Inquiry teaching practices

Teaching Mathematics with an inquiry lens:

I use a structured and purposeful inquiry approach to the teaching of Mathematics.  I have guided my teaching team in writing units of Math inquiry for all the number strands.  I use a wide variety of  Math provocations, open ended questions and real-life problems and use the formative data from these to inform my teaching.  In my classroom I place emphasis on: the mathematics process, using a variety of strategies, connecting mathematical concepts, using manipulatives to make maths understandable, real-life problem solving, finding out what students already know and building on these understandings and using mathematical discourse.

Using Visible Thinking strategies from Harvard:

I regularly use the Visible Thinking Routines in units of inquiry and in Math. These are excellent strategies to help students to frame their own thinking and what I love most is when you see students apply them independently in their inquiries ‘I see …I think… I wonder … ‘.  Equally as valuable as the students making their thinking visible, is for the teacher to listen to, read, engage and respond to student thinking in order to guide students to developing deeper understandings, here is an example of this in my practice.

Co-writing units of inquiry with students:

There are different ways to co-write a unit of inquiry with your students.  I feel that in order for units to be engaging and authentic they need to be based on our student needs and interest.  One way of doing this is by teachers creating a provocation and using the student responses to write the lines of inquiry, here is an example from a nature walk provocation  and here is an example from a guest speaker provocation as part of a Philosophy4Children session.  There are many ways to use student responses and student curiosities to edit units of inquiry to ensure that they are engaging, relevant and authentic to each class.

Implementing philosophy for children within units of inquiry:

Since learning about Philosophy4Children in 2014 , it has become an integral part of my teaching practice, here is a blog about one my earliest experiences and I have taken this further and I have now used P4C as a way to co-write units of inquiry.  I have run several teacher workshops (at 3E HCMC and internal PD at ISHCMC) to teach others the value of this practice.  I have also written an article in a regional magazine entitled Natural Born Philosophers  .

Tracking data and monitoring student progress:

Pre-assessments are vital when planning any unit, be it Math, Language or UOI.    We need to know what our students already know and what they need to learn in order to guide our teaching practice.  In Math for example, I use The Global Strategy Stage (GloSS) interviews to tell me exactly which strategy each student is using in different areas of Math so that I know how to differentiate for each student.  Data-mining is also an essential practice of a reflective teacher in order to reflect on your practice and how you can improve units for the following year, here is an example.

Skill based learning:

The PYP curriculum facilitates and places the focus on skill based learning rather than content-driven learning.  We base each unit of inquiry around one of the 5 essential skills: research skills, social skills, self management skills, thinking skills and communication skills.  For example, our HTWW unit is based on research skills, so whilst each student is learning about different content, they are all acquiring the same skills.   Provocations, such as ‘a break out‘, can be very effective during a unit which focuses on social skills,. Some units which allow for wide student choice can also have intense skill development, if effectively guided by the teacher, you can read this example.  In the grade level which I teach we have a ‘discovery hour’ which is a similar principle to passion projects, but where students get to spend an hour a week to further develop their strongest multiple intelligence.

Building conceptual understandings

Digital story telling:

Using multimedia, such as audio and visuals, brings written words to life.  My students are increasingly expressing their ideas and telling stories through photos, moving images, music and recorded voices, this is a redefinition of writing. Here are examples of student’s work from my classroom, using a variety of technologies from a clay animation, a green screen mime, a slideshow imovie, sandart, stopmotion drawing and dance.

Language learning: