Category: Professional 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.

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?

Glenn found this fascinating presentation about listening and about the need for schools to think about whether or not they are teaching it as a specific “language art”. We showed it to Year 6 students and they all agreed that we do have “listening problems” in this day and age. They were able to talk openly about their own listening issues and what could be done to improve them. Many of them have asked for three minutes of silence each day!

It is worth watching this video in a team meeting some time. It will spark good conversations, but it will also enable you to reflect on the teaching of listening.

Do you have any good listening games or strategies that you could share with us?

David Crystal’s “Language and the Internet” is a very timely and provocative read:

“In recent years, the Internet has come to dominate our lives. E-mail, instant messaging and chat are rapidly replacing conventional forms of correspondence, and the Web has become the first port of call for both information inquiry and leisure activity.

How is this affecting language? There is a widespread view that as ‘technospeak” comes to rule, standards will be lost. In this book, David Crystal argues the reverse: that the Internet has encouraged a dramatic expansion in the variety and creativity of language.”


I’m undecided about all of this, I do see his point and I am helping my students to be as literate in this new era as possible. However, I am also fearful of some of the other trends I see: the Year 8 students who don’t play or talk with each other in the mornings now they have laptops to stare at, the over-reliance on the Internet for research when books, people and observations would be better options, the Facebook-update-style way that kids are starting to say sentences… expecting a “comment”, “like” or “share” at the end of each one!

Where do we go with this as educators?

Yesterday, I referred to two professional inquiries (about language teaching and learning) that I know are already taking place in the school. Year 3 are conducting an inquiry into the word study approach to one of the most complex areas of language arts, spelling (see their planner above). Year 2 have been conducting inquiries into “Reading for Meaning” and metacognition. In the process of these inquiries both teams are doing professional reading, sharing their thinking, putting ideas into practice and so on. It’s very exciting!

In addition, the way that the elementary school has interpreted the 3rd ECA has resulted in even more professional inquiries – some totally relevant to language arts.

It’s happening all the time, and I’d like to help spread the knowledge, share the ideas and invigorate all of our teaching practices as a result of your own inquiries.

So, please make a comment to tell us all about…

  • A professional inquiry you have already done
  • A professional inquiry you are working on at the moment
  • A professional inquiry you would like to start

These inquiries could be big or small, planned or unplanned, formal or informal, personal or collaborative.