These are my notes from the unconference time at Learning@School 09

Different models are suggested for inquiry units. These are stages or steps for one model discussed by a teacher at our table:

  1. immersion (provocation, exploration phase, building relevance)
  2. questioning
  3. plan
  4. gather and sort
  5. create and share
  6. take action

At one school, they are doing two inquiry projects per year
Examples of take action for an inquiry project focused on “our community” (making our school a better place):
– for a primary class, it was to bring flowers into the school
– for a senior class, it was to improve the library
– another class painted the doors on the changing rooms of the gym

leads to engagement and ownership
– lots of context

ICT can be linked to these activities
– taking photographs of things around the school
– photographs of staff members

One teacher said her school had just gotten data projectors, so it had not been reasonable to use a mind mapping software like Inspiration

Sharing can be photocopying

Next topic in a classroom: What makes you a New Zealander? (Kiwiana)
– sharing was a concert the class gave for the school
– Sent an email home asking for email addresses of friends and family who are Kiwis and live abroad, asked them to email back the things they miss about or from New Zealand living away from the country, then shared those by reading them to the class, looking at the map for where those emails come from

Discussing using a “suite” for ICT (computer lab) when teacher must book the room and move the class there
– consensus was this is not very “natural” and teachers prefer a COW (computers on wheels) which can be right in the classroom

Teacher sharing her use of PhotoStory with primary-age children creating artwork, working with a partner
– 6 year olds
– parent who had been helping was insisting on the children getting everything PERFECT
– the teacher actually sent the teacher away
– lots of discussion about how important it is that student-created and published work is AUTHENTIC and is not so “doctored” by adults that it doesn’t represent the true voice of the child

Discussing value of audio recording
– some of kids, particularly younger boys, who have more trouble drawing and adding them

Can drop audio into Kidpix

Many kids come to school and still want to play
– there are curriculum elements which involve learning through play that

Kids are so curious and it is so important to not turn them off with the curriculum and mandated tasks

Plasticene is a commercial material similar to play dough
– can be used for sculptures and stopmotion movie making
– I told some background of the fine arts camp class I taught last summer for primary kids on stopmotion
– If I was to do that again, I think I would share some picture books and give the kids choices about the story which they wanted to create / illustrate

Discussing handwriting and keyboarding
– suggestion of using a piece of yarn down the middle of the keyboard to help focus on

Teacher who is taking photographs throughout the day to document what kinds of learning was taking place
– providing those photos to parents, gives parents something to talk about with their children
– I mentioned some schools who are asking older children to help with this kind of process: taking photos, publishing them to the web, sharing the link with the teacher to put on his/her class website
– I think anything we can do to help catalyze conversations with children and parents about the learning and activities which have happened at school are vital
– teacher who shared that many parents have negative feelings about

Teacher who has two blogs at school
1 for independent writing (completely independent, teacher has had absolutely nothing to do with the editing – this is a new blog that has not had additions yet this year – here is their writing blog from last year)
another class blog: try to share photos of artwork, class activities

Laptops on a COW
– some kids are not allowed to take them out of the COW (cart) at all
– other kids are taught how to take them out, open them up, login with their class userid and password
– kids being able to plug into the Internet
– lots of kids want to print
– the instant feedback of printing is very exciting for them

Expert that came to school, teacher wanted to be able to publish books with the children
– he spent hours trying to do it and couldn’t
– was very frustrating for the teacher
– this was several years ago

I think book publishing and sharing

– possibility of putting a class blog into Wordle and then using that as a way to see what kids are writing about

Childrens’ personalities can really come through via their handwriting
– story of coming across a recipe written in her mother’s handwriting

PD on finding karaoke and YouTube, like MamaMia “Dancing Queen”

also have Nursery rhymes with karaoke on YouTube

Great for reading and dancing!

Discussing administrative support for PD and ICT
– so important to keep feeding information / sharing information back with your board members

Websites for primary resources:
BBCkids Canada
Skrbl –
– Webnote – (online tool for taking notes)
– Rachel Boyd has great list of resources
Tumble Books – eBooks for kids
– Netvibes
Sparklebox – visual time tables for the wall (free after registration)
Poisson Rouge – Red Fish Soup – Games for Children (English and French)

One school that is using a delicious account for all teachers, sharing links and resources

Class blog:

Great story of older children at school pairing with younger ones, taking them to a place at school and sharing a game they like to play, taking several photos of it, then the kids together create a visual story with text telling the story of that game

Good idea for CORE-NZ: Help facilitate teachers sharing “wish lists” of equipment that would be good for their student age levels and content areas

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, subscribe to Wes' free newsletter. Check out Wes' video tutorial library, "Playing with Media." Information about more ways to learn with Dr. Wesley Fryer are available on

On this day..

Share →

2 Responses to Discussing the importance of good questions and inquiry with Kiwi primary teachers, YouTube karaoke

  1. […] a slight side track, Wes Fryer’s recent trip to New Zealand and his willingness to share his thinking as he participated in the Learning@School conference confirms what I sort of suspect in terms of a […]

  2. […] I was in New Zealand at the end of February, I was delighted to learn (via an “unconference” discussion session) about teachers who are maintaining two different blogs for their classes with this exact dichotomy […]

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Sharing from Matthews, North Carolina! Connect with Wes on Mastodon.