Monday, February 16, 2015

Discovering the art of Inquiry (again)

Since moving to China and starting work at Suzhou Singapore International School. I've been learning the IB Curriculum and Primary Years Programme, which has a strong inquiry focus. This was one of the incentives to moving overseas.
How We Express Ourselves Grade 2 Expo
New Zealand's curriculum is designed to develop and teach Inquiry Based Learning and before National Standards, it was an exciting time to be in NZ Education. Schools were given the opportunity to develop their own curriculum, catering to their community, under the NZ Curriculum Framework, and design learning for contemporary times. Even though this was still the expectation, the introduction of National Standards stilted and stifled the creative process around curriculum development and teachers' professional learning development. Don't get me wrong, elements of National Standards are good, especially in areas of formative assessment, but overall these standards should be benchmarks and I don't agree with the reporting system or the gathering of student data used to drive the current initiatives in the education system.
Performing a Haka to the School
The PYP development I have been receiving has been beneficial in helping me continue the process of teaching effective Inquiry which, I felt, I lost when National Standards was introduced.
How We Organise Ourselves field trip
The PYP has enabled me to gain a strong understanding of how to develop strong backbone planning to support students to lead their learning. Through a collaborative team approach I've been able to explore how to weave subject areas together using transdisciplinary themes and central ideas, focus my teaching through lines of inquiry and teacher questions, develop the
learner profiles and attitudes, instil key concepts and, ultimately, prepare students for the big wide world. Above all, I've learned how to effectively assess students learning through Inquiry Based Learning, which is something I needed development in when working in NZ, but wasn't able to obtain. Most importantly, it's brought back my passion for teaching because I don't feel as restrained as what I did in New Zealand.
How the World Works investigation
I look forward to consolidating this knowledge over the next year and thinking of ways this style of learning can become a strength of NZ teaching again, so we can invigorate our teachers and students to remember the enjoyment, reward and diversity of learning.