Discovering Inquiry as a Teacher

Discovering Inquiry as a Teacher

How can we change our whole understanding of how to teach if we don't feel that we are actually teaching? Click to join in discovering inquiry as teachers. projects | group work | ideas | learning

Inquiry is a popular word in Education today.  For me it is new approach to teaching that completely shifts the way you teach in your classroom.  Right now in Ontario we are thrust into a situation where new curriculum has taken effect with the focus being very inquiry based.  But how do we as a group of self confessed obsessive compulsive and control focused teachers change our whole understanding of how to teach if we don’t feel that we are actually teaching.  Over the last two years I have attempted to implements the beginnings of inquiry based learning, flipping my classroom, and allowing student directed learning.  However I can’t help but feel at these moments that I am cheating because I didn’t teach all day long.  Through inquiry my whole understanding of teaching is being turned upside down.

Therefore whenever I encounter a new pedagogy I try to slowing morph my teaching practices  to fit the new standards.  I wouldn’t say that I am an early adopter, but I am comfortable of change when I do the work to truly understand it.

So this is what I want to do.  Explore the internet and other resources to figure out what inquiry based learning will look like in my classroom.

I will start with the information I found on the Galileo Education Network from Calgary Alberta.

The have a rubric that you can use to help you understand as a teacher to understand where you are in your ability to implement inquiry in your classroom.

So I ‘marked’ myself using this rubric and here is how I see myself stack up in my use of inquiry skills.

Authenticity: Developing
Academic Rigor: Developing
Assessment: Developing/Emerging
Beyond School Value: Developing/Emerging
Digital Technologies: Emerging
Active Exploration: Developing
Connecting with Expertise: Beginning

Clearly my goal areas in inquiry are getting my students more access to experts in the field.  Using this will help to get students a variety of perspectives.  Being that there is a great university down the road from my school perhaps this might be easier than I think.

Here is one of their teachers explaining how she uses inquiry in her classroom.

Stay tuned and learn along with me as I attempt to improve my practice in Inquiry Based Instruction.

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Why I love Long Range Plans (and you can too!!)

Why I love Long Range Plans (and you can too!!)

Feeling overwhelmed? Check out this 4/5 split long range plan! (Plus you can grab one for your split class, too!) | long range plan ontario | long range plans |

Its done!!!  My 4/5 Long range plans are finally completed.  Having such detailed plans this past fall was a life saver.  Being very pregnant with a toddler at home I didn’t have lots of time to plan these long range plans were a great tool that sat on my desk as a reference.  It helped to stay focused and on task and make sure that I had taught what I needed to before I left for my leave.  Even my LTO appreciated knowing what I had already covered and what she needed to still teach.  As I watched my colleagues without plans struggle to stay on task I was relieved that I spent the time last summer to have these complete and ready to go.

As you can see from my Term #1 plans I include details about literacy planning, Read Alouds, big ideas, Writing Forms, and Comprehension Strategies.  As well as the math units for both grades that can easily be taught together.  New I have included more detail for the social studies and science curriculum including Inquiry Questions, Big Ideas, and Culminating Tasks for both of the grades.  However I have removed Physical Education as I will no longer be teaching this subject.  OPHEA is a great resource and made up the bulk of my physical education program

Complete Long Range PlansIf you are interested in the units in my long range plans you can see them here
Balanced Literacy 
Social Studies
Science
Math
Don’t forget to leave a comment of submit feedback on TPT!!!

STAR Homework

I was looking for a way to build on the idea that I want my students to self monitor their own learning.  I wanted them to do homework but I didn’t want to have to chase them to return it, or listen to multiple excuses about not having time to complete it.  I also didn’t want it only to be about student’s who didn’t complete class work as I found it was always the same students that would be getting hours and hours of homework.  These students were often students with Special Education needs, where homework created a negative environment of parents and children arguing over getting it all done.  So I asked myself “do I just scrap homework all together?”

My answer to that was no.  I feel that homework is important to practice skills in alternate settings, and it should build the necessary skills and attitudes that homework helps you to practice the concepts taught in class and consolidate learning.  I also feel that it should be students that are self motivated to complete homework not parents forcing this to be completed.

In my travels through the internet I stumbled upon Stephanie’s post from 3rd Grade Thoughts.  I love her blog and use it frequently as a go to resource for many teaching ideas.  She created STAR homework based on Universal Homework Design from Whole Brain Teaching and from Allison at A Whole Brain Teacher.

Check our Stephanie’s wonderful post here and her resources on her TPT store here

I have added additional resources that I found helpful to use with my students.  I wanted there to be choice in what activities they completed.  This would allow for true differentiation for students.  I can tailor what students complete for homework each night based on their individual need.  I can make recommendations for these students.  For other students I can provide fun alternatives to traditional pen and paper activities.
Below is my menu that students glue in their agenda.

After our meet the teacher night I had a few parents express that some of their children were opting out of completing star homework.  Parents were concerned about this a expressed that they didn’t want to fight with their children.

Although earning stars in not required but strongly recommended I had students write out a STAR Homework goal sheet.  Students counted the number of stars that they earned this week and made a goal for next week.  Ideally for most students I want them to complete 8 stars a week.  Students will be rewarded at the end of the week if they meet their STAR goal.



 Motivation


Students determine what their goal will be.  This week (week 3) our class goal is 175.  When students meet this goal  they will earn a reward.  They have picked that they get to sit in any desk for lunch.  Simple reward but very motivating.  At this point to get them to buy in I allow them to earn this once they achieve this goal.  Eventually I will move to stars per week to be achieved.

Enjoy!!

 

I’ve Been Busy….Summer Planning

Well with my return to the classroom I have been doing a lot of thinking, blog stalking, reading, and planning on how I will improve my teaching especially my literacy block for the next school year.

My Thinking and Planning…

The area that I have thought about the most is my literacy block.  I will be teaching my 3/4’s all of their subjects excluding French but will have 100 min per day set aside for literacy.  I have focused over the last few months on improving my knowledge about assessment, classroom management, and balanced literacy.  I know that the cycle of formative assessment is imperative to use to engage students in their learning and to see improve student success in reading.  Additionally strong classroom management skills, which promote students self monitoring skills, allows the teacher to focus on instruction and less on management. Finally I know that gradually releasing the responsibility of learning to students through modeled, shared, guided instruction and independent practice ensures student learning and success.

So I think to myself, I know these facts but what do I do to apply these into actual program practices.  This is when my blog stalking comes in handy.  I find that many of you fellow bloggers are raving about three things, Whole Brain Teaching, Daily 5 and CAFE.  I knew about Daily 5, I was given the text by a principal but never really read it, it was my first year of teaching and I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t know how to try something new when I was just trying to survive.  Over the last few months I have been inspired by others who feel that this method of teaching seems to have changed the way people teach.  Therefore I have begun to re read it along with many others on We Read, We Blog, We Teach.  

We Read, We Blog, We Teach

Through the CAFE program I can apply many of the components of the cycle of formative assessment to the CAFE model.  I find that conferencing and getting to know your students goals and helping them achieve them truly contributes to their success as students.  Through both the Daily 5 and CAFE I can use the gradual release of responsibility model.  Really these three programs are a great marriage that I hope leads to a wonderful classroom environment.  I am so excited to see how these three strategies work together to improve student success.

Finally, I was looking for a great classroom management plan that encouraged students to become self monitors, promotes engagement, and builds a positive classroom culture and environment. I have used the clip chart previously but didn’t really like this system.  I have also used a ticket system however this took a lot of time to manage.  I was inspired by Whole Brain Teaching.  So many of you rave about how this works in your classroom.  I will be incorporating some of the components into my management plan.  I plan on using CLASS – YES, TEACH – OK, and the SCOREBOARD.  I will use these along with student referees, who look for the character traits in their classmates to earn a raffle ticket, star students who are promoted to this position when they believe that they are student leaders and self monitors, and restorative justice practices.

So with all of this thinking I was trying to figure out how this would translate into student supplies and books. For literacy my students will have
  • 1 Literacy Zippered Folder
    • Reader’s Record Duotang
    • Reader’s Notebook (letters to teacher, and reading responses)
    • Student ‘Just Right’ books
    • Writing Process Folder
    • Word Work Duotang

I got the printed labels for the writing folder here http://www.busyteacherscafe.com/resources/mini_offices.html

FREEBIE!!!
The labels for the writing process I created with help from this site here.  Here are my labels for the writing folder

Some other things I’ve been up to…

I have picked a colour scheme that I think reflects my students moving out of primary, so yellow, blue, green and purple it is.  Here is my friend the owl all dressed up…

 

I bought the paint for my bulletin boards and started to paint them.  I will finish them in August.  I picked up paint testers instead of quart or gallon paint cans.
They were cheaper at only $5 a can which will hopefully cover most of my bulletin boards.   I will probably need 5 cans in various colours which is still cheaper than one gallon of paint.  Plus I can get multiple colours.
Next, I have been making signs and labels for many things in my classroom.  I have made backgrounds, found frames online, played with power point to make these and now have a clipart file folder on my computer that I am very proud of.  Here is some of the things that I have made.  I have made Cafe Labels and Daily 5 inspired labels, classroom library labels, agenda labels, and word wall labels.  The best part is that I printed these at Walmart’s Photo Center.  Ink for my office jet printer is expensive so I made these labels into images using power point and sent them off to Walmart’s Online photo center to print at $0.20 a photo.  They are stronger than regular paper and I’m thinking they may not fade as easily.  Here’s hoping.  I am so happy with how they turned out.  I will post photos of them on the baskets when I get back into my classroom in August.

 Many Many Labels….here are just a few.

 

Want these labels for yourself? Click on the picture to get them at my TPT store.

Have you been creating this summer too…leave a comment and share your summer planning ideas with me.

I’ve Been Busy….Summer Planning

Well with my return to the classroom I have been doing a lot of thinking, blog stalking, reading, and planning on how I will improve my teaching especially my literacy block for the next school year.

My Thinking and Planning…

The area that I have thought about the most is my literacy block.  I will be teaching my 3/4’s all of their subjects excluding French but will have 100 min per day set aside for literacy.  I have focused over the last few months on improving my knowledge about assessment, classroom management, and balanced literacy.  I know that the cycle of formative assessment is imperative to use to engage students in their learning and to see improve student success in reading.  Additionally strong classroom management skills, which promote students self monitoring skills, allows the teacher to focus on instruction and less on management. Finally I know that gradually releasing the responsibility of learning to students through modeled, shared, guided instruction and independent practice ensures student learning and success.


So I think to myself, I know these facts but what do I do to apply these into actual program practices.  This is when my blog stalking comes in handy.  I find that many of you fellow bloggers are raving about three things, Whole Brain Teaching, Daily 5 and CAFE.  I knew about Daily 5, I was given the text by a principal but never really read it, it was my first year of teaching and I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t know how to try something new when I was just trying to survive.  Over the last few months I have been inspired by others who feel that this method of teaching seems to have changed the way people teach.  Therefore I have begun to re read it along with many others on We Read, We Blog, We Teach.  

We Read, We Blog, We Teach

Through the CAFE program I can apply many of the components of the cycle of formative assessment to the CAFE model.  I find that conferencing and getting to know your students goals and helping them achieve them truly contributes to their success as students.  Through both the Daily 5 and CAFE I can use the gradual release of responsibility model.  Really these three programs are a great marriage that I hope leads to a wonderful classroom environment.  I am so excited to see how these three strategies work together to improve student success.  

Finally, I was looking for a great classroom management plan that encouraged students to become self monitors, promotes engagement, and builds a positive classroom culture and environment. I have used the clip chart previously but didn’t really like this system.  I have also used a ticket system however this took a lot of time to manage.  I was inspired by Whole Brain Teaching.  So many of you rave about how this works in your classroom.  I will be incorporating some of the components into my management plan.  I plan on using CLASS – YES, TEACH – OK, and the SCOREBOARD.  I will use these along with student referees, who look for the character traits in their classmates to earn a raffle ticket, star students who are promoted to this position when they believe that they are student leaders and self monitors, and restorative justice practices.  

So with all of this thinking I was trying to figure out how this would translate into student supplies and books. For literacy my students will have
  • 1 Literacy Zippered Folder
    • Reader’s Record Duotang
    • Reader’s Notebook (letters to teacher, and reading responses)
    • Student ‘Just Right’ books
    • Writing Process Folder
    • Word Work Duotang

I got the printed labels for the writing folder here http://www.busyteacherscafe.com/resources/mini_offices.html

FREEBIE!!!
The labels for the writing process I created with help from this site here.  Here are my labels for the writing folder

Some other things I’ve been up to…

I have picked a colour scheme that I think reflects my students moving out of primary, so yellow, blue, green and purple it is.  Here is my friend the owl all dressed up…

I bought the paint for my bulletin boards and started to paint them.  I will finish them in August.  I picked up paint testers instead of quart or gallon paint cans.  
They were cheaper at only $5 a can which will hopefully cover most of my bulletin boards.   I will probably need 5 cans in various colours which is still cheaper than one gallon of paint.  Plus I can get multiple colours.  
Next, I have been making signs and labels for many things in my classroom.  I have made backgrounds, found frames online, played with power point to make these and now have a clipart file folder on my computer that I am very proud of.  Here is some of the things that I have made.  I have made Cafe Labels and Daily 5 inspired labels, classroom library labels, agenda labels, and word wall labels.  The best part is that I printed these at Walmart’s Photo Center.  Ink for my office jet printer is expensive so I made these labels into images using power point and sent them off to Walmart’s Online photo center to print at $0.20 a photo.  They are stronger than regular paper and I’m thinking they may not fade as easily.  Here’s hoping.  I am so happy with how they turned out.  I will post photos of them on the baskets when I get back into my classroom in August.  

 Many Many Labels….here are just a few.

Want these labels for yourself? Click on the picture to get them at my TPT store. 

Have you been creating this summer too…leave a comment and share your summer planning ideas with me.

What a day…

What happens when you don’t edit and purge your classroom?  You end up with more resources than possible.  So today was my last day of school but my first day at my new school and what a day it was.  I am so excited to start working with this great group of teachers.  I walked in to my new room today to learn that my initial classroom had been changed.  No problem there my new room houses a smart board…which I plan on using frequently.  However my new room also appears to have been the retirement room, where teachers who have moved on from teaching have graciously left their belongings to the new teachers coming in for them.  Never have I had the problem of having too many resources.  I can open a public library with the amount of books that were housed in this classroom.

I know some of you may think but how can you possibly complain about having too much.  Well in reality many of these books were published 10-15 years ago, textbooks, and learning resources have changed drastically.  These resources have also been replaced numerous times.  (All of the replacements are also in my room.) In addition to the books there are papers, papers, and more papers.  I have been trying for years to operate on a paperless system whenever possible.  So to say that I was overwhelmed and anxious about sorting through all of this was an understatement.

I was so relieved to meet my new Educational Assistant and teaching partners who rolled up their sleeves to help me sort through all of this.   Thank you!!!!!

The lesson I learned from this is

  1. Edit your resources frequently if you don’t use it get rid of it
  2. Keep only what you need and will use.
  3. Organize for yourself, don’t assume other will do it for you.
Well here is the state of my room now after three days of cleaning and lots of help…

My floors are now ready for their waxing.  I will have lots to do in August when I can get back into my classroom but I am happy that it should be ready to go.
YEAH!!

Now to enjoy my summer with my little darling…

Stay tuned for my updates on what my room looks like as I begin to sort through  organize the room.