This weekend I had the opportunity to present at the EdTechTeam Victoria Summit. I did my best to condense a month long inquiry project into an hour long session and now I’m attempting to condense further to a blog post that is a readable length. My slides can be found here:  Feel free to fire away some questions in the comments if you want more information on any part of this.

How Do We Learn? An Inquiry Approach

(This project is inspired by Dive Into Inquiry by Trevor MacKenzie, our book review can be found here.)

Although I’ve covered Growth Mindset each year with my classes and really brought this language into our classroom, my goal this year was to create an inquiry project we could use at the start of the year that dives into this question of “How do we learn?”

Why? I wanted a project that starts to introduce some of the expectations in the classroom but also builds relationship between myself and the students, as well as with each other. Three of the “rules” I set for myself in the classroom are: relationships first, keep my thoughts/plans student-centered, and make our work meaningful to students. With these in mind, I started to plan a unit that would fit with some of my beginning of the year goals. Additionally, this is a structured inquiry to start building our language and understanding around inquiry in our classroom.

Unit Goals

Overall – Mostly I want my students to realize that they already have skills that make them a learner and that those skills are going to be valued and celebrated in this classroom.

Classroom – I want us to have common language to discuss our learning with each other. I also want students to have the time to share and talk about our learning styles and needs as I believe it makes us more away and compassionate to our classmates.

Curricular (BC Curriculum) – This unit is packed with Core Competency lessons, as well curricular competencies in Science and goal setting. The BC Curriculum has the nervous system in Grade 6 science so learning how are brain work falls in with this.

Technology – I wanted to give my students the opportunity to practice skills such as colour fills, word art, adding images, text boxes, etc. in order to make a final presentation they are proud of. My hope is by allowing them to spend time to be creative with this in September, we won’t have to spend as much time with this when we are doing projects where content needs to be the main focus.

Unit Overview:

Big Idea – When we understand how we learn, we become better learners

Essential Questions – How do we learn? How do our brains grow and change? Who am I as a learner?

Performance Task – To create a personal learner profile

Learning Plan:
Please see resources in the slides linked at the top.

  • Start with a read aloud picture book around Growth Mindset (e.g. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires)
  • Do a team building STEM project that requires problem solving and perseverance
  • Growth Mindset videos (e.g. Class Dojo)
  • Growth Mindset Lessons
  • Look into Multiple Intelligences, etc. and discuss pros/cons
  • Connect to self through exploration of First Peoples Principles of Learning
  • Co-Create Criteria for Learner Profile
  • Create Learner Profiles
  • Reflect on work (FreshGrade)

Learner Profile Template

My Example

I used my example as a way to share more about myself with my students. Growth Mindset doesn’t have to be about school subjects – my example is about my shyness growing up and what I learned to do about it.

Student Reflection

I am planning a full post on my FreshGrade responses this year (co-created with Kelli Meredith) but here is a little preview with a student reflection on his Learner Profile.

“I believe that I am fully meeting expectations because I took the time in making this learner profile the best I could and took my prior knowledge of google docs and used that knowledge to the fullest 🙂

I think the thing I did best was the writing and sentences and made sure that the learning goal was realistic and achievable.

The thing I want to work on more is adding more descriptive words next time.”

He was able to take some of the language directly out of our co-created criteria and apply it to his reflection – This is what we want, right?!

My Reflection

Through creating this presentation, I was able to deeply reflect on the pieces of this inquiry that were really successful and informative for my teaching. The space where students chose three words to describe themselves was very insightful for me in not only getting to know how students view themselves, but in the ways they value themselves. As with anything we do, there are definitely ways I would improve this unit next time. I really loved connecting with the First Peoples Principles of Learning and I feel that I have made adjustments to do this more deeply and with more reflection.

It feels like a blog post doesn’t totally due justice to a project that was filled with so much heart and relationship building. As always, please connect if you have any questions!