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Greater South Canterbury Cluster Inquiry Initiative



Background & Context

Greater South Canterbury Cluster, Geraldine Primary Lead School Inquiry Learning.

Geraldine Primary School

Years 1-6


Aims & Purposes

National Goal 1 To become successful digital citizens.

National Goal 3 Teachers to integrate e-learning effectively into their practice creating an innovative and exciting learning environment for all students.


Success Indicator Classroom e-learning decisions are routinely student-led and based on co-constructed inquiry into student’s needs.




Inquiry Learning integration throughout our school and to support cluster schools where needed.


We have spent the first 2 years predominantly upskilling the staff and children on computer   skills while attempting to use some inquiry models. The next natural step was to build on those skills but to focus mainly on the use of Inquiry as a tool for learning and develop a model that best suits us.



The original plan was form a committee with representatives from interested schools to work together. Targets were to plan the seminar workshop and subsequent others while developing a model for the cluster.

This proved to be more difficult than we imagined. While time was provided for relievers for the interested teachers, getting the people together was not successful. After 3 attempts at meetings and numerous unanswered emails, it was decided to concentrate on our school but share our findings. So another staff member from Geraldine Primary was brought on board to help develop a plan.


What We Found

We started looking at a variety of schools and the Inquiry Models they used. What we wanted to find was something that was user friendly and simple to follow but had the guts of what we needed. 

A great many of the ones we researched were large, wordy and off putting.

We wanted to develop an Inquiry Plan for the seminar that could be completed in 45 minutes. The reasoning behind this was that was the length of each session on cluster workshop day and we wanted people to successfully experience the process and see what could be achieved. We have discovered in our reading and investigations that it is difficult to put a time limit on inquiry.  Once the Big Question/Big Idea is posed, it depends on how stimulated and interested the children are, as in reality if an Inquiry is working correctly, then they are driving the process. 


Bronwyn Waldron and myself developed an Inquiry process for the seminar day. We had discovered in discussions with teachers that they point of difficulty was “getting started”

To keep things simple we had decided on a 3 stage process.

Stage 1. Building on Existing Knowledge (teacher directed) (involved big question)


Stage 2. Creating New Knowledge (developing questions, gathering knowledge, sorting info.....presentation.


Stage 3. Take Further Action (reflections & recommendations)


We used the staff at Geraldine Primary as our guinea pigs and ran a staff meeting where we trialled what we planned for the Seminar day. We decide not to change anything for the seminar day.


The feedback from this day was positive with many people realising that an Inquiry process was manageable and not something to be feared.


A follow up workshop was held at Geraldine Primary School on Aug 16th for any interested teachers.

Areas looked at were: models used, planning and assessment tools as well as general sharing of ideas.

Four schools sent representatives and the general consensus was that we all got something out of it and that discussions of this sort should happen more often. The sharing of ideas was worthwhile and collegial support was developed. 


Attended James Nottingham Course Challenging Learning 14 May 2012 (Notes from that day are on the Inquiry Pages linked from the pages) 



Interface Expo Dunedin 15 May 2012

At GPS we are developing more consistency in our Inquiry Planning across the syndicates.

Staff are positive about the Inquiry Process but confidence to implement is an area of development.


Next Steps


At Geraldine Primary School our next steps for our staff are that we have organised a day for each of our 3 syndicates in Term 4 to work together on ICT with a component of the day on Inquiry.

Finalise Inquiry Model for Geraldine Primary School in conjunction with organised syndicate planning days.

Visits to St Clair and Port Chalmers Schools still to be organised as postponed last term

A visit to the digital classroom at Bluestone also on the cards.


1 further workshop to be organised. Ideas being discussed Pam Hook but maybe better cluster wide for 2013, or invite cluster teachers to GPS syndicate days or open invitation again for discussions that suit “Hints for Inquiry”




SOLO Taxonomy: A Guide for Schools Bk 1 Pam Hook

SOLO Taxonomy: A Guide for Schools Bk 2 Pam Hook

Challenging Learning James Nottingham

Encouraging Learning James Nottingham