A highlight of my spring travels was a day keynoting and providing workshops at the Kamloops Thompson (BC) Teachers Association district professional learning day. Kamloops has a soft spot in my heart. Having grown up a short distance further south in the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, I have fond memories of sporting events and competitive battles against several Kamloops schools. When the opportunity arose to revisit their district and support them in their learning it was one I couldn't refuse. And it would prove to be an inspiring day with 1400+ educators - my largest keynote so far for 2018.
I am incredibly blessed to collaborate with educators from around the world who are doing amazing things in their schools, classrooms, and learning spaces each and every day. When I cross their stories in my PLN or face to face at events I try my best to amplify their voice and share a stage for their message.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have found teacher librarian Beth Lyons at Larkspur Public School in the Peel District School Board, Ontario, Canada. Find her on twitter and her online space for more of her work and ideas.
She participated in our Inquiry Mindset Flipgrid Book Club this summer and I was taken aback by her expertise and passion for personalized learning. I knew I needed to collaborate with her in some capacity and sure enough, here's a guest blog that I think anyone dabbling in personalized learning should read.
I'm going to start right off the bat and let you know that I most like the term "inquiry" for exploring new ideas and experiences with learners. I think it evokes the mindset of wondering, of questioning, of striving for new knowledge.
It doesn't lend itself to immediately thinking of a product, an end, a finish line.
The learning is the doing.
Where is all coming from? Well, back in the spring I read Inquiry Mindset by Trevor Mackenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt (and then I immediately read it again in the summer for their Flipgrid book chat) and I quite literally felt as though my kindred spirits were speaking to me through this book. But even before that I had been using the term inquiry in the Library Learning Commons with educators and students. Currently I am reading Engaging Children's Minds: The Project Approach and this question about terms came up as part of a book chat at Twitter.
Dictionary.com defines "inquire" as-
This to me is what learning is all about. Seeking information. Gaining knowledge. Asking questions.
It's not about a product but rather the process.
I want the learners I engage with to love the process of learning, whether they create something at the end or not.
Does that mean that I think learners don't need to create a product, or complete a project?
The sharing of our learning through the creation of a product to share to an authentic audience is a valuable experience. I am a huge believer of the maker movement, maker culture and makerspaces in education. Learning through making is an essential part of a balanced education program and a necessary component for our 21st century learners.
But I do think the term we use matters.
This past school year I was honoured to support 80+ educators from several schools in Burnaby and New Westminster in their journey towards adopting inquiry in their practice in the Inquiry Learning Lab Series.
The Inquiry Learning Lab Series supported participants with three days of release from their classroom (October, January and April) to collaborate with a school-based inquiry team with me as facilitator and lead learner. Participants all received a copy of Dive into Inquiry and connected between sessions using our series hyperdoc as well as on our Flipgrid community page. The Inquiry Learning Lab Series is designed to be action focused, reflection robust, and big ideas/small steps structured.
Needless to say it was a highlight of my year to work alongside such inspired and committed teachers as we all aim to better meet the needs of our students. I have more such partnerships in 2018/19 that I am looking forward to!
Check out what Laurie Guyon had to say about her reading of Inquiry mindset is this blog post for EdTechTeam. See below and hit the jump to read on:
"The idea of adding inquiry to our classrooms is exciting for teachers. It offers us a chance to get to know our student’s better, to understand their passions, and it provides student agency. Inquiry makes teaching electric again. But there are best practices and foundational skills needed to ensure that inquiry is implemented effectively. That is where Trevor Mackenzie’s new book Inquiry Mindset comes in. His expertise, along with that of Kindergarten teacher, Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt creates a guided pathway for us as teachers to learn, to explore, and to implement inquiry into our classrooms.
When I read Trevor’s first book, Dive into Inquiry: Amplify Learning and Empower Student Voice, I realized the power of inquiry in the classroom. I showcased this book in trainings, online workshops, and in lessons in teacher’s classrooms. I believed inquiry would transform their classrooms into communities where students learn because they are curious. In an inquiry community, students are given the freedom to explore, examine, and question."
I truly enjoy visiting a staff, school, or organization that has committed themselves to adopting inquiry as their own. The room is electric, the energy is infectious, and the learning is rich, palpable and meaningful. It never ceases to amaze me just how much I am inspired by my work supporting inquiry in schools.
Case in point check out this brief video of a room full of educators (150+) all working towards deepening their understanding of essential questions and how these frame lesson and unit design.