Monday, May 4, 2015

April Reflection

As I reflect on the entire inquiry process that I experienced this year, I am proud of myself for jumping in and trying it.  I am happy to say that it was not a complete failure, rather pretty successful in my opinion.  Could it be better?  Of course, but I gave it a try and I will continue to work at it!  Refining the unit I created this year and developing new ones.  I also feel that inquiry can and does look very different depending on: the age of the students, the content, the learning objective, and the time.  Lastly, I  feel that we use inquiry all the time in teaching, but we do not always call it "inquiry".  I often find myself encouraging students to "research" that.  For example, we are studying the human body, which as you can imagine,  sparks a lot of questions.  I have had several questions arise during discussions that I do not know the answer to.  I explain that I am not a doctor and therefore do not know everything about the human body and I encourage those students to dig into their questions through research.

1. What are the ways that inquiry has had a positive impact on your teaching and / or student learning?

  • I have a clear end in sight when I use backwards design, I know what I want students to understand and learn
  • Students are very engaged
  • I am able to give students individualized feedback
  • I am able to differentiate student learning through my feedback
  • students are motivated
  • students collaborate with one another
  • students have choice in their learning
  • students find purpose in their learning: through presenting their learning to an audience

2. What are the drawbacks? What are the ways that inquiry still feels uncomfortable? What are you still unsure about?
  • I'm still unsure of what inquiry looks in other content areas, such as Math
  • Students need to have strong skills in paraphrasing 
  • students need have strong skills in identifying the: important and relevant information
  • When students skills in the area of paraphrasing, identifying important information, organizing a final project are lacking, you may need to have further mini-lessons
  • I am still unsure of how we balance inquiry with standards

As the end nears.....

1. What are the ways that inquiry has had a positive impact on your teaching and / or student learning?
The biggest impact inquiry has had on my teaching this year has been in the way that I plan my units/lessons. When I used inquiry as my vehicle for student learning, my planning became much more authentic.  I was meeting the students where they were in their learning and allowing them to live and learn on their own time.  

The struggle to allow them this time was FIERCE!  I felt pressured by testing and "getting it all in".  Our inquiry group question "How do I know they know what I think they know?" (or something like that) constantly stayed with me.  What I do know is that kids were engaged.  They were thinking.  They didn't want to stop at an "answer".  This is what will inspire me to dive in deeper next year.

2. What are the drawbacks? What are the ways that inquiry still feels uncomfortable? What are you still unsure about?

Inquiry still feels  somewhat uncomfortable to me due to all the unknowns that I feel exist still.  I know kids are learning, but what data can I use to support this?  I would like the going public piece of inquiry to become more meaningful and authentic.  So far kids have produced products very guided by me as far as what information they need to convey.  

April Inquiry Reflection


I feel like I've studied, experimented with, and discussed inquiry in so many different ways throughout the year. My 'idea' of inquiry has been challenged as I've continued to add to my schema. My biggest ah-ha this year has been realizing that inquiry can look really different depending on the classroom, content area, and grade level. My definition of inquiry has truly evolved throughout our year long study.

1. What are the ways that inquiry has had a positive impact on your teaching and / or student learning?

 Below are just some of the ways my instruction and student learning has been impacted. 

-Student engagement is very high during inquiry studies. 
-Students feel empowered by the work and have risen to the challenge. 
-Students who typically breeze through most work have been 'pushed' in a new way.
-Students are learning an authentic process that they will use forever. 
-I have learned what students are truly curious about. 
-I think about our content differently. Yes, we have to meet our standards, but there are many ways to do that.
-Inquiry provides the 'so what?' for so much of our learning. For example, researching a question after reading a text is authentic and powerful. Before we were just reading the texts, but not pushing our thinking. 

2. What are the drawbacks? What are the ways that inquiry still feels uncomfortable? What are you still unsure about?

There is so much I'm still unsure about regarding inquiry, but I know I'm surrounded by a community of learners that will continue to support me along the journey. 

-How can I keep mini inquiries 'mini'? One of my frustrations is how long inquiry can take. What can I do to limit the amount of time to ensure we cover everything we need.  
-How can I set up skills using an inquiry model?
-What feedback can I provide to students to help them live curious lives? (Thinking about process and product) 
-What lessons need to be taught and when? I know I need to use data I gather from conferring and looking at student work, but I think it's super challenging. 
-What are some methods for holding students accountable for learning from their peers? If everyone inquires about different topics, how can we learn from one another? 
-Is there such thing as too much inquiry? Is it ok to use the inquiry model in multiple subjects at once?

Clearly I still have numerous questions, but the positive impact outweighs my unknown or doubts. Incorporating the inquiry model is something I will continue to learn more about.

April Post- Lynn Burnham

I can't believe we are at the end of another school year and another PDU!!  So much interesting learning this year for me!

1. What are the ways that inquiry has had a positive impact on your teaching and / or student learning?

Even though we have been working on inquiry for most of this school year, I still feel like my dive into it feels very messy!  I am still struggling to define what inquiry looks like for me, but I am so glad to have been pushed to take the risk to at least try.

I think that inquiry has had many positive impacts upon my teaching and student learning:

  • I look at content differently-  maybe more deeply?  In the past I feel like I might have been just a "deliverer" of content, rather than the facilitator of learning
  • Whenever I plan for a group, I now think about the skills and strategies that are underlying the work the kids will need to be able to do independently.  Am I facilitating their growth around those strategies, rather than just hitting on surface skills.
  • I feel like I am asking my students to stretch their thinking much more than I have done in the past
  • My students are more in control of their own learning: much more engaged, and much more thoughtful and willing to ask questions
  • I think my students are beginning to realize that sometimes there really is not a right answer, and that we are all responsible for our learning
  • I think my students have more fun in my room now!

2. What are the drawbacks? What are the ways that inquiry still feels uncomfortable? What are you still unsure about?

Inquiry still feels uncomfortable for me for a few reasons, but I am definitely more willing to sit with the discomfort and push my own thinking than I have been in the past. Some of the questions I am still struggling with are:
  • Can I really use an inquiry model within an intervention setting
  • If so, what is the "perfect" balance between time spent on inquiry, and the direct instruction my strugglers need
  • Do struggling students actually need direct instruction, or can they learn at the same rate in an inquiry model?  My professional knowledge leads me to believe that when there is such a skill deficit for a student, there is a need for highly scaffolded instruction... but should these kiddos always have content handed to them in small increments, or should we push them to realize there is success and growth through a carefully facilitated "struggle?"
  • Can I bridge both direct instruction, guided instruction and inquiry into a "guided inquiry" model?  Does that exist?  
  • Or, are mini-inquiries the route I am taking?
  • I am also really worried about using my group of kids as "guinea pigs" for my own learning.  I guess that if I can prove acceleration of their growth (not just a year's growth), then I will have my proof... just not sure how to assess for that.
Lots of questions still remain for me, but I have loved this topic so much.  I am looking forward to continuing my discovery next year!

April Post

What are the ways that inquiry has had a positive impact on your teaching and / or student learning?
I have to admit that I was very hesitant to approach student learning through inquiry.  When I first started teaching 17 years ago, my first principal expected the teacher to be in front of the room teaching the entire time.  It has taken me many years to shift my thinking about good teaching.  Therefore, allowing students to take their own learning into their own hands was extremely uncomfortable for me.  How will they learn all of the curriculum?  Will some kids learn anything?  What if they don't research effectively?  What if they don't understand what they are reading?  All of these questions ran through my mind as the students attacked the weather systems unit through their own guiding question.  What I found is that they did learn and amazingly, they learned a deeper level than they did when I sit in front and fed them the information.  Not only did they learn from their own research but they learned from each other and questioned each other.  It was a very positive experience for me and one that I am very excited to cultivate next year!

What are the drawbacks?  What are the ways that inquiry still feels uncomfortable?  What are you sill unsure about?
 I have found that inquiry in science feels very natural.  However, I do not have the same feeling about inquiry in math.  I have still not been comfortable enough to even attempt it in math.  I do give the students word problems and such for them to ponder and ask questions about and finally try to solve.  I think my biggest fear is the students getting a incorrect foundation from the beginning.  In science it is easy to research information and form questions about the information you are reading.  However, I don't think at this point it is easy to research math algorithms and learn how to use them as easily.  I also feel like the questions that they may ask after trying to research them may cause even more confusion.  This is just a roadblock that I have to overcome and I am hoping that next year as I pursue the science side with inquiry I will be able to push aside my block and try inquiry in math. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Opinion Writing Inquiry

"Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other." - Paulo Freire

"To often we...enjoy the comfort of opinion, without the discomfort of thought." - JFK

     My goal was to teach students how to write their opinions in a short essay with emphasis on elaboration.  W.3. 1. Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.  a. introduce the topic, state an opinion, create an organizational structure that lists reasons. b. provide reasons that support the opinion. c. use linking words to connect opinion and reasons. d. provide a concluding statement or section.  It was easy to ask them their opinions, to teach them ways to insert details and anecdotal stories to elaborate upon their ideas. 
     But I want so much more for them. I want their opinion pieces to be meaningful; beyond their opinions of pizza and the color red.  I will open up this writing to inquiry tomorrow.  I'll ask students to turn their opinion into a question using, find others that have the same question, argue both sides of the opinion, find research to support your claims, THEN write an opinion piece that is rich with care and vigorous pursuit.  Finally, reflect upon question driven opinion writing.

I use to think...
     It was enough to teach to the standards.

 Now I think....
It is a disservice to students if we limit their learning to JUST the standards, to the structure and skills required of all third graders... they deserve 100 times more... they deserve to be asked to CARE, to OWN, to INVESTIGATE, to ARGUE, to COALESCE, to move to ACTION, to be EMPOWERED to have educated opinions and open minds throughout their lives....

Mini-Shakespeare Inquiry

We know what we are, but know not what we may be. - William Shakespeare

Shakespeare Mini-Inquiry

The Shakespeare Festival snuck up on me this year.  I knew it was coming, that my students were auditioning and running around in fantastic costumes, but somehow I thought I had more time!  Nevertheless, Monday came, the Festival was on Friday, and I wanted to teach my third graders as much as I could about Shakespeare in four days.  Was there no time for inquiry?

My inclination, my go-to, was to teach my heart out with books, skits, videos, and passion in my voice.  But this year, with our study into inquiry, although I did provide background knowledge for two days, on the third and fourth days I opened the study up to inquiry.  My personal question was, "Would inquiry provide the understanding and hunger for knowledge that a longer unit was capable of providing?"  I was wonderfully surprised!  Although my students questions were basic, "Who is Shakespeare?  Why is he important? When was he alive?  Why do we still learn about him?" and a few a little deeper, "How is Shakespeare still influencing us today?" they couldn't get enough.  Three online resources and a stack of books turned into, "Can we study him more?  Is our unit over?" and continued pursuit of Shakespeare knowledge even today!

Students coalesced their learnings into an essay persuading me to take them to the Shakespeare Festival.  It was a blast!

1. What are the ways that inquiry has had a positive impact on your teaching and / or student learning?

This mini-Shakespeare Inquiry is a great example of my personal shifts around instruction, especially when I feel crunched for time.  Last year, my inquiry projects looked a lot like research projects that took six weeks to culminate.  Now, I use inquiry as a teaching tool instead of a unit.  I am sure that this impacts student learning because of the way my students OWN their learning.  They love the questions.  They love the collaboration.  They all follow their own interests and bring it to the whole class to share as experts.  How did I ever teach a different way?

Shakespeare's quote sums up open inquiry for me..."We know what we are, but not what we MAY be."  The end game of inquiry is unknown, yet inquiry is an authentic and meaningful way to learn.  It allows students to discover their own interests and learning potential.

There is a quote from the book, Collaboration and Comprehension: Inquiry Circles in Action, “In the world of standards and benchmarks, it seems like teachers must always know what kids will know a the end of a lesson.  But consider this: do real researchers, investigators, and authors know exactly where they are going when they begin an inquiry?”– Daniels

2. What are the drawbacks? What are the ways that inquiry still feels uncomfortable? What are you still unsure about?

I am uncomfortable with the way explicit lessons on collaboration and process of inquiry take time away from content lessons, though I KNOW those skills are as important in life as knowledge.  

I continue to be unsure about weaving the standards into inquiry, so I need to:
  • create a routine for the  inquiry process that feels as comfortable as a readers workshop.  
  • trust inquiry to create the environment of lifelong learning that I believe in! 
  • learn when to pull students back to me for a critical lesson at the right moment.  
  • learn how to create more thoughtful scaffolds and differentiated lessons so that all learners have access to the information.
  • be clear on the true outcomes, skills and essential knowledge
Although, my "need to" list continues to grow, and may grow throughout my career,  Shakespeare helps me rest in the process...

"Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow." - William Shakespeare

Year Summary - ECE (April Post)

1. What are the ways that inquiry has had a positive impact on your teaching and / or student learning?
ECE students are naturally curious. Inquiry therefore has had a positive impact on my teaching and student growth because it has provided a framework in which to teach valuable background knowledge to students in a way that engages and invest them. It also teaches my students from the beginning of their educational career their thinking is valued and that school is not just a place where you learn your ABCs and 123s. The most important lesson I can teach my students is to think and question the world around them. They must learn not only what a question is and how to formulate one, but also develop foundational strategies to support where to find the information necessary to answer or build upon their  questions.

2. What are the drawbacks? What are the ways that inquiry still feels uncomfortable? What are you still unsure about?

The drawbacks are more around process rather than Inquiry itself. As I stated earlier, ECE students are naturally curious which is a great place to start. However, they have limited background knowledge on so many topics that often their questions can be either off topic or seemingly random or they can be superficial because they have nothing to go on. Inquiry therefore for us is VERY guided which makes it feel uncomfortable and less authentic. What I have discovered though in this messy process is that for ECE, inquiry must be guided in order to support children building enough background knowledge to delve into a topic more deeply. My job is to build a foundation to these thinking skills and not feel so responsible and accountable for them to learn everything there is to know about a topic. In the end, I've discovered I've been too reflective and tried to hard to make it all feel natural. It just will not always feel that way in a classroom of 4 year olds. Our Creative Curriculum is a sound example of guided curricular inquiry and as I become more familiar with it, I can use it as a framework to build upon. After 2 years of using it, I am discovering ways to make it fell more authentic and purposeful and I've been able to divert from it on many occasions to explore new concepts within a study or try something they have suggested but in my own way.
For next year, my hope is that I am so familiar with the curriculum that I can focu my energies on using the ideas and strategies I attempted this year with more routine. I also hope I can be more efficient and flexible with my planning allowing us to explore the questions most engaging to my new students.

Looking Back

I know I have been doing "Inquiry" with my students since I first began teaching back in 1981.  Children are naturally curious about everything, thus the "everything" provides a base for all learning.  I think the evolution of inquiry for me this past year has had a positive effect on both myself and my students.

The positives for me, personally, are multilayered.  Coming in to a new building with new standards, new teammates, and new teaching styles has been both a blessing and, at times, a bit overwhelming.  Through inquiry, I have been forced out of my comfort zone and challenged to rise to a new level.  I know what kids need to know in order to be successful, and I know how to get them there.  However, I had to take a long hard look at how to do this.  I had to let go of some of my past beliefs as I dove headfirst into my first "formalized" inquiry unit.  My gut told me to make it a balance of student driven focus and direct instruction.  To be perfectly honest it has been a trial and error year for me.  I see the power of student driven units.  My kids are more engaged and excited.  I have become a master at planning and making sure materials are available for them.  I have learned to gently guide students to ask deeper level questions.  They have evolved along with me.  The positives have been:

  • Higher student engagement and ownership of learning.
  • Deeper level thinking.
  • More opportunities for scaffolding learning and differentiation
  • More time for "coaching" students rather than "feeding them information"
  • Final products of students are authentic and thoughtful
  • Taking a much closer look at standards and figuring out where I can focus my time and energy to meet them.  
As for drawbacks...While I see the power of Inquiry, I struggle with how much to use it.  With the ever growing demands of our standards we have so much material to cover.  I have always believed it is necessary to go slow to move fast, yet the sense of urgency often times interferes with the process.  For the first half of the year our focus was learning new material and increasing stamina.  As the kids practiced their new learnings, we moved on and continued to build on those.  The second half of the year I was able to sit back and watch the fruits of our labors as kids used those skills to become more in charge of their learning.  I was able to incorporate several mini inquiries and a major inquiry into our learning.  Baby steps to be sure...

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Reflecting on Inquiry

1. What are the ways that inquiry has had a positive impact on your teaching and / or student learning?

Incorporating inquiry into our units has proven to have a positive impact on my teaching and more importantly on students learning. Some of the positives that highlight our experiences with inquiry this year:

0         Naturally lent itself to differentiation among the diverse academic needs in my classroom.
0         Increased engagement of all learners.
0         Offered students more choices and more responsibility to take ownership of their learning.
0         Fostered the active use and application of knowledge.
0         Helped students work collaboratively in pairs, teams, and with adults.
0         Gave students opportunities to practice skills they will face as adults (interviewing, writing emails, making phone calls, and engaging with adults and organizations in their community).

2. What are the drawbacks? What are the ways that inquiry still feels uncomfortable? What are you still unsure about?

With the demands of curriculum and the restraints of testing, time and content-specific skills are always in the back of mind as drawbacks to inquiry. I find value in weaving inquiry into the curriculum when it serves as the best avenue towards student learning, but I’m uncomfortable with the idea of making it the focus of all lessons. Even when considering the positive impact on student learning, I think it’s important to incorporate a variety of teaching strategies into our practice. I admit however that this belief may come from the understanding that I'm not sure how to make all content fit into the inquiry model.  

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Open Inquiry in Math?

In reflecting about this year of inquiry, I have been all over the map!  I initially felt that focusing on math inquiry would be an interesting way to steer my thinking.  There are so many topics that naturally lend themselves to literacy, I am always adapting them to math.  Then, I thought an easier route would be social studies and science inquiry, which really lend themselves to a more open inquiry approach... not easy at all!  Now I am to the conclusion that I perhaps have been a little too reflective!  Sometimes I dig myself into a hole of thought and have trouble executing a plan for fear of failing. So, I am going to continue with plans for integrating inquiry into math through the end of the year and focus on successes and challenges there.

Our last inquiry work with Michelle was around open inquiry, which is by far the most demanding in some ways because it requires me to be so flexible with plans.  It all depends on where kids are at in the process of learning.  Jamie and I are taking this approach to our current unit on Colorado History.  I don't think this is an approach that can be used in math.  An open inquiry approach in math would do little to lay the foundation that kids need in order to execute sound math thinking.  Am I wrong?  My current approach in math is curricular inquiry, where students participate in inquiry around a specific foundational topic.  Right now, that topic is perimeter and area.

Chalk Talk

As I shared in my last post, students have been thinking about math thinking and created chalk-talk posters for each of the Standards for Mathematical Thinking indicating what each standard meant to them and/or an example of how they have demonstrated that standard.  We then used sticky notes to indicate which of the cognitive thinking strategies we need in order to successfully demonstrate each standard.  The posters are now hanging in the classroom under the thinking strategies.  My next step is to physically connect each standard to its corresponding thinking strategy using yarn.  I am going to use the topic of perimeter and area to challenge students to think about how they think to solve problems.

Hallway Polygons
I am planning this week using the most logical approach.... searching 'perimeter area' on Pinterest.  I found some great inquiry activities, but do these activities lend themselves to true curricular inquiry?  Will students be discovering the meaning of each by engaging in activities that really push their thinking.  Here is what I have so far:
  • Students will make 'hallway polygons' using the 1 x 1ft. tiles on the floor and painter's tape.  This is Tony's favorite!  In the past I have made these polygons and had students use red, 1 ft. strips of paper to measure the perimeter and green 1ft. square sheets to measure area.  I am thinking that I will make one and have student make 6 or 7 more for the rest of the class to measure.  I found that this is a great way for kids to 'walk' the perimeter and get very kinesthetic with the concept.
  • Using Google Maps and the ruler tool to find perimeter and area.  Students find the perimeter of our school, the US, the Pentagon, the state of Colorado, Lake Superior.  This will be a great way to really problem solve the perimeter and area of irregular shapes and integrate tech. 
  • Find the area of your footprint using graph paper.  Straight out of Everyday Math, this is another great one for looking a irregular shapes and solving problems.
  • Measuring Penny, a read aloud about measurement that also has an activity where students have to design a dog house and a dog run to maximize area for the dog to have space to run around.
  • Students will make a visual representation of the meaning of perimeter and area to hang on the wall.  The visual can be anything (tool, example, non-example, picture) to cement the meaning of each in the reader's mind.
My inquiry questions for my students:
  • How does what we measure influence how we measure?
  • How do we find areas of rectangles?
  • How do we find perimeters of rectangles?
  • How can we find rectangles’ lengths if we know their areas and widths?
  • How is area connected to multiplication?
  • Why does area matter?  Why does perimeter matter?
  • Who uses perimeter and area in their lives besides fourth grade math students and their teacher?
How does this relate the Standards for Mathematical Practice?  I am going to ask students to identify which of the standards they are using when the compute area and perimeter.  According to my scope and sequence, they should focus on:

1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
4. Model with mathematics.
5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
6. Attend to precision.

Friday, April 24, 2015

April post

Now that the 8th grade science CMAS testing is almost over, 8th graders can take a deep breath and start their inquiry projects on building water bottle rockets.  This is great opportunity for open inquiry as ample time can be given for students to research, design, test, redesign, retest, and reflect on their rockets. While doing this, students develop an understanding for Newton’s laws of motion as well as the different forces acting upon their rocket.

Inquiry has a positive impact as students develop their own understandings at their own pace.  Students are engaged, they collaborate, they make mistakes and learn from them, misbehaviors all but seem to vanish. Students hopefully not only develop more long-term understandings of the content, but also know how physical science can apply to their lives.

The drawback to open inquiry is time.  With the demands of the CMAS test covering random material from grades 6-8, there is no time for open inquiry until this time of year.  I still struggle with student accountability with inquiry projects.  I often feel the need to still guide them to learning that still needs to take place. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

April Post

It is hard to believe that April is almost over!!!!  A year with an inquiry focus!!!  It has been hard and rewarding all at once!!  
This year inquiry has really had such a positive impact in my classroom.  Inquiry has made my students accountable and excited about their learning.  Instead of learning what "I want them to learn."  They have learned what they want to learn.  On top of learning what they are interested in, they have to be invested in their learning.  Through the inquiry process they won't learn unless they want to learn (that means they have to look for their answers).  They also become teachers.  They teach their classmates what they have learned.  I just sit back with my feet up and learn too!  :)  (I wish!)  
What I really have struggled with this year is that it is hard and feels out of control a lot of the time.  It is really hard work having the students guide their own learning.  Most kindergarten students are unable to access their own information so I have to do a lot of the work up front.  So to them it feels like they are finding the answers to their questions.  But really I have found books and videos that answer everyone's questions.  Some students need one on one guidance during this process.  Others just need a modeled lesson.  It also feels out of control most of the time.  I know the standards I want the students to accomplish by the end of the inquiry process but the day to day lessons and path of each student is different.  
I look forward to seeing what inquiry looks like in my room next year.  I plan to continue having inquiry studies in my room.  I tend to change and tweak thing the more I reflect.  I look forward to next year once I have a summer of reflection!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April Post

This is it, end of the year!!!  We can do it!!!

We are still making our documentaries.  They continue to be excited about finding experts to interview and continue to take pride in their inter-personal skills. Most have finished their KWL and their research and are starting to film and edit.  I am excited to see the end products!  If you're dieing to know, the following are the expectations for the documentary:


Documentary Expectations

The Format
A documentary could be described as a type of "non-fiction story."  Your documentary will be between 5-7 minutes.
Refer to the C-SPAN wesbsite for examples of student created documentaries.  
Refer to the following cite for C-SPAN downloadable clips on your issue.

Team Work -  100 pts
Before you get started, if you are working in a team, you should consider how the team is going to divide up the responsibilities. Typical roles may include: writer, editor, director, and videographer. Of course, one person can play more than one role

Research  -  200 pts
Research facts and opinions on your topic.  You must have a complete exploration of your issue.  You must have various opinions about your issue.  Cite all sources.

Interview an expert -   An attempt – 50 pts       An actual interview-  200 pts
Contact and interview an expert on your topic.  It can be an interview in person, via e-mail, or via phone.
Given out time constraint, I want to see you at least make an effort in finding and contacting and expert.

 Outline the Content  - 100 pts
Before production, you will  create a script outline, including storyboards illustrating specific shots. It should include: locations to explore, people to be interviewed, events to capture, situations to show, documents or still photos to include, artwork, quotations

Shooting Video – 200 pts
There are some basic rules to follow when shooting your video footage. You should consider lighting, framing, positioning, camera steadiness, speed of camera movement, sound, how many seconds you hold a shot, etc. A note about interviewing--think carefully about the questions and answers, the preparation, position, location and appearance of the interviewee. Careful planning can lead to better video footage for your final product.

Editing  - 100 pts
Editing is a critical phase of creating your video. Think of the editing process as similar to the writing process, and your video footage as the words you will use to tell your story. In what order will you arrange the story? What pieces work well together? What piece should be left out? How will it end? You may also realize you are missing some pieces and need to shoot more video. Determine your strategy of transitioning between scenes and which segments need voice-over narration.
You may use your phone, bring in your own tablet, the Chromebooks or the cameras at the school.  Search for video-editng software that will be compatible for your equipment.

Possible video editing software to use:     (scroll to the bottom of page for full list)

When I was explaining this inquiry when we first started, I really wanted to discuss WHY we were doing this.  Sometimes when I start a lesson/inquiry I go over the "WHY" too quickly.  So not only did/do I explain it, daily, but I keep it up on the board.  When I first started thinking about the "WHY," I was amazed at how much it covers.  Just to name a few; we use our higher level thinking; we are creative and innovative; we use our communication and collaborations skills; we gather research and synthesize and process information;  we use our critical thinking, problem solving and decision making skills;  we use multi-media; we use our interviewing and inter-personal skills. Now that's a mouthful.

I have really enjoyed this year of inquiry!  It has forced me to allow the students to take ownership of their own teaching and learning.  They were up for the challenge and have carried it through to the end (almost to the end).  I am so very proud of them, and hopefully they will look back at their inquiry experiences and say that not only did they learn, but they had fun doing it!!!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

April Post

Inquiry has had a positive impact on my teaching and student learning. I have found that I am more comfortable presenting most subjects with at least a mini inquiry approach. We started Geometry and I had no problem letting the students start by sharing their thinking, exploring and connecting, and finally bringing their thinking back. I have found that my lessons are easier and shorter when the kids have shared the learning they have discovered. I only need to direct their thinking or point out vocabulary they may need. I really love how that feels as a teacher and the kids love how it feels to learn it themselves.

I am still a bit uncomfortable with the long inquiry projects (our ants for example). While I still am guiding them on the main points, I am uncertain as to how long it will really take to complete this with all their own questions at hand. We have a deadline and a goal for presenting our learning, but I am anxious as to if we will make it. 

What is hard. . . all of it. In first grade you have a true variety of readers and writers. Making sure the material is appropriate and all the different scaffolds are in place takes lots of time on my end. The six and seven year olds have not yet learned how to self monitor. I continue to refocus them even while they are looking for one topic, I can only imagine (and yes I fear) what will happen when they are searching out their own question. In what I have seen from second grade and in my teammate's rooms, I know it is very messy in lower grades. It does not look like students on computers or quietly note taking from books. I struggle with how this learning looks to others.

Ultimately, I cannot wait to see the end product for these kids.