High Order Questioning

Well it's been quite a while since i've penned something for this page and now it's fast heading for that end of year mayhem time when everyone is far too busy to read professionally. However ...
I have been reading some material about questioning today and thought i would share it with you. We have visited the notosh site before but it's worth a refresher, especially now that you have been working in this area for a whole year. Ewan has recently posted a conversation about his preference to work in schools rather than give keynotes around the world. In his chat, he mentions thinking cubes and I agree that these are a great way to really focus on good questions - yours, and supporting your children to ask them. Here's Ewan's post But if you want to go directly to the NoTosh Lab (these Labs have lots of great material) and read about using thinking cubes to really move students beyond 'regurgitation of the facts around a subject to more creative or independent thought about those ideas', click here I will put a permanent link on the asking questions page too so it will be easier to find.


Thanks for showing us your inquiry lessons in action yesterday. It's always hard having someone in watching but it certainly helped us know what to suggest for your next steps. We saw some really good things happening, lots of very engaged students (particularly the boys) so everything is going according to plan. Our suggestions are just that, things you could think about as next steps in the process for you and your children.
I mentioned to Sonia that there was a way to get a Word document to summarise the words on a page. This is a really useful strategy to use when you are taking text from the internet and it's too big a chunk for your children to manage and stay interested. You can adjust the number of words or percentage of the text you want it to produce, and then you can easily go through the shorter version and replace the tricky words for ones that are more accessible to those students who have difficulty reading. Remember, reading age relies on the length of sentences and number of ideas in each sentence as well as level of vocab used so think about how you can alter these aspects too.
Here is a video that shows you how to Auto Summarise your text.
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I've just come back from New Plymouth and saw this wonderful example of junior children developing their inquiry questions. This photo was taken in the office foyer where this beautiful display greets visitors. All children went to the rocky shore and then thought about what questions they had. These rocky shore questions are on the display. This display was in the classroom as a focus but has now moved to the welcoming school foyer. Stunning!

Lots of new material has gone up recently. For example, I've put some new material up on the What does it look like? page to show you what Island Bay School are doing around Inquiry Learning, and I've put up some new models of inquiry and suggestions for developing good questions. Have a look at the 'recent wiki changes' widget on the right side of the wiki and click on the latest links to see the new stuff.
Professor John Hattie has stirred the pot with this post on Inquiry Learning. Click on the writing image below and read the whole post. Then challenge yourself about the questions he raises there.
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cheers, Heather


  • New material about Guy Claxton's views on engaging children is on the Claxton page
  • Thanks Rowena and Tracy for the video and the work that went on behind the clip. It was great to see Rowena's excitement when she first showed me what her troops had been up to so getting Tracy to video this was very supportive.
  • Anna has found a really good reading about inquiry and this has now gone up on the Teacher Only Days 2013 page. Please make sure you read it before we meet next week on Tuesday as we will be bouncing off this during the day as we make sense of our model and the implications.
Have a great week.

Room 4 and Rowena have been asking I wonder questions from other experiments. Then they designed and made their own model to test their I wonder questions and gather answers. Watch this video, Tracy

Thanks everyone for allowing Ian and me to talk with your target students this week. The children were clearly happy to share their learning with us and it was great to talk with you all afterwards to share what you have been doing. It was really valuable and has challenged me to address the needs that emerged. What I noticed was that you are using really engaging activities to motivate children (especially the target boys), and exploring the David Hyerle thinking maps to get children to identify what they know, to explore questions and to demonstrate their learning. Great! I also saw a lot of you using Sonia's 'I see, I think, I wonder' strategy too. Great questions coming from that strategy.

To create your own Napier Central School version of the inquiry model, Tracy will be working with you at an upcoming staff meeting to develop labels for the inquiry stages you are exploring now. This will give you a common language to use with your children across the school. It is important that the children will easily understand whatever labels you come up with, so before you commit to the labels, test them out with your class first and gauge their understanding.

Many of you said that your biggest stumbling block was being able to ask god questions. I have started a page on the wiki called Asking questions and will be putting material up there as I find it. I hope this is useful, but we will cover this at the TOD in June too.

This really lovely video came through the Twitter community last week so I just had to share it with you. Nothing to do with Inquiry, but it might be good to show your younger students.


Upcoming visits

I will be in the school wednesday and thursday afternoons this week to chat with you and your focus boys. I will also be taking classroom photos for our wiki so now is your chance to show off all the great things you've been up to to develop your understanding of inquiry learning.

It's all about the questions...

This video came up through Twitter recently and i think you will find the connections to the directions we are heading with our inquiry learning.

Ramsey Musallam: 3 rules to spark learning

"In a fun and personal talk, Musallam gives 3 rules to spark imagination and learning, and get students excited about how the world works."

Thanks Sonia for sharing the I see, I think, I wonder in creating big Ideas. Could see how we could base of units with this.
Attached is the notes and a few pictures. Tracy
bird.jpg big ideas.jpg


I was shown a great strategy/activity for a way for children to generate their own inquiry questions at the Science Conference I went to. It is called 'I see, I think, I wonder.' It creates open questions that are linked to the subject but still allow for individual thought and input. It can be done with any age child too! If you are interested I can explain further.
Sonia has started a great thread on the discussion posts page that would be worth everyone contributing to. It's about Guy Claxton's concept of Building Learning Power, and she is asking for your thoughts and ideas. If you click on the double speech bubbles next to the edit button, you will get to the page where these threaded discussions are held. Threaded discussions are ones that are all about a common topic so are better put there than on this less formal 'chat' page, which is more appropriate for things like updates and questions, and is inclined to wander around rather than stay focused on one topic.
Well done Sonia for starting this conversation off.


Great, I'll ignore all the updates i'm getting for a while then :-)

Meantime, can you indicate your preference for some work on thinking maps in this quick poll please?
Yes a session on thinking maps would be great as some staff have started to use them and finding them very powerful! I am playing with the pages a bit so I can teach the staff how to add to them. TP
Thanks Tracy for the material you have put onto the thinking tools page. The video is delightfully corny, but shows how well embedded thinking maps are in this school, and how well the kids understand their application. There is a link on the David Hyerle page that takes you to more information about these if you want to explore them. If you thought it would be useful, we could have a session on these sometime soon to develop you're understanding of how they can be used to support learning. Or perhaps I could show you some of them when i come through your classes soon. Have a think and let me know.
You brainstormed a list of tools and strategies that could go with each of the aspects of inquiry earlier this year. Trish has typed all these up for you and the document is now on the Thinking Tools page. It would be a useful thing to have in front of you now that you have had a bit of a chance to develop your thinking. Perhaps an opportunity to add, delete or rethink.
Hope you all enjoyed the rain last night. Not enough, but a start, and there's a bit more calm in the air now.
I have updated the models of inquiry learning page everyone. I've added a few examples to support you as you decide on what your own school model will look like. Add these to the ones Anna gave you, and compare and contrast these to help identify the commonalities and differences.
Thanks for your input into last night's staff meeting everyone. Anna and I could really see how you've been giving things a go, and the reflection was obvious. Keep the sharing process going strongly, you are your own best resource. I really encourage you to show your stories on the board in the staffroom. Make everyone aware of what you've been trying out, make them ask questions, and make yourselves proud of what you're achieving. And remember, we also learn from things that don't work so well, so share these stories too.
We talked about a couple of thinking maps that would be useful to motivate or engage your students yesterday. If you want to find out more about thinking maps, Tracy has the resources for that tool.

Inquiry Models

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Anna found this Teacher's Guide to Implementing Inquiry-based Learning resource that came out of Alberta, Canada, so I have put a link up to this up for you. The model itself is one of the ones Anna gave you yesterday (front page from memory), but this book is the 'how to and why' stuff that sits behind it. Worth getting a copy and seeing where it fits in your thinking.

Making Learning Strategies Obvious in your Classroom

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A lot of discussion yesterday was about making the strategies obvious to your children.I mentioned Lane Clarke's Thinkbox and Thinktower, which are really just charts children can use to work out what strategy or tool they will use for a task. There is some stuff on her page that you might want to revisit now that you are more ready to explore this idea. I've put these up here again as after hearing the themes from the boys survey last night, I think people are considering how they can make their strategies more obvious to your children.
The Thinktower is made up into a box with each side being a different phase of the inquiry. She uses the words explore, record/internalise/report, organise, judge, and invent to label her stages of inquiry. Thinktower uses icons or pictures to represent strategies - useful for younger children. Perhaps as you go through the year, you could build these up yourselves and make your own thinktowers.

ThinkBox is a wall chart with the same 5 stages but uses words instead of icons or pictures.
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There are a couple of great discussions happening on the discussion posts at the moment - an easy way to have a conversation. Sonia has asked about changing her lovely grey avatar image (I can't see what's wrong with that!), and talked about the TedX video below.

At the top right of this page there are a couple of speech bubbles next to the word Edit. Click on the bubbles and join the conversations. Love to hear other views.
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All the junior school interviews have been done - thanks so much for letting me interrupt your programme to talk to these boys. The seniors are inputting their answers (with a bit of help:) via the computer so by the end of the week we should have a fair bit of material to work with. Anna and I will look through the data and see if we can identify the key messages. We will share these at our next meeting on the Monday 11th March.
I hear that you have been trying out a few tools and strategies from the ones we used at the TODs and those on the wiki. I saw some wonderful pictures on the wall in the staffroom that show how successful these have been. Great to see that Ewan McIntosh's model has also been helpful. He will be pleased to hear that. Rowena tells me she's used it several times already, and I know several others have too. Bring along stories to share about what you did, what happened, what you would do differently and why when we meet on the 11th. Looking forward to hearing those :)

Yes I agree Tracy. He made me sit up when he talked about what happened when a teacher had asked children to go out and find a problem to solve. One child said "Sir, you're the teacher, we're the students'. It's your job to give us the problem"! That was in 1980's. Are we still following that thinking? Are our parents thinking like that? The idea of contextualising learning in reality is not new, but I wonder how good we really are at doing this. How strong are our connections with the real world, as these are central to this approach? Great Tracy. Any other thoughts from the team?
Problem finders vs problem solvers very interesting. Children learning to create the learning is where we are heading and the stories from Sunderland (?) and how he set that up would be interesting to read about. Kids talking about common challenges is the point i am mulling over - how to do this? Tracy

Thanks Jane. Yes, I will come in and chat with the boys in the junior and middle syndicates but will probably leave the yr 4-6 boys to have a play with this online - with some guidance.

I heard some great stories yesterday about how some of you have used the Ewan McIntosh dilemma approach in your classrooms. it would be really interesting to hear how this went from you directly. I also heard how you have been playing with some of the strategies that people like Kath and Pam use in your rooms. These would be fantastic stories to share on the wiki, along with some photos of what's been happening. If you're keen to share or show off but are not sure how to, talk to Tracy and demand attention :)

Anyone watched the video yet? Any thoughts?

Great work team.

The dates for Heather coming into your classes to survey students have been confirmed. She will be here on the 25th and 27th February. More details of how this will happen will be given to you at team meetings.
‍Hi everyone. I'm about to come into the junior classrooms and survey your students. The dates are to be confirmed but it will be soon.
Here is a short (6mins) TEDx video that you should appreciate. While listening, try to connect what Ewan is saying with your own thinking about Inquiry learning. He talks about problem finding rather than problem solving, which ties in really well with the Dilemma Dance we did on day two of our recent PLD. How much of the inquiry process is being held by you, and how much is being given over to your children? A good topic for conversation perhaps.


The print version of our Ewan McIntosh chart has been put up on his page, along with the labels and pictures for you to use if you want to have a go at this yourselves.
Welcome Teresa, second newbie on board.
cheers, heather

And the chocolate fish goes to Liz - first one to sign up to the wiki (sorry Tracy, you don't count :)
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This page will be used to keep you up to date with upcoming events, any new resources that have gone up, and will also be a place to ask questions of each other. We are happy to put these up for you until you are confident so if you want to email these through, they will go up here if appropriate.
Great start this week everyone.
Cheers, Heather