Making authentic inquiry work! Day two

The last day of this workshop focused on the different methods and frameworks used to support, implement and connect inquiry to learning. Connections to assessment were also examined and many great discussions arose from this topic. Assessment was discussed as learning, of learning and for learning. Assessment as learning was described when students reflect upon their learning and the setting of goals based on self reflection. Assessment of learning refers to the meeting of curricular goals based on students accomplishments. Assessment for learning was occurs when Educators use observations from student progress to support their teaching. These topics were explored using the following  resources :

Natural Curiosity                             Connecting the Dots

When using the Connecting the Dots resources my favourite strategy was the Integrated learning concept map. This strategy allows for easy implementation of cross curricular connections, inquiry and project based learning. As a pre-service teacher this concept map is very helpful in laying the ground work for an inquiry approach. The concept map easily demonstrates the curricular connections, various assessment tools and student engagement. Key aspects which parents, administrators and other teachers have a keen interest in understanding how they are met through inquiry.

These are some pictures I took during free play in my grade one classroom. As the pictures progress notice how the play also changes and becomes more specific. I used these observations with the lens of assessment for learning. I have started a concept map based on these observations.

Click to view slideshow.

As the slides progress you will notice how the play changes and become more elaborate as the interest and wonders of the children change. I supported the interest of building by adding loose parts to the tree blocks for children to use. As the class began to observe and learn about seasonal changes the felt and plastic leaves were added.  As the slides continue you will notice the animals and seasonal materials change.

‘ Set up play situations that have some focus to them, where you as the teacher can just observe, listen, and throw in really casual questions in really casual ways so its not always perceived as ‘I’m assessing you’   (Natural Curiosity, 2011)

– Julie Comay, JK teacher


An inspiring weekend in a beautiful setting with a wonderful colleague Mrs.Dalman! If you ever have the opportunity to attend Making authentic inquiry work, go!



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Making authentic inquiry work! A weekend journey… Day 1

What started out as a weekend workshop presented by Natural Curiosity  and learning for a sustainable future turned out to be a much needed guiding light. Through all of the investigating, reading and observations Christine Dalman and I have done , information overload was starting to set in.  This two day workshop had no set in stone agenda and was guided by three amazing facilitators who ran the two day event based on the questions and needs of the group. The first day was spent brainstorming individual and collectively on what we though inquiry was, ways to implement it and the challenges Educators face with all aspects of inquiry. We also participated in a Knowledge building circle to enhance our brainstorming sessions. Below are some pictures of the questions and answers we developed as a group of 40 people through mind maps and further elaborations on chart paper.


This knowledge building circle took many different paths but always ended back at two key concepts. How do we best support learners to flourish and reach their potential? What supports are in place for Educators when implementing inquiry methods? One of my favourite parts of this KBC apart from the variety of ideas and view points was the etiquette of participating in a KBC.  Instead of raising your hand to add to the conversation you put your hand into the circle. You only indicated that you had something to add to the conversation once the last person had finished speaking. Once the previous speaker called on the next participant the conversation would always continue with ‘ Building on your comments’ or ‘I connected to what you were saying…’ These techniques were incredibly helpful in keeping participants on track, respectful to other people’s thoughts and actually listening to what other people had to say.  While this method worked well with adults, could it be done with young students?


While I have yet to try a Knowledge building circle with my grade one class it is definitely on my list. Until then have a look at this video to see a KBC in action!