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Trevor Bond's discussion posts

  • Trevor Bond 11 Feb 2015 2:58pm () in Issues around getting student inquiry embedded in school

    This thing called 'inquiry' sounds great in theory. 

    I have a sneaky suspicion that getting it embedded into classroom practice has its issues and difficulties.

    Let's share, talk and maybe we can help each other!


  • Trevor Bond 25 Jul 2012 9:30am () in What does Māori enjoying educational success as Māori mean to you?

    This issue has been on my mind a lot over the last few weeks as I head into three days of sessions on this topic with schools in the Gisborne area next week. 

    I think I can best illustrate my current understanding from my time in a small international school in Nepal. I had a class of 15 students composed of 13 nationalities. Each of those students was expected to achieve highly and were all going to go back into their home countries and cultures for their high school education.

    The German student needed to succeed in my classroom but needed to do so as a German, as did the Swiss, American, Australian, Taiwanese, Singaporean, British, French, and the 5 other nationalities.

    So let's take the German child as an example:

    Their tenure in my class should not diminish them in terms of their Germanness (if there is such a word). In fact the very opposite, their tenure in this kiwi teacher's class needed to value, affirm and and deepen their Germanness. This is what should have been happening for each child in the room.

    Alongside that, for each child,  there should be a growth of understanding and empathy of  the other cultures and groups represented within that classroom.

    Strategies to do this:

    1: relationship relationship relationship

    2: Actively valuing and seeking to understand where people where coming from and why

    3: Having the concept in my head that each child brought with them a treasure of culture, experiences and understanding, an incredible resource that would enrich that classroom as a place of learning and interaction


    Enough rambling from me, I look forward to reading other responses as I continue prpearing for next weeks sessions.

  • Trevor Bond 04 Apr 2012 9:29pm () in Inquiry Learning: Hassles, Problems and Issues.

    Kia ora Moana,

    Please feel free to join in, the discussion is public!

    the simplest way to explain it is perhaps to give a small example.

    Let's say we have two schools each taking one of the two approaches and both schools are running a Science centered inquiry unit around 'Mini Beasts' looking at classifications, habitat and adaptation to live in specific habitats. Let us say, for argument sake, that both schools have a similar inquiry model that poses a problem or task that students then have to complete using the knowledge and understanding gained from their inquiry. At both students are exposed to basiocally the same material.

    School A (content based approach) at the end of the unit will carry out assessment that aims to evaluate the understanding of the concepts of classification, adaptation and habitat. They will gather and record data on the shifts in understanding. They will use this data to support reporting to parents against improved understanding of the concepts and will then utilise this data in terms of their review of the effectiveness of their programmes.

    School B (skill and attitude based approach) on the other hand will gather evidence and data on the shifts in the learning skills and attitudes that they have identified as their core focus. They will use this data to support reporting to parents against those dentified skills and attitudes, and will then utilise this data in terms of their review of the effectiveness of their programmes.


    I hope this has not just added to the confusion.



  • Trevor Bond 04 Apr 2012 9:07pm () in Inquiry Learning: Hassles, Problems and Issues.

    Hi Pete, you raise some very valid points. 

    This approach is not an excuse to provide poor learning experiences within the subject areas like Science, The Arts, Technology, Social Science etc. In the schools I have workied with, we have developed sets of Key Understandings for each of these areas, ensuring that (as stated in the NZ Curriculum) "each strand gets due attention over time". Teachers are expected to use the inquiry based approach to expose the students richly and deeply to the key understandings. Exposure to the key understandings is monitored, over whatever time frme the school sets, to ensure that students have been exposed to the full set of key understandings. Many teachers also do some form of formative assessment to ensure that there is a shift in understanding. 

    You also said "If you are using inquiry as a model to teach, you still have to prove that it was effective as a way to teach.  If we can't do that, how can we be sure that it is? "  I think this is also a key statement. If a school is implementing an inquiry based approach as a method to deliver curriculum then your measure of success will be around curriculum learning and your key assessment should be targeted in that direction. If the school has implemented an inquiry based approach as a means of moving students towards being more capable and effective learners then surely your key assessment should be aimed at identifying progress in the development of the skills and attitudes that the school has identified as being important for a learner. I have concerns about schools that state that they have implemented inquiry as a method to improve students' learning skills, and then do nothing to assess and evaluate if the approach is delivering their claimed underlying goals.  You raise some very important issues that I believe schools should discuss and have clear documentation around within their school curriculum statements.

    What are other schools doing around this?



  • Trevor Bond 03 Apr 2012 4:05pm () in Inquiry Learning: Hassles, Problems and Issues.

    Hi Michael,

    assessment of inquiry has been a perplexing issue for many schools.

    There are two general approaches that I see in place.

    Firstly an approach where schools aim to assess content learned through the inquiry. 

    Secondly an approach that targets assessment towards the key skills the schools want the students to develop through inquiry. 

    The second approach is the one that I have done the most work with schools on, and we generally tie it back to the competencies. This requires the school to have clearly stated goals, specific skills identified and then a means to assess those skills and track them over time.

    I could share more on this approach if you are interested, perhaps thare are also other ideas out there that group members could also share.



  • Trevor Bond 02 Sep 2011 8:36pm () in Inquiry Learning: Hassles, Problems and Issues.

    I have done some work with a number of highschools, particularly targetting year 9 and 10 students, where we have introduced an inquiry based approach. It is initially teacher directed and adapts existing NCEA units. The models we have used vary slightly but generally there is a strong focus on the setting of a problem, (teacher) and with students working through a process that includes the following broad steps:

     identifying relevant prior knowledge,

    identifying relevant contextual vocabulary,

    identifying information needs,

    establishing research questions,

    finding the answers,

    applying and using the information to solve the problem,

    sharing the outcomes, decisions and justifications

    evaluating the process and learning.


    It has been a very succesful approach, but teachers do need professional support as they go into it.

    I hope this helps. You can contact me on tbond@clear.net.nz if you want to discuss this further.

  • Trevor Bond 10 Jun 2011 9:51am () in Inquiry Learning: Hassles, Problems and Issues.

    Thanks Anne, Donald's structure is not that dissimiliar to what I often suggest schools implement.

    Teacher Directed: Start with highly engaging teacher directed tasks, which contain choice options.

    Negotiated: There are two types of negotiated tasks involved here. The first is where students have become highly engaged with the teacher set task but have a particular line or aspect they want to pursue. The expectation is that there would then be a negotiated deviation from the teacher's original intent and a task variation is negotiated and implemented. The second is where a student, or group of students, negotiate a task with teacher right from the start.

    There is the third level of student's independently carrying out their own learning. However this tends to be learning that they do outside of the school environment and school hours. I think that, in reality, there will always be a level of negotiation involved in any school based activity. The powerful and exciting outcome though is when we see students applying the skills and strategies they have acquired into their own learning outside the school gate.

  • Trevor Bond 09 Jun 2011 9:22am () in Inquiry Learning: Hassles, Problems and Issues.

    Let's get real, this thing called 'inquiry learning' is full of challenging issues. here is a place to put those issues out into the open and for people to share their thoughts, ideas, suggestions and solutions.

    What are the issues and challenges you have faced or are facing?

    What solutions have you tried, and how did it go?

    what ideas and thoughts can you offer those who are facing challenges as they implement inquiry in their classrooms?

  • Trevor Bond 09 Jun 2011 3:35pm () in Inquiry Learning: Hassles, Problems and Issues.

    That’s an awesome first post Anne! Thanks for starting this with something meaty.

    It is wonderful to see this approach being used at secondary level and to hear the attestation that it is having a positive benefit in terms of NCEA results.

    I totally agree with you in terms of collaborative inquiry, I think that knowledge is formed in the space between the ears but understanding is formed in the space between people, and as a result have long been strong on promoting collaborative inquiry.

    Could you outline in a bit more detail your 'Self-directed Inquiry Time' and 'Teacher-directed Time'?

  • Trevor Bond 09 Jun 2011 7:26pm () in Inquiry Learning: Hassles, Problems and Issues.

    I look forward to reading other responses to this question, here are two starter ideas:

    1: Have a "wondering wall" where the difficult, the unanswerable, the irrelevant questions go. These are the questiions that students can pursue in their own time.

    2: Perhaps even create a display section called unanswerable questions. Have your students create their own criteria for what an unanswerable question may be, and then as these difficult questions arise they can be defused somewhat by having a discussion around our criteria as to the answerability of the questions and then classified and added to the list.