Final Reflection

This Journey Comes to a Close

As I sit back and ponder the past 14 weeks and revisit my initial thoughts about inquiry learning, I can proclaim that my knowledge about inquiry learning has grown as a direct result of taking part in my own learning. There has also been a roller-coaster of emotions along the way, as I experienced opportunities to interact with the LCN616 unit requirements.

The Oxford Dictionary states

‘inquiry is the act of asking for information’

AND

‘learning is to acquire knowledge or skills’

Initially I pondered whether it was the innate curiosity of all creatures which led them on inquiry journeys, as they tried and tested the problem at hand. I can confirm that with a ‘YES’. The nature of inquiry is so innately embedded in our everyday lives that the learning process is natural. Presented in a cyclic fashion, as soon as an question has been answered, the next question has been spoken. I can also confirm that the inquiry journey can be as big or as small as it needs to be to answer the question. The most humble of inquiry journeys are valid in their own right, as they still take us through the process of asking, problem solving, open-ended pondering, questioning and exploring, building knowledge, taking greater control, creatively viewing the results, and reflecting upon the journey.

The wordle below is a summary of the words written in my blog. It represents the most frequently written words in the biggest font. ‘Students’ is featured the most heavily, which best describes what I am and who I work with in my life. I am a student of life everyday. As I learn through inquiry questions, I solve problems and situations at work, at home, for my family and friends, and for myself. We are all students of life, as inquiry is within us as we journey through our daily lives. When browsing the words collected in this image, I feel that it represents my mantra for learning and teaching this year.

final reflection wordle

Created with Wordle by Keiran Chandler-Pennisi

 

The three areas of interest that were discovered during Module 1‘s investigation into the inquiry learning process are as followed, with a supporting framework or model recommendation married alongside:

  • students learning geography as a way of social change (Lupton & Bruce 2010, Transformative Window)
  • the development of student research and questioning skills with the assistance of technology (Gourley 2008, Inquiry Circle)
  • inquiry learning models designed to support the learning approach (Kuhlthau 2012, Guided Inquiry Design, graphic modification by Keiran Chandler-Pennisi)

All of these points were discussed at length during my Analysis and Recommendations post in Module 3, as I suggested suitable action plans that would accommodate the needs and skills of the Year 4 students, while grounding them deeper into an inquiry learning project. After observing and collecting data about the students’ inquiry based project during Module 2 I am confident that students would thrive if given an opportunity to experience and interact with the geography curriculum content, as they took part in their own learning. Supporting teachers to develop these inquiry learning experiences would then incorporate the questioning, exploring, and reflecting into meaningful learning experiences based on student-centred learning.

Just as I said back in Module 1, my role as teacher-librarian is a valuable clog in the school machine, were I can provide students with learning experiences that develop their skills as researchers, investigators and collaborators. I now ponder how many ways I can infultrate my new found knowledge of inquiry learning and it’s models and frameworks, whereby it can assist my colleagues in their planning and classroom pedagogies.  When the learners are at the centre of the learning, and the opportunity actively provokes a social change or new form of action, students will be able to own their learning experiences and grow from their journey, while adding to their learning toolbox for the 21st century.

 On a final note, the following video shares the big picture of inquiry learning through music and images, in a mere 4 minutes. Sometimes things are better left unsaid.

 

Reference:

Chaloner, Mark (2011) YouTube Video. Teaching Inquiry Learning. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvphKkrylPLjWpGPe1Izyfg

Gourley, B. (2008). Inquiry Cycle Journey. Retrieved on 15th September, 2014.

Kulthau’s Guided Inquiry Design: Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, (2012). Chapter 1 : Guided Inquiry Design: The Process, the Learning, and the Team. In Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, Guided inquiry design: a framework for inquiry in your school, (pp.1 – 15). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

Lupton, Mandy and Bruce, Christine. (2010). Chapter 1: Windows on Information Literacy Worlds: Generic, Situated and Transformative Perspectives in Lloyd, Annemaree and Talja, Sanna, Practising information literacy : bringing theories of learning, practice and information literacy together, Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, pp.3-27.

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Analysis and Recommendations

Inquiry Structure

 To comment on the outcomes and discoveries of my journey with the Year 4 ILA, I firstly need to set the scene and ask ‘What does best practice look like in geography?’. Obviously, we are considering inquiry-based learning as a major contributor to this answer, and according to Kidman (2012) best practice in geography would have questions being posed, and students playing major roles in answering those questions themselves. When an instructional team enables the student to become researcher, the inquiry approach is not only a teaching method but also a strategy. The focus of an inquiry should engage the students in their own learning, when their knowledge grows from content they understand, while building upon skills that they are able to do. When pondering Kidman’s thoughts I know that one must also follow the breadcrumb trail and look at the structures that help build the foundations of this best practice scenario.

 Many learning frameworks, models and teaching styles have been developed around inquiry learning, for the good reason that it is a natural and instinctive way for humans to learn in their lives, by simply asking questions and seeking answers. However, when asking questions we need a focus, especially when taking students on an inquiry-learning journey. The inquiry-learning model demonstrated by the classroom teacher for this ILA, provided the focus via teacher-direction and structured activities, as the teacher posed questions along the inquiry journey while prescribing the procedure of how the students would take their learning path. Students were frequently asked to reflect on their progress by asking themselves ‘KWHL’, while also referring to the retrieval wall charts that documented their key focus lessons.

 

KWHL-chart-template

Upgrading the KWL chart from Lang Witches Blog

 

As a new initiative in the way geography was learned in this classroom, the teacher knew that the students would need to be set up for success with key focus activities, which would scaffold the skills required in tasks later on in the project. The role of the teacher at the beginning of the 9-week unit was presented as ‘expert’, as she demonstrated the knowledge and skills in set class lessons, focusing on key concept areas such as identifying genre and learning intention, Australia’s geographical location, film and generic structure, reading maps, words study, Movie Maker and an introduction to Africa. The students were aware they would be expected to take over control of their individual project in week 3, when they were given an opportunity to gradually develop a familiarity and fluency in their own learning process (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, Caspari, 2012). It is here that the teacher took off the ‘expert’ hat and played the role of a co-learner alongside her students. It was not in true sense an open inquiry, as students were still guided by the retrieval charts and encouraged to collaborate with peers, but the teacher had shifted the control over to the students.

 This pedagogical style is one that the whole school adopted during 2014 and was incorporated into the English improvement plan. Hattie’s theories on visible learning and visible teaching have become the driving force behind this change, as teachers started to consider themselves as activators instead of facilitators. To be an activator you are an active teacher, passionate for the subject and for learning, and acting as an agent of change. However, to be a facilitator, you are a provider of inquiry or discover based activities that engage the students. It would appear that in my delving I have uncovered a huge clash in theories, which leads me into unknown territory. If I were to believe everything that Hattie claims and ignore all of the world scholars who have written about inquiry learning, I would be supporting the notion that inquiry based learning is not as effective as previously thought. As Hattie (2009) reports, inquiry based teaching from the facilitating teacher does not rank as high on the effect size scale for successful teaching and learning, as other elements such as feedback, reciprocal teaching, direct instruction and goal setting.

 

Hattie 1

Hattie (2009) Comparing the effect size of different teaching roles

 

 Now, with what little experience I have had with Hattie’s theories I am not about to argue that he is wrong, however, I believe that I observed a combination of his techniques alongside an inquiry-based learning model, during my involvement with the Year 4 geography class. The classroom teacher had designed a project that followed the very nature of an inquiry model as it:

  • asked answerable questions and identified researchable problems
  • developed a plan and took a form of action
  • gathered resources and analyzed and summarized the information
  • drew conclusions and reported findings
  • reflected on the process                                                                                          (Audet & Jordan 2008)

My recommendation to assist this merging of models in the future would be to create a more authentic Guided Inquiry (Kuhlthau et al, 2007) and assemble an instructional team, where by guidance and scaffolding could be provided throughout the project from a teaching team, instead of a single teacher. Being part of the instructional team would enable me to support not only the students but also my colleagues, bringing a richness to the inquiry journey that previously was not there. Within this recommendation I would suggest that Kuhlthau’s Guided Inquiry design process model (2012) be our guide, but presented with a new look. In my personal experience with an inquiry learning process, I found the words of Kuhlthau matched my process, however, the visual suggested a strong linear process. I most definitely did not experience a linear journey, and with the help of an information search process model created by WISPR, I propose the following design that displays a more accurate model of my experience.

 

Kuhlthau New Graphic Design

Kuhlthau with New Graphic Design by WISPR

Guided inquiry design process

Kuhlthau (2012) Guided Inquiry Design

 

 

 

 

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 Inquiry Skills We Need

A main purpose for my inquiry blog journey, was to document students during their own inquiry based project, and collect data to assist in assessing how the students used and developed their inquiry skills. To understand how deeply the students engaged in the skills required and at what level they demonstrated their information literacy, we need to consider were these skills fall within the GeST perspectives of information literacy (Lupton & Bruce, 2010). The students were able to demonstrate their competencies with the skills required for the geographical inquiry which aligned with the generic perspective of information literacy, as students evaluated, managed and organized information while practicing search skills and following a series of stages to complete their projects. Most students also displayed skills within the situated perspectives as they created new knowledge through the process and outcome of engaging in authentic information practices. The focus of this ILA did not venture the students into the transformative perspective of information literacy, as the knowledge that they gained did not inspire any social change activities outside of the classroom. However, in saying that, the students’ reflections on life as a child in the countries they had researched, did bring a new found awareness as discussions emerged and the teacher realized that this style of ILA would have the potential to activate learners to challenge existing practices or the status quo. My recommendation would take this inquiry based project to the transformative level by using the GeST windows as a framework to guide the design of the ILA journey in the future. With the aid of an information literacy model such as the GeST windows, particular practices would be explicitly approached, and in turn assist in the shaping of the curriculum (Lupton & Bruce, 2010).

As mentioned above, the GeST model could assist in the planning phase of an inquiry unit as it shapes the journey intended, and therefore students would also require support and scaffolding that provides guidance. Considering the fact that all students used a computer to research their African country of choice, I would incorporate a retrieval wall chart that offered guidance in digital information searching, only after teaching a library lesson about there uses, of course. It is important to provide charts that are ‘at a glance’ easy to read, especially for middle school students. Another alternative might see the classroom teacher and students creating their own class digital information searching model, after focus lessons and exposure to charts such as the example featured below.

 

The Digital Information Fluency (DIF) is the ability to find,evaluate and use digital information effectively, efficiently and ethically.

DIF involves knowing how digital information is different from print information; having the skills to use specialized tools for finding digital information; and developing the dispositions needed in the digital information environment.

As teachers and librarians develop these skills and teach them to students, students will become better equipped to achieve their information needs.

Heine, C. & O’Connor, D. (2011)

While considering skills that students need to successfully travel through their inquiry, we need to draw attention to questioning. The very nature of the word ‘inquiry’ is to question and then ponder the answer. Students need to be equip with the adequate skills to question, and as Hattie (2009) reminds us, students can’t ask the questions unless we teach them how to ask them. Thus, bringing us to the questioning frameworks which act as our tools for inquiry, which build on our skills of inquiry.

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Inquiry Tools that Aid Us

 There is a plethora of inquiry questioning models and frameworks to consider, and all of which require modelling through a teacher-directed strategy before students can gain independence. During my own inquiry journey I compared three different frameworks to analyze the similarities and functionality of their structures, and how they might assist students in developing their skills. As above, we know that the classroom teacher used the ‘KWHL‘ model, however in my role as one of the instructional team members, I would recommend a questioning framework such as Gourley’s (2008) Inquiry Circle. The nature of this holistic model supports inquiry learning with a questioning framework, information literacy/information search process and an action research process (Lupton, 2012). How the students’ progress through their inquiry can be scaffolded through the use of the question framework, when a range of relevant questions are provided for students to use to guide their learning. Featured below in the blue bubbles, Gourley demonstrates the cyclic style of a questioning framework that I would recommend to use. What sets Gourley’s Inquiry Circle in front of the other models displayed, is the connection to personal reflection during each stage of inquiry. Many models are linear in nature and present personal reflection on conclusion of the learning journey, however asking students to reflect during the process would activate a stronger sense of self-awareness, knowledge and understanding of their learning, and in turn enhance the whole inquiry learning process.

 

Questioning Framework

Inquiry Questioning Frameworks

 

 To assist within this questioning framework even further, an information evaluation model should also be incorporated into the students inquiry skills base. Most of the Year 4 students involved in the ILA were inexperienced at making value judgements about the websites they were searching, and how relevant the content was to their inquiry. Within the proposed questioning framework, I would advocate for students to develop an awareness through the use of a website evaluation criteria, to assist in their digital information searches. When personally searching for quality sources on the internet, I now utilize the CARS checklist, which navigates the user to consider the Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness and Support of the website source. However, for primary school students I would suggest the RADCAB poster, a mnemonic acronym for information evaluation.

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 5.19.57 pm

Created by Karen M. Christensson, M.S. Library Media Education. May 2014.

 

 Also during the information search phase some Year 4 students struggled to find relevant websites. Advocating for information technology lessons to occur during the project, could have the teacher-librarian providing key focus lessons on how to use search engines with Boolean Operators, as well as the information evaluation criteria. This action plan should become a high priority for any inquiry learning project which uses the internet as its main information collection tool.

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In Conclusion

The role of the teacher-librarian and the school library are essential in the development of the learning skills recognized in the ILA discussed above, and recommendations that would improve it. The AASL’s standards for the 21st-century learner (2007) clearly support this notion, as they describe school libraries as a stimulating and safe environment, in which equitable physical and intellectual access is provided for the resources and tools required for learning. In conjunction to this, teacher-librarians should have the opportunity to collaborate with their colleagues and students to provide instruction, learning strategies, and practice in using the essential learning skills needed in the 21st century.

My aim as a teacher-librarian, would be to activate this vision in the way that I involve myself and extend my role into co-teacher, collaborative planner, and media specialist, whilst continuing to make the school library a hub for learning in all its forms – great and small.

The following Emaze presentation highlights the first steps I would take to begin the journey of supporting the 21st-century learners in a future ILA at my school. All steps have been discussed at length above, but I would like to leave you with this quick refresher.

 

Emaze conclusion

Recommendations At a Glance

 

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Reference:

American Association of School Librarians. (2007). AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. Retrieved on 1st October, 2014.

Audet, R. H., & Jordan, L. K. (Eds.). (2008). Integrating inquiry across the curriculum. Corwin Press.

Gourley, B. (2008). Inquiry Cycle Journey. Retrieved on 15th September, 2014.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning; a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: Routledge.

Heine, C. & O’Connor, D. (2011). Digital Information Fluency.

Kidman, G. (2012). Geographical inquiry in Australian schools: a retrospective analysis. International research in geographical and environmental education, 21 (4), p. 311.

Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, (2012). Chapter 1: Guided Inquiry Design: The Process, the Learning, and the Team. In Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, Guided inquiry design: a framework for inquiry in your school, (pp.1 – 15). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

Kulthau’s Guided Inquiry Design: Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, (2012). Chapter 1 : Guided Inquiry Design: The Process, the Learning, and the Team. In Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, Guided inquiry design: a framework for inquiry in your school, (pp.1 – 15). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

Lupton, Mandy. What is inquiry learning? Inquiry Learning and Information Literacy. 22 August 2012.

Lupton, Mandy and Bruce, Christine. (2010). Chapter 1: Windows on Information Literacy Worlds: Generic, Situated and Transformative Perspectives in Lloyd, Annemaree and Talja, Sanna, Practising information literacy : bringing theories of learning, practice and information literacy together, Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, pp.3-27.

Findings

Findings-1As previously mentioned in the Methodology post, a group of Year 4 Geography students were involved in an information learning activity (ILA). This inquiry-based project required the students to research an African country and present their knowledge as a documentary movie. During week 3 and week 9, fifteen students participated in both questionnaire no. 2 and no. 3, to assist the classroom teacher and myself in learning more about the students progression during the inquiry learning process. The data collected from students who only completed one questionnaire has been excluded from the final results in an effort to keep consistency. Questionnaire 1 was omitted from this process also, due to the time-frame of the project and the potential of over-surveying the students. To view the information collected from the students in the below info-graphic images, click on each graph to enlarge.

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Figure 1

Figure 1

 

For question 1, fifteen students were asked to indicate their knowledge of an African country, by way of writing in full sentences. Their unlimited responses were then coded into the categories of fact, explanation and conclusion statements. Unfortunately many student responses were written in point form, making it hard to code the results at times. Note taking was practiced often in relation to this geography project, and by default students used it during the questionnaires even after being asked to write in full sentences. This lack of sentence structure may have hindered the possibilities of more explanation and conclusion statements being shared.

The data featured in figure 1, illustrates the students’ responses from questionnaire 2 and 3. When looking at the results, two areas stand out. The substantial increase of factual statements from 35 responses in questionnaire 2 to 97 responses in questionnaire 3, and the minimal conclusion statements given by students. Firstly, the increased fact data reflects that students were firmly seated in the functional level of doing from the Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy model (Grantham, 2014), as they were recognizing, listing, and describing the information found during their research sessions. These results could also imply that the students considered their fact collecting to be the most important part of the research process. Secondly, with only two conclusion statements shared, students lacked in showing their conceptualizing (Grantham, 2014) of the data, and didn’t reflect a connection between the information, by way of deconstructing and comparing the meaning of their data collected.

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figure 2

Figure 2

For question 2, students indicated their interest in their chosen topic by selecting one of the four responses provided. The data shown for questionnaire 2 in figure 2, demonstrates the willingness of students’ tuning in (Gourley, 2008) to the project, with 14 out of 15 either ‘quite a bit’ or ‘a great deal’ interested. The very nature of an inquiry-based project is to engage the learner and allow them to navigate the pathway, and I believe this notion is fairly represented in the numbers for questionnaire 2.

By the end of the project, most students remained interested in their topic, with only two students tuning out and one other remaining uninterested. A potential reason for the loss of interest in these students could have came from their feelings of disappointment (Kuhlthau, 2004) in regards to their final presentation. The documentary movie may not have turned out as they had imagined and were left feeling disheartened. Interestingly, these same students shared that they felt frustrated and confused for extended periods of time during the exploration phase of the project. For most students though, the main motivation for staying on track was the opportunity to design, create and edit a movie. From informal conversations with some of the students who struggled with the script writing phase, creating (Grantham, 2014) a documentary movie was seen as a major reward, which assisted them in sustaining their involvement.

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Q3 perceived knowledge

Figure 3

 

For question 3, students were asked to comment on their level of knowledge about their chosen country. Figure 3 shows that out of the nine students who responded with ‘quite a bit’ for questionnaire 2, only one perceived to have learned more in questionnaire 3 by answering ‘a great deal’. This data implies that these students involved did not build knowledge and learn by constructing their own understanding of their encounters (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007). However, it is more likely that these students were unaware of their lack of knowledge at the beginning of the inquiry process when questionnaire 2 was given, and by week 9 when questionnaire 3 was administered, they had most definitely collected more knowledge along the way. When looking at the increase in information shared by these students in the open-ended questions this notion is logical. When comparing the quality and quantity of the data shared, these students had built on their prior knowledge. Most of the students who responded with ‘not much’ in questionnaire 2 (5 students), later shared that they had learned ‘a great deal’ about their country during the project. This data reflects that this group of students were perhaps more aware of their current knowledge at the time of the questionnaires and were able to reflect more accurately.

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To fully understand the results for question 4 and 5, we firstly need to see how the emerging themes linked back to the Australian Curriculum’s Inquiry Skills Sequence for geography, adapted by Lupton (2012). Figure 4 also displays the student responses, which were unlimited. Between the two questionnaires, 77 student responses were then coded into the three categories of literacy skills, technology skills, and data collection. Acknowledging the close relationship and similarities between the student responses and the Inquiry Skills Sequence allows us, as educators, to recognise were more focused support needs to be for the students, and how inquiry-based projects such as this one, can be re-designed for future student success.

Figure 4

Figure 4

 

Figure 5

Figure 5

 

For question 4 and 5, students were asked to identify what tasks they found easy or hard while conducting their research. The students were not limited to making only one comment, and so the data displayed in figure 5 represents how frequently each theme was mentioned in the student responses. For example, questionnaire 2 shows 14 comments making up almost half of the student responses relating to data collection being easy –

“finding countries that border Zaire”

“a lot of information about the population and the people”

“pictures of native animals”

“finding the oceans and the natural vegetation”

“researching for maps and images”

While comparing the two bar graphs in figure 5, it is important to consider that questionnaire 2 collected 30 comments, when questionnaire 3 collected 47 comments. It is interesting to see that students had more to share about their experience after it was completed. With this increased self-awareness (Kuhlthau, 2004) the students were able to reflect and think about the ideas they encountered during the inquiry process, enabling them to construct their own knowledge and meaning required to successfully complete the project (Kuhlthau et al., 2007).

In questionnaire 3 of figure 5, the data also displays the students stronger sense of skills required within their increased self-awareness (Kuhlthau, 2004), as the student responses spread more evenly over the three categories. This growing knowledge occurred as the project progressed, while students experienced tasks such as making sense of website information, writing scripts from dot points into their own words, and creating movies using new software. The same four students remained consistent in their responses relating to the literacy skills being hard, which was to be expected as they all struggled with low level literacy skills. The substantial increase in the categories of ‘technology skills easy’, ‘technology skills hard’ and ‘literacy skills easy’, implies that the students had not given much thought to the skills required for the project to begin with, but were able to rise to the challenge through the ongoing support of their classroom teacher.

“The script was the hardest because it was hard to make dot points into sentences.”

“Looking for the right website was hard.”

“I didn’t have a laptop for 2 weeks.”

“The narration and the script writing was hard.”

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figure 6

Figure 6

 

The above results were specific to questionnaire 3 only, as students were asked to consider what they had learned from doing their research project. The graph displays each student’s single response to the question. Similar to question 4 and 5, themes emerged from the student responses that reflected their experiences. Topics such as curriculum content in the fact recall tasks, ICT skills development in Movie Maker, information literacy in the research tasks, and personal development in the new interest area, all appeared and were represented in the student quotes featured below:

“I learnt how to use Movie Maker.”

“I learnt research was a little hard.”

“Egypt is a hard country to research.”

“That Kenya is a fascinating country.”

“I learnt about natural habitats, physical features, climates, and all religions of Egypt.”

Once again, the high results in ‘more facts’ reflects that the students considered information recall as an important skill on the agenda of the project. It is also interesting to note that the whole class learned to use Movie Maker for this project, but yet only one student mentioned it as something new. I suspect this may reflect that the students of today are so seamless with the uptake of ‘new technology skills’, that they do not acknowledge it consciously, just like scratching your nose when it is itchy, whereas learning more information about a country on the other side of the world is extremely foreign, unusual and most certainly stands out as ‘new’.

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Figure 7

Figure 7

 

For the concluding question of questionnaire 2 and 3, students were asked to reflect upon their feelings towards the research project through the description of their emotions. It is interesting to see that ‘confidence’ was the predominant response for at least 50% of the students in both questionnaires. I would relate this to the excellent level of one-to-one student teacher time, which was made available by the classroom teacher. The teacher gave regular verbal feedback to the students, and made suggestions to provoke forward thinking. It is logical to see that one third of students in questionnaire 2 felt confused, overwhelmed, or frustrated during the exploration stage of the information search process (Kuhlthau, 2004), however, with 94%  of the students feeling confident and happy with their final project it is easy to say that they finished with a strong sense of accomplishment (Kuhlthau, 2004).

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To view the info-graphic in presentation mode click here

 

Reference:

Gourley, B. (2008). Inquiry Circle. Retrieved on 15th September, 2014.

Grantham, N. (2014). Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy Model, Fractus Learning. Retrieved on 20th September, 2014.

Kuhlthau, C.C. (2004) Information Search Process. Retrieved on 30th September, 2014.

Kuhlthau, C.C.; Maniotes, L.K. & Caspari, A.K. (2007). Chapter 2: The Theory and Research Basis for Guided Inquiry in Kuhlthau, Carol C. ; Maniotes, Leslie K. & Caspari, Ann K, Guided inquiry : learning in the 21st century, Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited, pp.13-28.

Lupton, M. (2012) Peer Review: Inquiry Skills in the Australian Curriculum. Access. June 2012. Retrieved 20th September 2014.

Todd, R., Kulthau, C.C., Heinstrom, J.E. (2005) School Library Impact Measure. A Toolkit and Handbook for Tracking and Assessing Student Learning Outcomes Of Guided Inquiry Through The School Library.

Action Taken

Hattie explains

Teachers do matter – especially those teachers who teach in a most deliberate and visible manner, so that when they see learning occurring or not occurring, they intervene in calculated and meaningful ways to alter the direction of learning, to attain various shared, specific, and challenging goals. (p22, 2009)

visible teaching - visible learning

visible teaching – visible learning (Hattie, 2009)

 

The unit of work that became the focus of my ILA, was the first time the classroom teacher had incorporated the learning areas of English, Technology and Geography, under the school wide approach of Hattie’s visible learning. During 2014, the staff began actively training and utilizing Hattie’s visible learning framework within the school’s English improvement plan. This approach promotes the potential for teachers to become more effective in their teaching and increase their effect size of students becoming better learners. For teachers to have success, Hattie (2009) explains that teachers should set transparent learning goals to encourage student engagement, make students more aware of their success criteria, and provide rapid formative feedback to students to assist in the development of more positive learning attributes.

During the term, the classroom teacher created information charts based on the key concept lessons relating to the inquiry project. With these wall charts displayed permanently on the classroom walls, students were encouraged to retrieve information from them when they felt that they needed more guidance. To have a better idea of how the classroom teacher supported her class through visible learning, click on the Popplet image below. Hattie’s framework is presented in the black bubbles, which helped support the inquiry learning nature of the project.

action taken popplet

As a result of this new framework roll out at the school, I was not able to be involved in the classroom lessons due to the structure and the time frame, however, the classroom teacher and I were able to have several informal talks about the progression of the students. On several occasions I was able to observe the students in class time while working on their projects, which also assisted in feedback to the classroom teacher. At these times, I saw the classroom teacher demonstrating the Hattie framework by way of her transparent learning intentions, student awareness of the success criteria, and the rapid formative feedback given.

The only way I was able to assist in the student progress, was to collect data on how they were working and feeling about their  project by way of survey, and this process is featured in my Methodology post. After administering and analyzing the results from questionnaire 2, presented in my Findings post, the classroom teacher and I were able to reflect on the weakest points of the process. Student survey responses mirrored what we, as educators, had observed. Some students lost extensive work time searching the internet unsuccessfully, others found too much information and did not know how to narrow down the results to make it more relevant. During the students’ note-taking, it was also evident that some students had collected unreliable information as well. Several of the researching tasks were deemed difficult by the students, which could have been supported during official library lessons.

My role as teacher-librarian this year has had a major change of direction by principal request, and the traditional library lessons ceased in term 1, as my role turned towards a curriculum and resource/collection management focus. However, during the Year 4 project, focused library lessons about information literacy skills such as using search engines, evaluating information, data organization and management, and technology skills such as using Movie Maker, would have been a major bonus for all learners involved. Although the classroom teacher offered frequent feedback and revision to students individually and as a whole class, incorporating my role as teacher-librarian to support in collaboration and co-teaching would assist in the learning success of the students during the inquiry learning process in the further. More comments on this topic are found in my Analysis and Recommendations post.

The students can’t ask the questions unless we teach them how to ask them, that means we need to frame the way we structure our lessons around that sort of immediate feedback. (Hattie, 2009)

Hattie's Student questions

Hattie (2009) created in Wordle by Keiran Chandler-Pennisi

Reference:

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning; a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: Routledge.

Methodology

The conducting of the Information Learning Activity (ILA) was heavily driven by the Year 4 classroom teacher, who designed a term long unit of work interconnecting the learning areas of English, Geography and Technology. Due to scheduling, I was unable to co-teach any of the aspects, however the classroom teacher was interested in modifying the unit in the future so that I could participate. Throughout the duration of the ILA, students had access to class laptops, non-fiction texts, and verbal feedback during individual conferencing with their teacher.

The following Prezi shares the Methodology process, as I describe the steps taken, the people involved and their roles, and the tools used to collect the relevant data.

Prezi image

Reference:

Lupton, Mandy and Bruce, Christine. (2010). Chapter 1 : Windows on Information Literacy Worlds : Generic, Situated and Transformative Perspectives in Lloyd, Annemaree and Talja, Sanna, Practising information literacy : bringing theories of learning, practice and information literacy together, Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, pp.3-27. (page 13)

Todd, R., Kuhlthau, C.C., & Heinstrom, J.E. (2005). School Library Impact Measure. A Toolkit and Handbook for Tracking and Accessing Student Learning Outcomes of Guided Inquiry Through the School Library. Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries, Rutgers University.

Description of the Information Learning Activity (ILA)

A very brave group of Year 4 students put on their ‘David Attenborough’ hats and began a 9 week project, involving an inquiry process which combined the learning areas of English, Geography and Technology. The creation and production of their own movie documentaries represented the finale of this learning process.

The students were asked to

  • develop a geographical question to investigate
  • collect information and data to answer the inquiry question
  • describe and compare a range of characteristics of different countries in different continents
  • identify the features of places and describes their location
  • draw conclusions about factors that affect the characteristics of places
  • use a range of texts and geographical terminology to communicate their findings and ideas (ACARA, 2014)

 

Reference:

ACARA. (2014). Australian Curriculum. Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum F-10. Geography. Retrieved September 20, 2014.

It finishes with…..

A blurry speck in the distance was the beginning of my inquiry-learning journey as mentioned in the initial post, as I was met with uncertainty and vagueness, along with my natural curiosity that sent me seeking for MORE.

As this speck in the distance came into focus I could clearly see what I had had my sights set on during this inquiry process – MORE. I acquired more skills, more knowledge, more awareness, more clarity, more dead-ends, and more light bulb moments. This could go on, but lets leave it at ‘more’. On reflection, I experienced all of the many stages of Carol Kuhlthau’s ISP Model in a variety of combinations.

However, I feel that my progression in the inquiry journey is better represented in the following diagram, due to my random dancing around in some of the stages. The imagery of the WISPR research process model represents the many directional pathways a person can take, and I am certain I did. WISPR is specially designed to introduce students to the scientific research process, with focus on strategies to write a good thesis/research question and ways to effectively find and evaluate information. I would rename each stage in this model to suit the intended audience, but the pale blue lines speak volumes for the distance travelled during the learning processes.

http://yclibw.yukoncollege.yk.ca/wispr/dl1.yukoncollege.yk.ca/wispr/index.html

To answer my question about humans ‘trying and testing’, it is clear to see a link to the exploration, formulation and collection stage from the ISP model. During the development of the search strings within the expert searching task, my ‘tried and tested’ knowledge was applied as I attempted to re-use what worked successfully with Google and Google Scholar. When applying it to A+ Education and Proquest Education search engines, my results were unsuccessful. More random dancing around occurred. Whether my presentation and assessment had been displayed as a grand or modest moment, a sense of accomplishment and increased self-awareness occurred in the final stage of posting the newly acquired information about searching online. I also came to realise that each post requirement seemed to feel like a miniature inquiry process as a whole, starting with the initiation and working through to the presentation stage for each new task.

The three areas of interest that appeared clearly into view at the end of this inquiry process were:

  • students learning geography as a way of social change
  • the development of student research and questioning skills with the assistance of technology
  • inquiry learning models designed to support the learning approach

From here, my plans should see active promotion of units that adopt an inquiry learning approach in geography, by way of collaboratively planning with teaching staff, and supporting them with the sourcing, access and training of digital resources. In a teacher-librarian role, many opportunities are available to provide students with learning experiences that develop their skills as researchers, investigators and collaborators,   therefore adding to their learning toolboxes for the 21st century. The learner should always be at the centre of the learning, and with the notion of ‘doing inquiry’, students can own their learning experiences and grow from their journey, just as long as they take the first step out of the comfort zone.

inquiry learning foot print

Smell Like, Feel Like, Look Like

What would an inquiry learning approach smell like, feel like and look like for primary school students learning with geography?

The purpose of this essay is to better understand how inquiry learning in primary school geography has made it to this point, uncover how the geographical pedagogies of the past have shaped it, and what impact does the advancements of the technological world have on the learners of the 21st century. While delving into the world of the inquiry learning approach for geography in primary schools, three areas of interest appeared: students learning geography as a way of social change, the development of student research and questioning skills with the assistance of technology, and inquiry learning models designed to support this learning approach. Approaching from a teacher-librarians’ perspective, my aim is to learn more in these fields to become better informed and equipped to assist teaching staff through the learning process of inquiry learning in geography, and also in other learning areas.

As a child in primary school, the subject ‘geography’ appeared to be an abstract concept, unrelated to my everyday life and bogged down by facts that were too hard for me to remember. Geography was a mystery until I wanted to travel somewhere in my mid 20s. I am not the first to have had this experience and I won’t be the last.
http://www.zazzle.com.au/geography+teacher+joke+postcards
Geography as a vehicle for social change – Smell Like

I am all for a good cause, and the possibilities of societal improvements for a better world just makes my heart sing. The notion of teaching and learning is to be better informed, and with the focus on Geography as a tool to activate practitioners in teaching and students in learning journeys, we can create a better world (Hutchinson, 2011). Through the process of geographical inquiry, we can construct understanding of the natural and human-designed worlds (Kidman, 2012). Jacklin (2008) also states that experiencing through project-based learning has the potential to offer students greater learning and understanding base from which to draw from, as they mature and live in today’s world. With the modern student building on their awareness of the world around them and adding to their skills as an active participant in geography, the potential for real societal change is possible.

Developing Skills – Feel Like

It is important for schools to change from a focus on “what we know” to an emphasis on “how we come to know” (Kidman, 2012), which is possible through skills development for the modern learner. With this shift of emphasis from product to process by teachers and students, learners actively constructed their own understandings, and the student responsibility for their own learning is increased (Ashworth, 2002). Geography as a discipline is founded on robust concepts, and therefore skills-based learning should aspire to assimilate these big ideas in students’ existing knowledge structures (Hutchinson, 2011). Through broader experiences in thinking, collaborating and solving problems, made available by project-based learning (Jacklin, 2008), students develop their own set of skills for their learning toolbox.

KS3-Geography-2

In this digital age there is a need to develop evaluating skills in students, aiding them to determine the usefulness of the data recovery, and therefore increasing the relevant use of technology as part of the learning journey (Pappas, 2009). Furthermore, skills development needs to cultivate the ‘process’ of student knowledge through topic information, data collection and evaluation, findings and analysis, presentation and reporting, as part of the learning journey (Chu, 2008). Working collaboratively throughout, student ownership is brought into focus, with students recognising what part of the process they are in and what their job is during a particular phase (Ashworth, 2002). This also highlights how the supportive roles of the teachers can influence the development of the research skills in the students.

Inquiry Learning Unit Development – Look Like

Historically, geography lessons have lacked the inquiry learning approach, with many school geography courses using a prescriptive nature presented via content heavy textbooks. Kidman (2012) argues that the lack of qualified teachers has led to this scenario and has impinged on geographical pedagogies over time. However, new standards for 21st century learning demands that things change. There is a need for effective geographical pedagogy worldwide, which should have students experiencing learning opportunities that incorporate information, media and technology skills (Pappas, 2009). Through the inquiry learning approach, whereby students have the autonomy to make decisions about what they want to investigate, the product and how to go about this process (Green, 2012), mindful and collaborative planning by teaching staff can also see the promotion of interdisciplinary learning across more than one learning area.

The advocacy of teacher-librarians working collaboratively with teaching staff, can support students to become better equip with the knowledge and skills they need to conduct inquiry-based learning projects effectively (Chu, 2008). Within this process, teacher support can be seen as more of a supervisory role and one that encourages individualised learning and decision-making (Green, 2012). The development of student skills could see the application of inquiry models such as De Bono’s 6 hats of inquiry, where a planned unit of work provides students with an opportunity to develop their skills in deciding, locating, using, recording, presenting, and assessing skills (Ashworth, 2002). The introduction of web-based models of inquiry, could have students journey through a personal inquiry project, whereby a scripted personal inquiry approach supports teachers’ and students’ understanding of the inquiry process in terms of inquiry phases, such as planning their own methodology, and other associated activities (Kerawalla, 2013).

Conclusively,  from a teacher-librarians’ perspective trying to address the issues mentioned above, a strong development in research skills could derive from the explicit teaching of guided research. With the application of thinking tools, both printed and digital, and an increased responsibility for learning, students could be seen developing their skills in monitoring, evaluating and reflection on their own learning as they use an inquiry learning process in geography (Ashworth, 2002). Where appropriate, planning collaboratively with teaching staff, learning experiences could infuse across the curriculum while offering students full support from a team of teaching staff.

References:

Ashworth, W. (2002). The primary geographer : inquiring and thinking : using the inquiry process and De Bono’s thinking hats to investigate. Interaction, 30 (4), p. 41.

Chu, S. (2008). Grade 4 students’ development of research skills through inquiry-based learning projects. School libraries worldwide, 14 (1), p. 10.

Green, G. (2012). Inquiry and learning : what can IB show us about inquiry?. Access, 26 (2), p. 19.

Hutchinson, N. (2011). A geographically informed vision of skills development. Geographical Education, 24, p.15-33.

Jacklin, R. (2008). Building student knowledge: A study of project-based learning to aid geography concept recall. Walden University. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 214-n/a.

Kerawalla, L. (2013). Personal inquiry learning trajectories in geography: technological support across contexts. Interactive learning environments, 21 (6), p. 497.

Kidman, G. (2012). Geographical inquiry in Australian schools: a retrospective analysis. International research in geographical and environmental education, 21 (4), p. 311.

Pappas, M. L. (2009). Inquiry and 21st-Century Learning. School library media activities monthly, 25 (9), p. 49.

Supporting Articles

Inquiry Learning in Primary School Geography Classrooms

Following is a collection of sources discovered during the expert searching process. The ILA focus for Module 2 have parameters which feature inquiry learning within geography in a primary school environment. The collection of sources within this annotated bibliography have a combination of two or more of these key elements, with a variety of point of views featured. To ensure the quality of these chosen sources, I utilised the CARS checklist, to develop an evaluation criteria for selection.

 Sources need to be:

  • a trustworthy source with author’s credentials
  • current, comprehensive, and reflect intention
  • a source that engages the subject reasonably
  • able to support claims with listed sources and documentation
  • able relate to the focus of inquiry learning in primary schools in the subject area of geography
  • a combination of professional resources and scholarly writings applicable to inquiry learning
CARS Checklist for Source Evaluation

CARS Checklist for Source Evaluation

The aim of this collection is to aid my investigation into geography in primary schools – what does it smell like, feel like, and look like, especially to the children involved. These articles cover topics such as social change and world awareness, inquiry learning approaches with unit planning and framework overviews, and the impact technology has and will continue to have on student learning.

Source 1 – found via Google Scholar

Chu, S (2008). Grade 4 students’ development of research skills through inquiry-based learning projects. School libraries worldwide, 14 (1), p. 10.

This research paper is based on a study of an inquiry based learning project with 141 Year 4 students in Hong Kong, and examines how they develop their knowledge and skills within the process. It promotes the introduction of IBL into the general studies curriculum as a way to help students develop basic inquiry, investigative, and problem-solving skills. It argues that rote learning is still the dominant way of teaching and learning worldwide, and promotes the use of inquiry based learning projects as a way to help bridge the gap for learners of the 21st century. It highlights how the supportive roles of the teachers can influence the development of the research skills in the students. Furthermore this article identifies and describes a four-step ‘Process of students’ knowledge Cultivation’ – topic information, data collection and evaluation, findings and analysis, presentation and reporting, and highly recommends working collaboratively throughout the process. This study demonstrates how a collaborative approach involving three kinds of teachers and the school librarian, can equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to conduct IBL projects works effectively.

Initially, I chose this article for the target age group of students involved, as it matches my group of students for the ILA, and papers written for the middles years of primary school inquiry learning have been hard to find. Although the documented scenario is on a grand scale, the promotion and application of IBL projects described could provide a guide of how small schools initiate through the students’ knowledge cultivation process. It is a starting point for teacher-librarians to work collaboratively with teaching staff to develop custom made inquiry learning designs during planning. This article has strong credibility with supportive references and research colleagues highly accomplished in this field.

Source 2 – found via Google Scholar

Kerawalla, L. (2013). Personal inquiry learning trajectories in geography: technological support across contexts. Interactive learning environments, 21 (6), p. 497.

The intention of this article is to understand the ways in which the development of young people’s inquiry learning trajectories across contexts when supported through their use of nQuire . nQuire is a personal inquiry tool kit, originally designed for science, however is implemented as a new technological approach to aide within the geography fieldwork. The Personal Inquiry (PI) project has developed a scripted personal inquiry approach which supports teachers’ and students’ understanding of the inquiry process in terms of inquiry phases (e.g. plan my methodology) and associated activities. It promotes the engagement of students in the design of inquiries, as a way of learning about the inquiry process and the domain being studied, and differs to other types of learning experiences where they are less involved in creating lesson content and activities. The aim of this article is to shed light on the ways in which the teacher and her students used nQuire and whether it played a role in mediating the students’ progression through their inquiries. The findings illustrate how the students’ use of nQuire supported their understanding, and planning, of what they needed to do, why, how, when and where, all in relation to their geography fieldwork.

Reading this article suggests the very nature of thinking outside the square by using a science web-based tool and applying it to geography fieldwork. In the teacher-librarian role, we are required to modify resources and accommodate for new learning experiences frequently. This approach showed a flexible, evolving, collectively constructed inquiry space, in which the groups’ unfolding understanding of ‘doing an inquiry’ was being constituted. It also reminds us as educator how important the value of technology is within the inquiry learning process for the modern learner, and to be brave enough to venture into ideas that could compliment a learning opportunity. Be ground breaking in your planning and implementing of inquiry learning units!

Source 3 – found via Google Scholar

Pappas, M.L. (2009). Inquiry and 21st-Century Learning. School library media activities monthly, 25 (9), p. 49.

In this article, Pappas discusses the framework and new standards for 21st Century learning, which incorporates information, media and technology skills, and reflects on the effectiveness of geographical pedagogy worldwide. Further discussion comes from rote learning as a result of passing standardised testing, and Pappas debates that the emphasis on learning content is in direct contrast to the world outside the school walls. The technological capability to provide access to content already exists and students are extremely capable of sourcing it. However, it is what students do with the information at their fingertips, which leads to the suggestion of guided inquiry bridging the gap. With a brief description of different models suitable for use by the library media specialist in collaboration with classroom teachers, Pappas advocates that guided inquiry requires the engagement of the classroom teacher or the library media specialist, to use questioning and reflection to help guide students to a deeper understanding that ultimately leads them to ask, “What did I learn?”. In conclusion, there is a push to develop evaluating skills in the digital natives of today, to determine the usefulness of the data recovery, and therefore increasing the relevant use of technology as part of the learning journey.

It is made clear throughout this article that the importance of developing information literacy skills in students is paramount. The 21st century learners have information at their fingertips, and may be expert ‘surfers’ but not expert ‘searchers’. I have seen this scenario demonstrated countless times when a research task has commenced. This article also provides a comprehensive list of web tools and inquiry-focused web resources.

Source 4 – found via Google Scholar

Kidman, G. (2012). Geographical inquiry in Australian schools: a retrospective analysis. International research in geographical and environmental education, 21 (4), p. 311.

This entertaining article explores the autobiographical context of Kidman’s geography education, to expose the inquiry learning opportunities, and the lack thereof, made available during the 1970’s and 1980’s. It provides an overview of school geography courses and frameworks from 1911 – 1987, with the descriptive nature of textbooks and lack of qualified teachers impinging on the geographical pedagogies. Students and teachers were encouraged to enjoy their own environment and to visit other environments but student inquiry work done in their own time. This article also emphasises a dual role: teaching by inquiry (general inquiry) and the notion of teaching as inquiry; teaching as inquiry stresses active student learning and the importance of understanding a topic. Kidman also points out that although the Australian Curriculum: Geography heavily advocates for geographical inquiry, it is crucial to acknowledge the issues in regards to the lack of teacher professional learning, to ensure successful implementation of inquiry in geography. Through the process of geographical inquiry, we can construct understanding of the natural and human-designed worlds. It is important for schools to change from a focus on “what we know” to an emphasis on “how we come to know.”

Kidman advocates that geographical inquiry should be seen as activities, which allow us to study the characteristics and functioning of our world, or the problems in our world and that we need to start this process in the early grades of primary school. This notion supports my thoughts that inquiry-based learning skills should be consistently nurtured and developed during the primary years, and where possible should be presented via co-curricula formats. If we were to think of inquiry skills as part of our learning toolbox, we would need to pack them on a daily basis, just like our lunchbox.

Source 5 – found via A+ Education

 Ashworth, W. (2002). The primary geographer : inquiring and thinking : using the inquiry process and De Bono’s thinking hats to investigate. Interaction, 30 (4), p. 41.

This brief article features a trial developed by the Greenvale Middle Years team, who collaboratively developed a unit of work based on an inquiry approach to learning. With the application of De Bono’s 6 hats of inquiry, this SOSE unit of work planned to develop – deciding, locating, using, recording, presenting, and assessing skills. It aims to bring focus onto the students, and have them recognise what part of the process they are in and what is their job in a particular phase, while wearing a coloured hat. The very nature of this unit requires students to think about the way they are travelling from point A to point B in the learning process and incorporates a strong sense of student ownership. From observations, this article reports that there was a positive shift of emphasis from product to process by teachers and students, and as the learners actively constructed their own understandings, there was increased student responsibility for learning.

This ground level paper ticked all of the boxes for my ILA: inquiry, geography, middle primary years, even though it was not as current as I would have liked. It is easy to read, understand and put into action from a teachers point of view. I would consider using this article as a starting point with teaching colleagues during a planning session, to assist the process of unit development. Its prescriptive nature offers a step-by-step process with examples. It also stands as a testament to the need for explicitly teaching questioning skills, so that students can continually add to their learning toolbox.

De Bono's 6 Hats

Source 6 – found via A+ Education – advanced search

Green, G. (2012). Inquiry and learning : what can IB show us about inquiry?. Access, 26 (2), p. 19.

This brief paper looks at some of the guiding principles that underpin IB approach inquiry, with specific reference to the Middle Years Program (MYP). The International Baccalaureate (IB) approach to inquiry has the learner firmly at the centre of the inquiry. Green describes the MYP framework, whereby students have the autonomy to make decisions about what they want to investigate, the product and how to go about this process. Within this process, the teacher support is more of a supervisory role and one that encourages individualised learning and decision-making. Importantly, the MYP model is not the driver of the learning, as it is the learning, the task or the students that sit at the heart of inquiry. Green goes on to promote the IB approach to inquiry as one that provides a rich tapestry of opportunity for the teacher-librarian, as it affirms many of the sound pedagogical underpinnings of inquiry-based learning that we already employ. In conclusion, it challenges us to look more flexibly at our role and in a wider educational sense, to see in what ways we can engage with our learning communities beyond research and Guided Inquiry.

I see this article as a promotional text for the success of inquiry learning, and I am easily convinced. It covers many of the advantages of the IB framework, as well as encouragement to get involved in inquiry learning. It does highlight a key concern for teacher-librarians in regards to the challenge of trying to be more involved in the collaborative planning stage, with a focus on inquiry units that promote interdisciplinary learning across more than one learning area. This is suggested on the notion that deeper meaning will emerge if learning areas can immerse students in varied but contextual frameworks. I would use this more academically written article to share with colleagues, to entice them to the other side – inquiry learning and co-teaching with me.

Source 7 – found via A+ Education – browse publications

Hutchinson, N. (2011). A geographically informed vision of skills development. Geographical Education, 24, p.15-33.

This article by Hutchinson, skims the pedagogical content knowledge and skills development present in the shaping of the Australian Curriculum: Geography, and argues that skills development, along with literacy and numeracy has become one of the significant mantras of contemporary educational discourse. In addition, it presents Geography as a discipline founded on robust concepts, and therefore skills-based learning should aspire to assimilate these big ideas in students’ existing knowledge structures. Judgments are made in reference to primary teacher’s geographical subject knowledge coming from geographical life experiences, formal geographical experiences after school, and experiences at school as a learner of geography, as oppose to high school teachers who are seen as better informed
by geographical scholarship. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of geographical pedagogy, viewpoints, concepts and methodologies that incorporate elements such as:

  • teaching and learning geography that is neither values free, nor subject free
  • discussing the values, educational ideologies and skills
  • making comparisons of learning theory and skills from Theorist, offering skills exemplars
  • comparing research on classroom skills development and cognitive neuroscience research

It concludes with the focus on Geography as a tool, to activate practitioners in teaching and students in learning journeys, to create a better world.

While reading this article I am struck by the simple mechanics of geography – it is all about the skills development of students, which inform them and therefore build well-connected young people to real world problems. It is an empowering concept, which teachers would get excited about worldwide. The world is a work in progress, let’s all get involved.

Social Awareness

Source 8 – found via ProQuest Education

Jacklin, R. (2008). Building student knowledge: A study of project-based learning to aid geography concept recallWalden University. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 214-n/a.

In this doctoral study, Jacklin aims to find whether the use of project-based learning might impact the delivery and content retention of geography concepts. It is suggested that if implemented, project-based learning could bridge education to societal improvement, as students will have a greater learning and understanding base from which to draw as they mature and live in today’s world. Jacklin argues that the issue of schools not meeting objectives for student learning is critical, and the nature of this study could help other teacher leaders carry out their own investigations within their classrooms as they strive to improve student learning. Furthermore, Jacklin provides extensive literature reviews, that cover the perspective of the learner, motivation, social learning, cognitive theories, PBL and IBL, and concludes with the role that teachers and teacher-librarians could play in the process. The ultimate goal of this research paper is to highlight that contributing to social change by positively influencing tomorrow’s adults, could be achieved through broader experiences in thinking, collaborating and solving problems, made available by project-based learning.

This paper echoes a similar notion as source 5 in this annotated bibliography, with the need for information literacy skills development for the modern learner highlighted. However, it also overtly adds humanity and social change implications to geography inquiry learning, which I found very interesting. Previously I had not thought to promote the powers and talents of inquiry learning this far. In a nutshell, this concept supports the real world, student ownership that teaching staff aim to provide in well-rounded unit of work. This is something to aspire to for all teachers and teacher-librarians.

For more information and resources on inquiry learning visit ……