Ongoing partnerships with schools, clusters, networks, etc.
Developing and implementing effective inquiry based learning across a school/s requires an approach to professional learning that is intensive, ongoing and classroom-centered. Schools wishing to develop teaching, learning and assessment practices generally engage Kath’s services for an extended period. This varies from 6 months to several years. Kath does not offer a ‘set package’ of professional learning – preferring to develop a plan with each school/group taking into account various factors such as their level of current experience with inquiry and, of course, their location! Most partnerships include a range of ways in which Kath works with teachers and students – depending on the needs, time allocation, etc. These ways of working include:
- Planning with small teams of teachers – ideally creating an initial plan and then meeting several times over a given period to reflect, develop and evaluate its effectiveness. ‘
- (For IB schools) – enhancing the quality of units of inquiry using the PYP planner
- Working ‘shoulder to shoulder’ in the classroom implementing powerful, inquiry teaching techniques. This may be in the form of classroom demonstration, team teaching or an observation/feedback situation.
- Facilitating action-research project teams based on the development of aspects of inquiry based teaching and learning. This usually involves a series of school visits – meeting with project teams. These may or may not be grade-level based. They may be cross school teams when working with a cluster.
- Working with a core group of leading teachers on the development of planning and teaching expertise to take back to their teams.
- Working with whole staff (usually in conjunction with some of the above practices) – full day or series of after school workshops
- Retreats/2-3 day intensives
The focus of these partnerships also varies according to the needs of the school. In long-term partnerships, the focus naturally shifts over time. Examples of some of the foci schools work on are:
- Developing the quality and efficiency of team planning for inquiry
- Developing the repertoire of teaching strategies and techniques in the classroom to enhance student learning
- Developing assessment practices
- Constructing whole school frameworks to support rigorous inquiry
- Designing planning documents that support and record teaching and learning
- Targetting particular elements of inquiry to enhance effectiveness – eg: thinking skills, collaborative learning, self management, classroom organization, teacher questioning, reflection and metacognition, relationships and classroom culture, integration of literacy skills, etc.
Schools wishing to set up some form of partnership with Kath are encouraged to contact her directly.
Seminars and workshops
In addition to partnerships with schools and school clusters, Kath presents workshops for a number of organizations. These are a useful source of information for teachers who are currently on a professional learning journey for inquiry or for those teachers wishing to get a general picture of the approach before deciding whether to proceed further. The content of the workshops can be negotiated with the host organization. Sample workshop snapshots are provided below:
The inquiring classroom
In this workshop, teachers have the opportunity to clarify their understanding of what it really means to use an inquiry based approach to teaching and learning in the primary classroom. During this highly interactive day, we examine the essential elements of inquiry and how these elements can be ‘brought to life’ through our planning, use of materials, choice of strategies and interactions with students. Teachers explore the conditions that best ‘set the scene’ for productive inquiry learning and the way in which we can be ‘inquiring teachers’ throughout our program – not just in the contexts of ‘units of work.’ This workshop highlights the ways we can develop the transdisciplinary skills of inquiry through daily classroom tasks.
Planning powerful units of inquiry
In this workshop, Kath takes teachers through a model for planning and teaching inquiry that builds students’ understandings and interdisciplinary skills.. Practical examples from a wide range of settings are shared with teachers and they also have the opportunity to reflect on their own planning and ways to enhance the quality of units of inquiry planned for their students. Some of the questions we explore include:
How do we find out what students already think and feel about a concept?
How can we gather and use students’ questions in productive ways?
How do we best support students in independent inquiry?
How do we assist students to demonstrate their understandings during an inquiry?
Thinking and questioning for deeper understanding
This workshop focuses on the central element of effective inquiry – thinking. The emphasis is on the practical: how can we best develop students’ critical, logical, creative and reflective thinking as we move through a unit of inquiry? Some great strategies are shared that teachers can apply directly to their classrooms. This workshop also explores the role of teacher questioning and how this impacts on student learning – teachers discover new ways to question students in order to encourage sustained and deeper thinking. We look at the relationship between thinking and understanding and what we can do to promote (and recognise) deeper understanding in students. This workshop helps sharpen teachers’ assessment techniques as well as offer a powerful new layer to the ways in which they work with students both within and beyond the unit of inquiry.
Going further – towards independent inquiry
In effective inquiring classrooms, students have some opportunities to pursue interests, questions and problems of interest to them. Learning become more personalized and students become more responsible for the management of their own learning journeys. In this workshop, we will explore some of the techniques that can be used to assist students to conduct their own inquiries more successfully. These investigations may be part of a whole class focus or a more sustained, negotiated process with small groups and individuals. From formulating questions, selecting resources for investigation, analyzing information to communicating understandings – we look at the structures and scaffolds that support students while building independence.
Literacy and Inquiry
In this workshop, Kath explores the links between an inqiiry approach and literacy in the primary school. There is increasing awareness of the need for students to ‘make connections’ in their learning - to see the links between learning areas; to link prior and new knowledge; theory to action, and classroom learning to the ‘real world’. As teachers, we are now striving to make our classrooms places where students are given the tools to help them become life long learners. How do we do all of this and ensure that we are ‘covering’ the literacy demands of the curriculum as well?
As students explore topics and issues of substance across the curriculum, they work with and generate written, visual and oral texts . These texts provide us with wonderful literacy teaching opportunities and the chance to really stretch students’ thinking skills. At each stage of an inquiry, we can challenge students to use reading, writing, speaking and listening skills for worthwhile purposes and gradually find ourselves planning and teaching in much more efficient and powerful ways.
Fees, accommodation, travel and other expenses
Contact Kath directly for information regarding fees for service as this depends on the size of the group, nature of the work required, travel time etc. Overseas and interstate schools/organizations are required to pay travel and accommodation costs in addition to consultancy fees.