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Learning Together (teaching as inquiry group)

Title: Learning Together (teaching as inquiry group)
Cluster Year level: Three
Cluster type: Regional

The Context: Using teaching as inquiry as a way for ConnectED to build distributed capacity.
Supporting each other's inquiry as a way to build the ConnectED community and  to value each other.

National Goal 3: Strengthen professional learning communities and increase collaboration across  the regional cluster schools.

ConnectED Goal 3: Interest groups who have not met previously developing networks and increasing capacity across the schools

Success Criteria: Evidence will show that we have:

  • Inquired into practise and acted with the intention of improving student learning.

  • Provided examples of developments for their learners.

  • Worked as a group, learnt from each other, shared useful ideas, reflected on mistakes as learning opportunities, and offered encouragement to stay on track.

Reflection model used

We used two main reflective methods

Refer: Ladder of Feedback http://www.ronritchhart.com/COT_Resources_files/ladder%20of%20feedback_RRrevision.pdf

The Focus:
Engaging with teaching inquiries as a group to improve outcomes of individual inquiries and to create distributed capacity for contribution to the wider  community.


What was important for us?
That the group was self sustaining and determining using our own community resources for facilitation, organisation and sharing.
To look at, learn about, engage in and share teaching inquiries. 

There was a purposeful effort to recognise the professionalism of the participants and allow them an opportunity for individual research.
The sustainability of an interest group such as this is in the intrinsic value of sharing. We tried to ensure that participants were supported using some of the choice ideas from William Glasser as a base.

Seven Caring Habits
1. Supporting
2. Encouraging
3. Listening
4. Accepting
5. Trusting
6. Respecting
7. Negotiating differences


What did we do?

We structured a programme into two core parts with some optional 

Process Facilitation
Introduction to inquiry Face to face
Coffee catch up 2 or 3  
Breakfast opportunities (optional)
Face to face (group)
School visit (optional) Face to face from group of Mentors
Google hangout skype (optional) Online
Reflection Day
½ day preparation
Face to face

The programme for the first introduction to inquiry day is here.

The Purpose

  • Introduce and clarify ‘Teaching as Inquiry’
  • To design an inquiry with the support of others including a: draft plan, key question, useful first step forward. 

Inquiries were encouraged to focus on:

  • Student Achievement
  • Student Engagement
  • Teacher Practice
  • Waikato collaboration and understanding

Tanya Thomson one of the Governance School Principals has worked with action research projects and teacher inquiry.
Tanya provided the introduction to inquiry for the group of participants

Her  presentation was in some ways a reflection of a school's learning through inquiry into practice.
A video of her presentation/reflection is here. 

The Optional elements


The importance for the participants at these sessions was to work on the Seven Caring Habits from William Glasser in order
to motivate and encourage sharing of ideas and outcomes. The outcome gave participants ideas to get past any road blocks to inquiry, information
gathering etc. Through listening to each other there were clear adjustments to many elements of the individual inquiries.

Google hang out
The Google hang out and coffee morning were attended by small groups.This worked well in terms of inspiring people past sticking points because people had ideas about flipped classroom for example they were able to help a teacher looking to implement this. This happened during people's evenings so the ability to wear a funny hat was appreciate and did add a layer of enjoyment to the process. The Screen chare feature was not seen a s larg enough to be of significan benefit to the group.

Coffee Morning 
This was a sharing opportunity for people to check progress. One of the benefits from this seemed to be the element of encouragement given to each other in what was a time where the  inquiry needed sustaining. One school 


Reflection day  

We gave people time in the morning to gather information , conduct interviews,  refine thinking etc. 

The basis of the afternoon was to share what  we had found out in a high trust environment. Participants wer not asked to prepare a slideshow presentation though one teacher looking at the flipped classroom did this as her own initiative.


The focus is on establishing purpose and process for inquiries as much as the inquiries themselves; however anecdotal summaries of the individual inquiries were...

Student voice to improve results in NCEA Classics

  • Led to use of physical activities such as discus to support conversation about sculpture 
  • Student led presentations and teaching roles increased attendance
  • Previously disinterested students have moved to the front of the classroom 
  • This inquiry is ongoing
Organisation of Professional Learning
  • Two secondary schools involved in this 
  • Focus on teaching and learning behaviours not to be discussed had an impact in one school
  • Teachers to work in cross departmental groupings to share their learning programmes and outcomes
  • Referring to blended learning rather than elearning or ICT (perhap sticking to calling it learning would provide even more focus) 
Using Computer Science as a support for Geometry
  • Students saw practical application of undersatanding they had previously not experienced.
  • There was a different approach taken by girls and boys to the challenges.
  • Algorithms, teaching scratch helped us to understand patterns and variables.
  • The repeats are like brackets, you can use the to repeat to multiply particular amount of times.
  • An exmple of achievement is below click on the picture and press the spacebar when the page loads to start the script.

Scratch Project

We gave people about 30 minutes to create a picture map of their inquiry. This idea was taken from an Ontario teaching as inquiry group 
it removes some of the focus on presentation and reinforces the idea that it is the outcome the really matters.

The first picture below  is a reference from Rochelle Jensen who used the same method with an inquiry.
The second is from one of our inquiries



Student Feedback 

On flipped Classroom inquiry - looking at current practise













On being provided with revision videos



Teacher Feedback

What are our next steps?


The success/strength of this group is in the relationship to real learners and real learning.
We will be including a teaching as inquiry table at the open meeting to let others see how it works and what are the outcomes. 
The importance for ConnectED is the relationship between Teaching as inquiry and a shared approach to improving student learning and teaching practise. 



References and Resources




External Links