, or a “mirror” to see themselves reflected in the book as a character they can relate to.

Recommended Books: Ziba Came on a Boat, Four Feet, Two Sandals & Stepping Stones (Bilingual), My Two Blankets & Handra’s Surprise.

This video clip is of a Reception class that read and explored Handra’s Surprise and recreated the story. It’s wonderful!

Storytelling Resources (Pennington, 2017):

  • Personal to the teller in the form of memories or events, leading to the development of family stories.
  • Artefacts to which stories become attached over time.
  • Printed and online texts, TV programs and movies.
  • National and cultural myths and histories passed down over generations.
  • Stories which accompany religious practices and beliefs.

As educators we know the value of storytelling, not just reading books to each other. Storytelling comes from the home, from communities, cultures, families and friends. It is a way of life, connecting with others and making sense of our world. Children should be given the opportunity to tell and share their stories.

The clip below called “Helicopter Stories, Letting Imagination Fly”, was shared at the PD. I think this method of storytelling is fantastic. I majored in Drama at university and have always had a passion for the Arts and expression through performance. This is exactly what students should be doing to explore, create and tell stories. I would also highly recommend using puppets/ puppetry to explore this method.

This is an example of children telling stories in their language. The method involves the teacher recording the student’s story on one page only, then reading their story aloud in a group, allowing the author of the story to act out their story with friends. Love it!

Resources:

Attached is the PDF of the PowerPoint from the presentation by Kim Cootes & Dr Gill Pennington. There were many useful pages with resources, references to research and examples of the Multilingual Story Boxes texts and props. Multilingual Storyboxes Adelaide

Where to from here?

  • My goal after this PD is to create a sample Multilingual Story Box for my school. With the assistance of our teacher librarian, I hope to source a box and add resources to it, then model the process with a selection of Reception and Year 1 classes.
  • I’d like to share this learning in one of our staff meetings to reinforce the message that “What is essential for EALD students is also beneficial for all learners”. All staff have the skills to cater for our EALD students, they just crave some resources and support, which is completely understandable.

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this useful.

Certificate of Participation

Creating Digital Books & Student QR Codes

Hi Everyone,

It has been a while since my last blog post, I’ve been rather busy adapting to full time work after returning from maternity leave this year. I feel I’m managing quite well but my blog has been sadly neglected. Until now!

Recently I stumbled across this link to Julie Smith’s Blog called The Techie Teacher:

https://www.thetechieteacher.net/2019/05/how-to-create-audio-qr-kids.html?fbclid=IwAR1t01mnr_1RIsjgwJvc4tKLyT3-spPyt_UTmfi42Xa6zKlJbhltUCYMqvo

I have always wanted to do this with my students and thought Term 3 was the time to start this process. I have had staff at my school ask me about sharing how my class did it, so this blog is dedicated to my coworkers at St Andrew’s School.

Firstly, I decided what my intention for learning would be for this task. I have been focusing on developing greater fluency, expression and pronunciation when my students read aloud. With this in mind, I decided to create audio books for our school library. I told my students they needed to choose a picture book, read it for a week and practise their reading, keeping their fluency, expression and clear pronunciation in mind. We would be recording their voices, reading their chosen books and sharing them in the school library. Their books needed to be suitable for young children (ELC to Year 2), however older children may also enjoy listening to them.

After reading their books at home all week, they were ready to record! We used iPads and an app called Book Creator, which is a way of creating digital books. If you’ve never used it, I would highly recommend giving it a try.

Students took photos of each page of their picture book and then recorded their voices on each page. We then shared our digital books from Book Creator to Seesaw. Our school uses Seesaw as a tool for communication with parents and to document student learning in a digital format. If you haven’t used Seesaw before and would like to learn more about it, please visit my previous blog post about it. I presented at EdTech SA a few years ago about using Seesaw as digital portfolios. Here is the link:

http://jadevidovich.edublogs.org/2016/07/20/edtechsa-conference-2016-seesaw-and-digital-portfolios/

We exported the book as a video to Seesaw, which meant it would automatically play for our viewers. All we needed to do from here was share the QR Code, which Seesaw generates for you.

I screen shot their QR codes, printed them to a suitable size for our display and the children stuck them on top of the photos I’d taken of them, holding a mini whiteboard as shown here:

Once this was done the children cut out their pictures, glued on their QR codes and we laminated them and attached a large black binder clip to the feet to help them stand up. I also asked my students to write a brief summary of their book and a 5 star rating, we used Comic Life to get the speech bubble template.

Here is what our library display looks like:

I also created a step by step instruction guide for students to help them learn how to view our stories using the iPads. You can find the attachment of that document here and download it and adapt it to your task. It’s as simple as opening the camera on the iPad, holding it up to the QR code and then clicking the link that pops up to take you to the story.

Read a Digital Audio Book

I hope you can see the value of this task and adapt it to suit one of your learning intentions within your classroom. The possibilities are endless! I was speaking to our school Italian teacher, she could record students speaking Italian and share their dialogue with students and parents, create a translator or a set of phrases to assist with Italian pronunciation. Then I was talking with a passionate science teacher and suggested he use it for recording the methods of experiments, videos of the experiments, documenting the scientific process along the way. What about Music lessons, Art, Dance, PE? So many possibilities.

ACARA Links: English Content Descriptors:

  • Use software including word processing programs with growing speed and efficiency to construct and edit texts featuring visual, print and audio elements (ACELY1685 – Scootle )
  • Use interaction skills, including active listening behaviours and communicate in a clear, coherent manner using a variety of everyday and learned vocabulary and appropriate tone, pace, pitch and volume (ACELY1792 – Scootle )
  • Understand how to apply knowledge of letter-sound relationships, syllables, and blending and segmenting to fluently read and write multisyllabic words with more complex letter patterns (ACELA1826 – Scootle )
If you have any questions please post them in the comment thread below.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about digital books and QR codes.

Thanks.

Jade Vidovich

EdTechSA Conference 2016: Seesaw and Digital Portfolios

Friday 22nd July 2016: EdTechSA Conference

Hi everyone,

Today is my first solo presentation at a state conference. My presentation is about the use of Seesaw as a digital portfolio in schools.

Here is my workshop rationale:

My workshop is about using an app called Seesaw to assist with creating digital portfolios for students and parents. It is an app that allows communication from school to home but can also be used as on online learning platform within your class. Students can select work they would like to share with their parents via notes, photos, audio files and videos. The app is free and fabulous. Come to my workshop to learn about digital learning using Seesaw. I have been using this app for the last 2 years in Year 2 but am part of an ICT group at my school to assist with the roll out of the app across the whole school. Currently we have been trialling the app with Receptions, Year 2’s and Year 5’s. I have many ideas to share with you about how to use this app across age ranges and ability levels. Parents have absolutely loved this tool to assist them with understanding their child’s learning. It is a fantastic way to track your student’s progress and communicate their personal progress throughout the year. Please come along to learn about this digital tool for digital learning.

Here is a link to the PowerPoint that I used during my presentation: Seesaw EdTechSA 2016 (1)

Video Resources:

What is Seesaw?

Why Digital Portfolios?

My Seesaw Feed: Touring the features of Seesaw

Self Assessment using Seesaw: I found this video and thought it would be great to apply this process in all areas of learning. I haven’t used Seesaw in this way but aim to implement this process next term.

How to use the Blogging feature in Seesaw:

Here is a document with resources, Seesaw reviews and links to Seesaw schools in Australia. It’s worth having a read:

Seesaw Readings and Thoughts to Consider

I hope you have found this post useful and I highly recommend you give Seesaw a try in your own class. For more information about Seesaw visit their website: http://web.seesaw.me/

If you have any comments or questions about this presentation please leave a comment.

Thanks

Jade