Monthly Archives: October 2014

How do inquiry teachers….teach?

Cannot agree more…the planning for inquiry is much different than what I was taught more than ten years ago coming out of teachers college. It certainly focuses on the process rather than curricular expectations as those tend to fall in place as the inquiry develops. Documentation of inquiry is paramount at the younger grades, I feel that this is the role of the teachers while as the kids get older, this is a responsibility that the students themselves can take on as a part of the process. And point #7 the collaboration aspect, as the teacher this helps you to see how the students are approaching their inquiries, their questions the seek answer too.


When I first became fascinated in inquiry-based approaches (too many years ago to say!), the focus for many of my conversations and indeed, my early research, was on how to plan.  Back then, learning about inquiry helped me shift my thinking from planning thematically – or even in a more genuinely integrated way, to planning with a learning process in mind.  Understanding inquiry helped me think more carefully about learning. Planning was no longer focused on making clever curriculum connections – it was about designing a process that would scaffold thinking from the known to the unknown, from shallow to deep  and that would place the learner at the heart of all we did.  My planning got better – much better. That approach to planning is now deeply embedded in my way of being as a teacher.  It is organic and fluid. I don’t need to have it all…

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Twitter – Evolved Teacher PD, Teacher Communication Tool

I have always been one to check out everything, or at least sign up for everything I might at one point find useful.  I also have a thing about getting the user name I want.  This was also the situation when in signed up for Twitter back in July of 2010. Screenshot 2014-10-09 10.54.39 Though at that time I was years behind the crowd fleeing Facebook and joining the next evolution of Social Media.  Facebook was always a way to connect with those whom you lost touch with, to revisit ones past and to share with family near and far what was happening in your life.  Rarely was it able to capture what was happening around the globe and present it in a refined concise manner.  Twitter on the other hand was providing people with a means of following what was happening to others 140 characters at a  time.  And this is what drew me to Twitter.  I always found myself online, reading the latest; local, Canadian and global newsworthy stories from a countless number of online sources from my local paper (The Hamilton Spectator) to the CBC and CNN for my global news.  Twitter gave me the ability to bring all of these sources into one tool where I could hear about the stories as they were shared, at least I thought that it would.  What I didn’t realize was that Twitter rolled meaning that as new “Tweets” were shared the old were shoved off.   I was now missing key events that were not being “retweeted” or re-shared.  Twitter was frustrating to say the least.  I had an account, I followed others, but I didn’t get how it worked.  I put Twitter to the side.

A year or so passed and my interest in Twitter resurfaced.  I cannot recall what brought my attention back to the Twitterverse but I can now say that Twitter makes much sense than what it originally did back in July of 2010.  I now get how to find those missed posts, I use my internet browser to access a web-based version when sitting in front of my laptop, I use an app-based version from my phone and find myself following and contributing to the fast-paced 140 character world of Twitter.

Twitter has provided me with an environment for observing, sharing and learning.  As an educator Twitter as provided much for the evolution of my teaching practices.  A typical PD session in past was delivered by an individual or small group to few or many that attended.   They reminded me of the many university lectures that I sat in on, the difference being that most PD occurs over a 1 or 2-hour session and then you are left to take from it what you can and try to work it into your teaching practices.  Twitter has taken the traditional single session PD and evolved it with the allowance for continual connection with the experts.

I have also taken a new approach in the communication front.  The thought is to give our families and community an outside look at what is happening on the inside in the classrooms of their children.  I have been inspired to do so because of colleagues in education who have provide that look inside for my wife and I.  As teachers we would likely have little opportunity to see what is happening inside the classrooms of our daughter and eventually our son.  But with a tool like twitter and educators like @avivaloca and @AllieDoyle8 we were able to catch a glimpse of what our daughter experienced in her first year of school.  WE can’t thank them enough.  So my journey to connect our classrooms and students with the families continues with the goal of building a stronger learning community.

Twitter, it can be a daunting environment, mind-boggling to those unfamiliar, but with a little willingness to take a risk, it can bring great reward. Give it a try.

A Little Bit of Honesty

1B4E - Shivonne Lewis-Young

Today I was honest with my grade 3 students and I think it surprised them. In fact, I don’t think they believed me at first.

I shared how when I was a student I did poorly. I had mostly C’s and D’s on my report cards. I wasn’t motivated to complete my tasks and would often scribble sloppily to get it done rather than taking my time and effort. My spelling was awful, I overused comma’s, my basic math number sense skills shocking and my cursive was a disaster at best. I can vividly remember learning cursive in the fourth grade. When we became “neat enough” we were given a blue ball point pen to do our school work with. I was the last person in my class to get one. My teacher said with a scowl when she handed it to me “Your cursive is still awful but you…

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