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E-learning, Inquiry, Collaboration and the Nature of Science

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By Kate Dare

This term our Senior Team have been focusing on integrating ICTs and the 'Nature of Science' effectively into our science teaching and the inquiry process.

With this inquiry we are really wanted to embed the inquiry process so that children could explain what happens at each stage, as well as explaining the purpose of the activities they are doing with regards to the inquiry process. Additionally we focused our teaching and learning on the nature of science/working like a scientist, as well building knowledge of science.  I also personally wanted to develop the use of ICT in my class for collaboration.

During 'Tuning In' I focused on developing children's ability to make careful observations, theorise and wonder from those observations and to be able to construct and critique questions like a scientist.

During this process children used voicethread to 'See, Think and Wonder'. The process of this was really slowed down so that the 'thinking' and 'wondering' related to what they were 'seeing'. The use of voicethread as a collaborative tool allowed the class to collect these together and listen to others' ideas (http://room3stjames2012.blogspot.co.nz/2012/08/we-are-tuning-in-to-our-new-inquiry.html). We then took all the wonderings on the voicethread and used the following criteria to decide whether our questions were worth inquiring about:

WALT create open questions to guide our inquiry.

SUCCESS CRITERIA: My questions need to…

  • Begin with Who, What, When, Where, Why, or How, and follow with a verb like: would, could, were, might, can, do, is, are, did, was. For example: Who were…?  How do…?  When could…?
  • Lead me to information that I do not already know.
  • Help me to find new and interesting information that is connected to my topic AND will develop my deep understandings.

We were then left with three questions. The class then took the closed questions that we had discarded and reconstructed them into open questions, we then went through a further critiquing until we were left with some suitable and worthy questions to inquire about. To support this second round of constructing and critiquing, the children used a Google doc to do this. This allowed them to collaborate to construct and critque question and it meant all our questions ended up in one document. We could then discard any repeats and select the questions we wanted. (https://docs.google.com/a/stjamescatholic.school.nz/document/d/1joYyBRTMchz3sK6uDj1OR92G3tH8-2AiiY9PLoJt3rk/edit?pli=1 - The yellow questions are the ones we decided to keep and the red questions are the ones we decided to discard.)

The level of collaboration between the children during 'Tuning In' could not have occured without the integration of e-learning. Children now have a good understanding of the 'Tuning In' process, as well as how scientists work to make careful observations and construct and critque questions. The use of ICT for collaboration also allowed the construction of inquiry questions to be more student driven than in previous inquiries.