Category: Inquiry


I created this A3 colour poster after reading Chapter 1 of Comprehension Connections. I wanted to share what I had read with Trish and Bob while, at the same time, making something that would be useful to me and others. If you would like one of these printed on nice glossy paper, let me know:

Have you often felt that some of the best PD happens when teachers read something and then have a chat about it?

We have two teacher’s literature circles (should we call them TLCs or would that be too cheesy?) starting up at the moment – see this posting – and it would be wonderful if we could get many more happening. It really could be a good way to get the knowledge contained in these books to spread amongst us all!

Our resident wealth of knowledge on language publications, Trish, recommends the books in this slideshow:

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Please make a comment if:

  • You have read one of these books, would recommend it and why
  • You are interested in forming a TLC in order to read one of them

Here’s a visual that explains how to set them up and suggests how to run it:

Many of the most powerful things that are being done in the school are happening because groups of teachers have read a book that has informed and guided their practice. It is wonderful when things bubble up this way, rather than being supplanted from above.

To continue this trend, I have started up two literature circles with two different professional publications.I think this might be a way that we can spread the powerful effect that these books can have in a way that is manageable by very busy teachers!

We will follow this format:

  • Form the group
  • The first person will read the first chapter and decide what they will share (this could be powerful quotes, new systems, resources or fresh ideas)
  • The group will meet briefly (20-30 minutes?) to find out about the first chapter and to pass the book on to the second person
  • Continue this way to complete the book

Bob, Trish and I are reading Comprehension Connections:

Glenn, Nicky, Adrian, Rachel and I will be reading Bonnie Campbell-Hill’s Developmental Continuums:

Please let me know if you would like to recommend a book to be read in this way.

Something exciting happened this week. James Forsythe, from Phuket International Academy, has been reading the 6SS Class Blog. He noticed some similarities between what our 6SS have been thinking about and what his Grade 3/Year4 class have been thinking about. Both classes have been looking at wisdom and trying to understand what it means. He showed this posting from the 6SS blog to his students and used the 6SS students thinking to take his students’ conversations further:

Read the comments to see how the students’ thinking develops and to see where James adds his students’ thinking to the conversation.

James then sent through some photos to show the process he took his students through to arrive at their interpretations of what wisdom is.

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This kind of cross-pollination of thinking using a blog doesn’t happen that often, but it’s great when it does. Has it happened to you? I am always happy to help people work on their blogs to make them work better as learning tools.

Listen to the way these students explain what they are doing and invite other people into their learning by being so articulate, expressive, honest and confident. Which conceptual understandings are these kids displaying?

Kids are kids, and many adults are kids too. One of the things that struck me when I spent some time down in Early Years was the power of play in learning, and particularly the power of role-play. Early years classrooms have dress-ups and role-play areas where the kids can immerse themselves in the contexts of their units of inquiry. Teachers may, during a unit about transport and travel, create a travel agency where the students buy and sell flights, bus journeys and ferry crossings. Why do we stop doing these things as our students get older?

I decided to ask my students to start collecting clothes and props so we can have a role-play area too, I decided to make drama a regular part of what we do in the classroom, I decided to give my students more opportunities to develop their ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes though acting. The students have responded really well to this.

I’ll video some of the role-plays that we put together this year and share them on this blog.

This is a really interesting video about how science and dance can work together. I was skeptical at first, I have to admit, but as I watched the video I saw genuine conceptual connections that definitely deepened the students’ understanding of the science, and also helped them to understand how they can communicate through dance.

Try to ignore the ridiculous amount of times the boys say “like” though!!!

This is an idea I have been pondering for a while, inspired by the wonderful professional inquiries that have been going on in the school. I wonder if people would be interested in reading the same professional books and getting together – either in person or online – to discuss the book, share ideas, create resources and put things into practice?

I am currently working through Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor, which I borrowed from Trish. Like all of you, I have little time in my life and often start a book and end up forgetting I am reading it!!! Would anyone like to read this book with me? It has really influenced the Year 2 and Year 3 teaching teams and I really want to start putting some of these ideas into practice in my Year 6 classroom. The approaches suggested in the book, however, would work equally well in any age classroom.

What other professional books are you reading at the moment? Could other people read them with you to share the load?

This is a wonderful posting by Cristina Milos on a collaborative blog put together by Edna Sackson, both regular visitors and commentors on Art of Language.

The reason I have put it on here is because, although it is primarily about inquiry and taking students beyond the facts, it is also very rich in language and in the use of language to unlock and deepen student-thinking. It encapsulates the sentiments that all of our teaching teams expressed about language as a “vehicle for inquiry”.

Click on the image to get to the posting. Please feel free to comment either on here or on the posting itself.