Coming back from Kath Murdoch’s workshop in Accra I have been inspired to up my game. The game of facilitating inquiry learning.
We focused quite a bit on the factors that contribute to a good context for inquiry.
- Relationships – “Without good relationships with the children there will not be any learning. Great teaching is about connecting with students. Relationships are the key to it.” Kath Murdoch
- Agency – How are we learning what we are learning?
Back at school, reading through my notes, I decided I wanted to explore the last one first. The Merriam-Webster meaning of agency is: “The capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power.”
I decided to find out from my students what their capacity is, how they exert power when it comes to learning.
I printed the following questions on A3s and gave the students sticky notes for their answers. The students worked individually but also spent time reading responses from their peers.
• What is a good learner?
A good learner never gives up, keeps asking questions and is enthusiastic to start learning new things.
A good learner follows or tries to follow the learner profile attributes.
A good learner is someone who is respectful to others, who likes what they are learning.
A good learner is responsible, organized and most of the learner profile attributes.
A good learner is caring and respectful to others.
A good learner is focused all the time.
A good learner is someone who knows what to do to expand their learning.
A good learner is a person who tries to improve themselves in every possible way.
Is a person who enjoys learning and want to listen to different perspectives.
A good learner is someone who listens to others and who enjoys learning.
• How does your focus change across the day?
It depends on the task.
It changes when I’m near distractions.
I can focus across the day by keeping on task and not messing around and fidgeting.
It changes when a friend says something at lunch time and it makes you sad.
It changes every time we change an activity.
My focus changes after the breaks.
My focus gets worse as the day goes on because I get tired.
My focus is very good in the morning but goes out of focus later in the day.
After break I’m really focused, after lunch not so much.
• How do you impact other people’s learning?
By helping them understand something.
By helping them but sometimes I talk too much and don’t concentrate.
By not disturbing them when they are learning.
By sharing their knowledge with them.
By helping them and sharing my ideas.
By trying to support them in they way that I can.
By not talking with them or playing with them I help them learn.
By encouraging them and by giving extra help when needed.
By not distracting them.
• In what kind of tasks are you most engaged?
Mostly in maths because I really enjoy it.
Any tasks that involve reading and writing.
Any tasks that involves body language and moving.
Fun task are the best kind of tasks for me because I like to have fun.
Task that require moving a lot.
In tasks like working on the exhibition.
When we can work in groups.
• What role do you tend to play when working in a collaborative group?
I sometimes lead and sometimes follow I listen to the leader and if I am the leader I give tasks to people based on their strengths.
I sometimes yield to let someone else lead I also don’t mind being a follower because it’s fun to see what other people think.
I usually am the leader in a group.
My role is mostly the follower because I am shy.
I am usually the follower but sometimes I have a different perspective than the leader and I share that.
Listening and putting everyone’s ideas together.
• How can you take more risks as a learner today?
Not sit with my friends.
Sit next to someone you can learn from.
By doing challenging tasks.
Encourage myself by trying my best.
Believe in myself.
Pushing the negative energy that’s holding me back and say what I think is right.
• How can you make sure you are stretched and challenged in your thinking today?
Trying new things that challenge you.
Be a risk taker and push yourself.
Try to be a risk taker.
Trying something I haven’t done before.
By using different ways of communicating..
By thinking deeper to try to find answers
Afterwards we came back to the circle and discussed the process and the content. We talked about what hinders their learning and how to deal with these obstacles. The students are very good at solving these challenges during circle time but reflected that it is very hard to apply them in the real world. They feel that doing this exercise will help them to be better learners because “It reminded us of how we can be better learners” and “you become more mindful of what you are going to do”.
Interesting blogs on student agency and inquiry:
Kath Murdoch’s blog, Ed Talk by Mark Herring on the aspects of student agency and how to develop it, a blog post by Nick Rate “When you look at these characteristics of learning there are a number of elements that I believe are the foundations of effective learning and teaching.”