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Improving Questioning and Thinking at Hinuera School

Hinuera is an eight classroom rural school situated on SH29, 7 km from Matamata. We cater for Year 1-6 students drawn from the local district and the Matamata Township. Our tradition of providing quality education for students is being continued under our current vision statement of “Learning and Growing”.

Focus:
To promote and monitor the use of ICT’s and thinkers tools by all learners and growers and improve the teaching skills in the areas of “questioning” and “thinking” as a vital part of the inquiry and learning process.

Rationale:
Children need to know how to ask effective and appropriate questions to guide their learning and develop their ability to “Learn to Learn”. On reflection in 2010 we identified the need to monitor the use of ICT’s so they don’t become fads that are forgotten about or used incorrectly. We were expecting the children to be able to use the class thinking toolbox to aid the ways they think. Individual student and class wide work should show evidence of this. 

“A sense of wonder and curiosity is vital to building a community of spontaneous and creative thinkers.We need thinkers that are confident communicators, who are risk takers and have become global rather than local in their thinking. When leading their own learning these thinkers let the 'So What' (their desire, their interest) drive the need for learning.”
(http://thinkerstoolbox.wikispaces.com/) Paula Jamison.

What did we do?
Questioning
1. Training with Judi Buckley – Cluster facilitator – 8.2.11 & 5.4.11
2. Teaching sessions re effective questioning.
3. Use of Hinuera Learning Pathway (using Enviroschools model –Action Learning Cycle) develops. 
4. Increased use of thinking toolbox in classroom teaching and the addition of new tools, particularly the Thinker’s Keys.
5. Learning at Schools – thinkers toolbox breakouts.
6. Staff meeting to introduce thinkers toolbox ideas to staff 8.3.11.
7. Monday afternoon meetings with staff sharing new tools/ideas.
Thinking
1. Training with Judi Buckley – Cluster facilitator - 10.5.11 and 28.6.11.
2. Teaching sessions re effective thinking.
3. Use of Action Learning Cycle develops. 
4. Term 3 introduction of “Brick Wall” an adaption of the ALC.

What Happened? Results? 
Questioning
Children were able to ask more complex and open questions. Their work shows examples of this. 
All Hinni People (Hinuera School students, staff and community) use appropriate ICT’s and thinkers tools effectively.
Judi Buckley’s – Cluster facilitator - training on questioning 8.2.11 gave everyone a start.
Very good breakout session with Paula Jamison – website used.
Staff meeting 8.3.11 most inspired to start adding to toolbox – wish list of extra things talked about. Junior students were able to tell the difference between statements and questions but also were able to know if a question was open or closed. Senior students developed effective questions in order to retrieve relevant information. The big changes we saw were in students persisting in their search for the answers and also their ability to edit their questions as necessary.
Thinking
Children were able to use more appropriate thinking tools (including graphic organisers) to aide their learning. The Action Learning Cycle relates to all learning areas and children are able to say where they are and what they need to do to move on e.g. what their next step is. Students are now able to scaffold their thinking using the ALC. They have a better understanding of the thinking required of them and it is this good thinking that is leading to a deeper understanding. To quote the NZC: (students are becoming) "competent thinkers and problems-solvers actively seeking, using, and creating knowledge. They reflect on their own learning, drawing on personal knowledge and intuitions, asking questions, and challenging the basis of assumptions and perceptions."
Video Evidence


What did we learn?
We are continuing to learn all the time. The biggest thing we have learnt is that we have to continue to be learning and growing and this takes time. Also questioning and thinking needs to be clearly modelled and planned for. It is not a one step process and we are continuing to 'tweek' how we see questioning and thinking at Hinuera.
We are seeing the widening gap in education with those who continue to learn and grow and those who don’t.

Next Steps!
We will be looking into the finalised e-learning framework and deciding where to go from there. In the meantime our reflection on each of the Action Plan goals gives us a direction.