Tag Archives: Inquiry

If The World Were 100 People …

Video- Good Magazine

What an amazing video showing what the world statistics would be if you shrunk the world to 100 people. So what percentage speak English? Great to use in a classroom when exploring data or percentage.

Cheers Nina

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IB-PYP: Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. Benjamin Franklin – Inquiry is an approach to learning not a method.

Inquiry as a pedagogical approach is not a method of doing something. It is an approach to learning which is about posing questions. Inquiry starts with a question, wondering, problem or idea which engages learners into investigation, the creation of knowledge and testing of what they know.


Recently, a group of young learners ( 7 & 8 year old students)  asked me if they could spend time on their personal inquiry. Naturally I was excited that this group were personally motivated and wanted time dedicated. I decided to watch their progress and photograph their work. I also made a conscious decision to sit back and evaluate their use, and my teaching of the school’s Inquiry Process.

This group of young learners surprised me by their understanding of the process. They set about planning, focussing and preparing their inquiry. They were developing a central idea and had created a list of wonderings.  They wrote what they called a big wonder (How do wars start?) and had a number of key questions, some which they said they will park in the Parking Lot. The Parking Lot is a place where questions and wonderings are placed that are not part of the focus but may be answered later or as part of their learning.


They discussed their questions individually and chose the big questions they wanted to investigate. Then they talked about how they would find information (Finding Information). I was impressed by their confidence and ability to talk about each part of the process.

This is where the learning process results in true Learner Agency- student choice, student responsibility for learning and actions, a meaningful curriculum and learning initiated by learners.

Cheers Nina

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IB-PYP: How the World Works – 6,7&8 year olds in an Australian Primary School

Our Inquiry into…

How the World Works

Central Idea: All living things go through a process of change.
Concepts: cycles, transformations, offspring
Communication Skills: speaking, reading, presenting
Self- Management Skills: organisation, safety
Thinking Skills: acquisition of knowledge, comprehension
Social Skills: co-operation
Attitudes: curiosity, enthusiasm
Learner Profile Attributes: knowledgeable, inquirers

As part of our inquiry into living things and change we visited the Melbourne Zoo for our provocation. The children looked at various animals, their external features and offspring. The conversations centred on unpacking the central idea and their writing displayed the connections they are making to the central idea and themselves.

The children were very curious about the external features of various animals. They selected a photo of an animal they had observed at the zoo and drew it, carefully making their picture as authentic as they could. Added to this was a writing activity where they wrote dot points about their animal using vocabulary they had learnt.

Zoo 077

Zoo 084

Zoo 088

Zoo 097

Zoo 100

Just beautiful!

Cheers Nina

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Not a Box by Antoinette Portis: IB-PYP Inquiry – How we express ourselves!

Central Idea
Imagination is a powerful tool for extending our ability to think, create and express ourselves.
Concepts: perspective, reflective
Related Concepts: creativity, interpretation, imagination
Communication Skills: reading, writing, viewing, speaking, listening, presenting ideas
Self-management: Adopting a variety of roles, cooperation, group decision making, accept responsibility
Learner Profile: reflection, risk taker

Not a Box

August 2013 007

‘A box is just a box . . . unless it’s not a box. From mountain to rocket ship, a small rabbit shows that a box will go as far as the imagination allows. Inspired by a memory of sitting in a box on her driveway with her sister, Antoinette Portis captures the thrill when pretend feels so real that it actually becomes real–when the imagination takes over and inside a cardboard box, a child is transported to a world where anything is possible.’

Purpose: To highlight that people view things differently and use their imagination in many ways
Book: Not a Box
In small groups children turn a box into something of their choice.
Reflection: Children share their designs with the class.
Question: Why do you think everyone’s is different?

My students enjoyed this simple story and were able to talk about how they imagined what their box would look like. They were totally engaged in creating their ‘not a box’. All groups presented their creations to the class. Young children need time to explore, collaborate and create.  Reflection: Plan opportunities for my young students to create and make.

August 2013 102

August 2013 122

Cheers Nina

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PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing / Inquiry: Examples of my student’s (5 & 6 Year Olds) collaborative writing & the teaching strategy that I promote!

The key is students working collaboratively, sharing their learning, prompting each other and using the skills and language generally used by teachers. Each student is engaged in the activity, with each student committed to contributing with the support of their peers if needed. Groups can be structured to support children or to extend groups of children. The teacher can run a teacher led group at the same time, which I do regularly. Each child is identified by a color, and all are given the opportunity to lead a group. Teaching leadership skills concurrently is essential. The children are given poster sized sheets to write on and textas.

I use Student Led Interactive Writing to assess and plan my weekly writing foci. It’s interesting to note that my student’s independent writing improves rapidly. I’m looking for the transfer of my teaching into my student’s independent and Interactive Writing. Modelled Writing and Shared Writing are also planned into a weekly program from week one. However, I keep coming back to this teaching strategy because I believe this strategy not only accelerates writing development, but also provides support for less confident young writers.

Interactive Writing is normally a small group; teacher led writing strategy. My desire is to make teaching and learning in my classroom ‘student led’, has ‘morphed’ this teaching strategy from teacher controlled to student controlled. My role is to watch for the transfer of learning, and listen to my student’s conversations which highlight their learning.

Interactive Writing is the strategy I use when we are writing about a shared experience. This week we went to our local beach to explore rock pools.

Inquiry: Sharing the Planet

Central Idea: Living things have needs in order to survive and grow.

Leaner Profile: Knowledgeable, Caring

Key Concepts: Form, Connection

Attitudes: Appreciation, Respect

In this inquiry we explore our local environment. As our school is a very short walk from the beach, we take the children to the beach to explore life in a coastal environment. Each year we organize Ben, known as Ben 10, from the Dolphin Research Institute Education Unit to lead our learning. Ben’s enthusiasm and knowledge is inspiring. He is a Prep hero! The Dolphin Research Institute Education Unit is supporting Inquiry Units across our school this term.


I’ve provided photos of my students Interactive Writing recount about our excursion. There are some great teaching points for the whole grade, and for individual students clearly identified. Because each child writes in their own color this makes identifying individual teaching points clear. I’ve also included a copy of the Writing Checklist (criteria) used by students to revisit and edit their writing. The checklist really guides the children through this process.

Cheers Nina


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Prep Report: An outline of Term 4 and brief review of Term 3- Where is our teaching and learning heading?

Program of Inquiry

Last term as part of our inquiry ‘Toy Story’, the children designed and made their own toys. To support this we taught the Primary Science Connection’s ‘On the Move’ unit. The children have learnt about how toys move and what makes them move. This was complimented buy two incursions focusing on toys- Sean from the CSIRO and Professor Bunsen.

We also looked at the socio-economic aspect of toys. At the beginning of our Inquiry, Captain A  from the Salvation Army visited the children and spoke about how she helps families and how toys can bring joy into the lives of children who have very little. It was a powerful talk and these very young children understood and showed great empathy.

To celebrate their success and to give our students the opportunity to share their understanding with others, the Preps held their own Toy Expo. Many parents and students came and asked questions or admired their designs and toys. Visitors were requested to bring a gold coin donation with the money collected being given to the Salvation Army. The children raised $ 214 which was fantastic.

Our Toy Drive was equally successful with boxes filled to capacity. On the last assembly for Term 3, the Prep children presented the collected toys and money to Captain A  from the Salvation Army.
Eight Prep students (from across all grades) spoke at assembly. During the term a total of thirteen Prep students presented information at assembly. This is an area the Prep Team is keen to develop. The local newspaper came and photographed the children with Captain A which was wonderful. The Preps have been supporting the Salvation Army for a number of years.

The central idea for our Inquiry this term is ‘Living things have certain requirements in order to grow and stay healthy’. The lines of inquiry which will define the scope of our inquiry into the central idea are:

  • Sorting living and non-living things
  • Characteristics of animals and plants
  • Needs of living things

Our program follows a series of lessons planned using the e5 planning sequence. The e5 program consists of lessons which are designed to Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate. The children will be exploring our local beach and school ground in order to discover the answers to the following questions.

What do we already know about living and non-living?

What is living and non-living?

What do living things need in order to survive?

The Dolphin Research Organisation will be conducting a series of lessons. B who worked with our students in 2008 is returning. His lessons will include developing the children’s’ understanding of the needs of living things taken in the classroom, followed by a ‘hands on’ exploration of the rock pools at our beach. Initial base-line data has been collected to enable the children’s understanding to be assessed during and at the end of the Inquiry.


This term we will continue to develop our student’s writing by incorporating strategies which scaffold composition i.e. the ability to plan, edit and strategies which enable the children to extend their ideas. Interactive Writing – teacher and student led, Shared Writing, Modelled and Guided writing are being used across the unit. Sharing ideas as a team is valued and wherever possible this is happening.

Reading, comprehension and text analysis is incorporated into our Early Years Program. Our program emphasises the importance of reading for meaning, with all students across the unit being delivered a program which develops the skills necessary for deeper levels of comprehension. The context of what is read is discussed, which then leads to discussion centred upon characters, mood, setting etc… Oral discussion and group activities are used along with individual responses to text. Guided Reading, Modelled Reading, Shared Reading and Read Aloud teaching strategies are incorporated into planning and programs. Student reading development is regularly assessed with teachers working collaboratively to cater for different groups across classrooms when required.

Opportunities to broaden student vocabulary are incorporated into programs. Conversation as a grade and in small groups is intrinsic to all learning situations. Opportunities for children to talk to a wider audience are incorporated when relevant to our classroom program.    


Our numeracy program this term will build upon our students understanding of Chance, Data, Patterns, Sorting –Venn Diagrams, 2D Shapes, Location, Time, Money, Mass, Volume and Capacity. The program will also cover number facts to 10/20 and beyond, doubles and near doubles to 20, addition and subtraction to 20 plus. Open ended activities have been planned to cater for the needs of different students.  The Early Years Numeracy instruction model is implemented in classrooms.

General Discussion

The Prep students are completing the new ‘Online English Interview’ assessment. This appears to be a very worthwhile assessment tool but is also a time consuming assessment program. We are trying to implement this assessment with as little disruption to our teaching program; however, it is inevitable that there will be some minor disruptions if we are to assess each student within the timeline provided.

Once again the Prep Team are looking forward to an exciting ‘jam-packed’ term. Transition will be an important focus as we prepare our students for the Junior Unit in 2010.

The Prep Team

Cheers Nina – I hope you find this interesting.

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Preps (5&6 Year Olds) can reflect upon their learning: Toys designed by Preps!

As part of our inquiry ‘Toy Story’, the children have been designing and making their own toys. To support this we have been teaching the Primary Science ‘On the Move’ unit. The children have learnt about how toys move and what makes them move.

To celebrate their success and to give our students the opportunity to share their understanding with others, the Preps held their own Toy Expo this week. Parents and students were invited to question and admire the designs and toys. Visitors were requested to bring a gold coin donation with the money collected being given to the Salvation Army. The children raised $ 214 which is fantastic. When I told my students how much the Preps collected, there were gasps! One child said he’d never seen so much money!

Our Toy Drive has been equally successful with four huge boxes filled to capacity with all sorts of toys. My school is part of a very special and giving community.

Once the children had finished their toy and design brief they were asked to reflect and write about their toy. I also completed a teacher reflection which they were very keen to read. I was very pleased with their reflections. Have a look at the photos below!











The children have loved this inquiry and have realised that they can make a difference in the lives of others through Service Learning.

Cheers Nina

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