Tag Archives: science

RECOMMENDATIONS

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Critical Evaluation of the ILA.

The TechnoPush Inquiry Learning Activity (ILA) sits mainly within the science curriculum addressing learning outcomes in Science & Technology at Stage 3:

  • Investigating (Inv 3.7), Design and making (DM 3.8) and Using technology (UT3.9)
  • Physical Phenomena (PP3.4) and Products and service (PS3.5)

In addition to this it also provides strong links with the Stage 3 Key Learning Areas of English, Mathematics and PDHPE.

“Inquiry” has been a central goal of science education for decades and is the hallmark for current science education reform efforts (Quigley ,Marshall, Deaton & Cook, 2011; Abd-el-Khalick et al. 2004; Bell, Smetana, & Binns, 2005). The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) views inquiry as “basic” to science education stressing that teachers’ should focus on conducting inquiries and developing understanding (NSTA 2004). However, contained within current research, (Donham, 2010; Abd-el-Khalick et al., 2004; Zion et al. 2007) is much discussion and debate as to what authentic inquiry learning constitutes and how one would recognise it in a classroom. In this ILA it was clearly recognisable and the learning experiences sat for the most part in the Guided Inquiry domain whereby students investigate a teacher-presented question using student designed/selected procedures (Bell, R., Smetana, L., Binns, I. 2005, p.7). There were however some instances of Structured Inquiry whereby students investigate a teacher-presented question through a prescribed procedure (Bell, R., Smetana, L., Binns, I. 2005, p.7). These instances occurred when students needed intervention to help them develop particular skills. As is the case with Guided Inquiry, the project was determined by the teacher and students were responsible for designing investigations to answer the questions that occurred during the project. For example, “Which type of braking system will be the best for our Pushcart?” Students had to develop each component of the ensuing investigation including a hypothesis, procedures, data analysis and conclusion. The teacher, and other experts, (an engineer in this case) were used as ‘guides on the side’. A carefully planned and supervised approach is necessary for children in this upper primary age group as they are in a transition to more abstraction in learning. These students need guidance as they “explore ideas from various sources and integrate those ideas into their own thinking” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p.28).

(For more information about the Levels of Inquiry that can be experienced in a Science classroom read the blog post Synthesizing the Information.)

Schools that participated in the TechnoPush challenge were provided with a package of suggested learning experiences for students to participate in and teachers were left to teach the lessons as they thought suited the needs of their students. Although there was no Inquiry Learning model attached to this, from my observations, the students in this ILA mostly followed the process of the SAUCE model (Figure 1. Bond, 2010). Most of the Inquiry Learning models follow a sequence that is influenced by Kuhlthau’s Model of the Information Search Process. This involves students moving through stages of Initiation, Selection, Exploration, Formulation, Collection, Presentation and Assessment.

Figure 2.The SAUCE model (Bond 2010)

This is certainly the case with Bonds SAUCE model, where students, Set the scene, Acquire and Use, however what was particularly pertinent to this ILA was the next step, Celebrate understanding. As the students in this ILA designed and built a working product in the form of the Pushcart there was a lot of excitement around their highly visible achievement which aligns with Bond’s model as there was a celebration of their understanding. Students were proud of their achievement and their efforts were recognised in the school newsletter and local media. Students were invited to include their Pushcart in a local festival as part of the parade and it was also on display and admired throughout several fundraising activities and the school fete. The wider community shared in the students achievements which made the students more aware of their sense of accomplishment. The Evaluation component of the SAUCE model where” the major focus will be on the process that the learner has moved through to complete the task” (Bond 2010) occurred when the students had to explain the entire process they had engaged in to a panel of judges at the two Challenge race days.

This ILA operated under the objectives set out in the NSW Board of Studies Syllabus Document –Science and Technology K-6. In this syllabus Science is described as, “concerned with finding out about the world in a systematic way… Science is not just a body of knowledge but is also a process of investigation” (1993, p.7) This reflects the view widely held by most scientific educators, as discussed previously in this blog, that scientific inquiry is viewed as both content and a vehicle for learning content. Although there is no specific discussion of Inquiry Learning in the syllabus, in the Designing and Making strand a flow chart (Figure 2) that strongly resembles the Guided Inquiry process is provided as a possible way to sequence learning experiences. The students in this ILA closely followed the process outlined with the exception of ‘reflecting’ which is discussed later.


Figure 2. NSW K-6 Science and Technology Syllabus (1991, p.32)

This ILA was highly successful in that students met all of the requirements of the criteria outlined by the brief at a stage 3 (years 4-6) level. Specific criteria are described below, and from my observations students also demonstrated that they met the criteria for Information and Communication even though this was not listed as a component required for the project.

InvestigatingINV S3.7Conducts their owninvestigations and

makes judgements

based on the results

of observing,

questioning,

planning,

predicting, testing,

collecting, recording

and analysing data,

and drawing

conclusions.

PhysicalPhenomenaPP S3.4Identifies and

applies processes

involved in

manipulating, using

and changing the

form of energy.

UsingTechnologyUT S3.9Evaluates, selects

and uses a range of

equipment,

computer-based

technology,

materials and other

resources to meet

the requirements

and constraints of

investigation and

design tasks.

Designing andMakingDM S3.8Develops and

resolves a design

task by planning,

implementing

managing and

evaluating design

processes.

Products andServicesPS S3.5Creates and

evaluates products

and services,

demonstrating

consideration of

sustainability,

aesthetic, cultural,

safety and

functional issues.


Information andCommunicationIC S3.2Creates and

evaluates

information

products and

processes,

demonstrating

consideration of the

type of media, form,

audience and

ethical issues.

Outcomes: Science & Technology K-6. Content and Learning Processes (2006, P.16-17)

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), in the national curriculum document for Science, recommends that students in Years 3–6 (typically from 8 to 12 years of age), work within a Curriculum focus of: recognising questions that can be investigated scientifically and investigating them

“In the early years of primary school, students will tend to use a trial-and-error approach to their science investigations. As they progress through these years, the expectation is that they will begin to work in a more systematic way. The notion of a ‘fair test’ and the idea of variables will be developed, as well as other forms of science inquiry. Understanding the importance of measurement will also be fostered” (2009, p.7)

If the TechnoPush ILA is considered in terms of requirements needed to meet the aims of the Australian Curriculum Science document it was a highly successful project. As represented in Table 1, there are ranges of ‘unifying ideas’ that are organised under three strands. ACARA states; “The unifying ideas are developmental in nature with subsequent unifying ideas building on those for the previous year grouping. In this way, unifying ideas enable students to accumulate knowledge over time for deeper understanding” (2009, p.6).

The students who participated in the ILA were given the opportunity to participate in the ideas highlighted in Table 1 and in most cases achieved the understanding and results indicative of the experiences.

Science understanding
  • properties and uses of materials
  • forces and motion
  • forms, use and transfer of energy
  • structures and functions of living things
  • life cycles of organisms
  • living things and the environment
  • changes on earth and in space
  • relationship between earth, moon and sun

  • earth’s resources and their uses.
Science inquiry skills
  • identify questions and predictions for testing
  • plan and conduct simple investigations
  • observe, describe and measure


collect, record and present data as


tables, diagrams or descriptions

  • analyse data, describe and explain relationships
  • discuss and compare results with predictions
  • draw conclusions and communicate ideas and understandings.
Science as a human endeavour
  • consider how science is used in work and leisure
  • become aware of science-related careers
  • recognise the effect of science and technology on our environment

  • be aware of the historical nature of science ideas.

Table 1. ACARA Unifying Ideas for Years 3- 6 in Science. (2009, p.8)

The learning experiences involved in the ACARA Science Inquiry Skills domain link to the thinking skills illustrated in Blooms Revised Taxonomy (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Blooms Revised Taxonomy (Overbaugh And Schultz nd.)

Each of the categories has a number of key verbs associated with it that describe learning experiences, as illustrated in Figure 4. Each of the levels allows students to engage either higher or lower order thinking skills. (For more information on the ILA and Higher Order Thinking Skills watch this video). https://learninginquiry.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/video-title/). Learners generally begin with the most basic tasks of remembering facts, figures, and other information then progress through understanding that information, applying it in new ways, analysing it to understand its parts, evaluating the information and supporting decision with it, and finally creating new information, a product , or a new point of view based on the original information (Overbaugh & Schultz, Bloom’s Taxonomy). The ILA was very successful in that students were continually required to access Higher Order Thinking skills.


Figure 4. Higher and Lower Order Thinking Skills. (Churches, 2007)

However, given that the students arrived at the remembering part of the process at the end of the ILA would seem to support the ideas put forth by Shelly Wright (2012) and Justin Marquis (2012) that it is time to flip Blooms Taxonomy so students start with creating right from the outset. Wright (2012,) states that the basic idea behind the flip is that students start by creating something within the area that is being introduced. This is a largely uninformed creation based on tacit knowledge, akin to a pre-reading, prior knowledge activation activity. Students then evaluate their creation based on comparing it to professional examples from the field. This is how the ILA students began, drawing ideas and making models of what a pushcart might look like. It was only after this that they began to research to make sure their pushcart met the specific design requirements. Their process is represented in the posters below.

                   

               


Students presented the learning process on posters and in PowerPoint presentations.

Marquis (2012 para.9) argues that this process is very much in line with Inquiry or Discovery based learning where students are introduced to a problem or explore something to see how it really works; then they work towards developing an understanding of the principles underlying that discovery. However, in order for students to truly embrace the creative process, they must feel that the product that they are creating has real world value. This can be accomplished by linking the exercise to real clients or by providing a public venue for sharing the finished work. This was the case with the TechnoPush project, the final product and the application of it had real world value and it was shared publicly both at a local and state level with the general public and other communities of learners.

Marquis in his model of the flipped taxonomy (Figure 5) accounts for the social constructivist view that learning and knowledge creation are social activities. The students in the TechnoPush ILA were actively engaged with their peers collaboratively creating their products, discussing their decisions, and negotiating the underlying rules and principles behind what they were learning.


Figure 5. Blooms Flipped Taxonomy for the 21st Century (Marquis 2012)

The term Information Literacy is commonly applied to the ability to access and use information sources in the rapidly growing technological information environment (Kuhlthau et al. 1997 p, 77). The GeST windows (Lupton and Bruce) is a model by which one can view the different experiences of Information Literacy through the windows of:-

  • Generic – a set of discrete, neutral generic skills related to reading, writing and the use of technology (behavioural).
  • Situated – social practices involving solving personal, work, family and community problems (sociocultural).
  • Transformative – effecting social change through an emancipatory process (critical). (Lupton & Bruce 2010)

The literacy skills are not hierarchical but rather embedded or nested. Students in this ILA were required to go beyond simply locating and using information and experienced

 “relational” learning. They experienced Information Literacy mainly through the situated window as highlighted in Figure 6.


Figure 6. GeST windows (Lupton & Bruce 2010)

At times students worked between both the generic and situated window depending on what was required of them and also depending on their level of ability. The students experienced learning information literacy by ‘engaging in collaborative and participatory information practices’ when they created two group PowerPoint presentations that were published on the internet. These did not however critique society or lead to social action, nor was this a requirement of the task. They may however be accessed by students who are participating in this challenge in the future thus they have contributed to the existing body of knowledge on this particular topic.

If we consider the following descriptors for information Literacy from ALIA (2003) it is clear that the ILA has been successful as students have demonstrated their ability to achieve these and would be able to now apply these descriptors to themselves.

  • Information literacy means being information wise. It means knowing when a book may be more helpful than a computer. It means knowing how to find, evaluate and use information in all forms.
  • Information literacy is more than print literacy, computer literacy or media literacy.
  • It means knowing when you need information, where to find it and how to evaluate and use it in your everyday life.

They found the information they needed from a variety of sources, not just print, but also from experts. They have evaluated the validity and usefulness of this information and used it in their everyday life by designing, building and racing the pushcart. Overall this ILA has provided learning opportunities and experiences for the students that have allowed them to investigate scientifically, use Higher Order Thinking Skills, develop Information Literacy and collaboratively contribute to the existing body of knowledge on the topic of Pushcarts. Due to the nature of this ILA a community of learners has been created in which “knowledge that students have from the outside world consistently joins together with the curricular content, helping them to inform their own worldviews” (Kuhlthau et.al, 2007, p.34). A successful Inquiry Learning Activity indeed.

Recommendations for Future Practice

Collaboration

Given that this ILA was highly successful there are only a few recommendations that I have to make and I believe that these would have occurred in the first instance if budgetary constraints weren’t a consideration. Effective inquiry-based learning requires a team of professionals to design implement and assess student learning (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007). One solution to help meet this challenge within a school context is collaboration, particularly between a teacher and teacher-librarian with a common vision. The teacher responsible for this ILA was both the library and science specialist who had the 4/5/6 class one day per week as part of the relief from face to face (RFF) requirements. Considering that all the research underpins collaboration (Kuhlthau et.al, 2007; Quigley, Marshall, Deaton & Cook, 2011; Donham 2010) and the use of an instructional team (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007) as essential for the success of an Inquiry Learning project it would be ideal for the classroom teacher to have RFF on another day and collaborate with the ILA teacher during the TechnoPush project. This would have been particularly useful given the large amount of organisation throughout the project, particularly travelling and competing in the Challenge days and also for intervening in student learning, which is the next recommendation.

Given that there were a number of small schools in the region competing in the TechnoPush Challenge for the first time it would be beneficial for the teachers involved to collaborate amongst schools. Rather than delivering the learning experiences as an isolated, individual process teachers could share resources and ideas and support each other through the teaching experience. This could serve to foster greater links between schools and also give students a greater awareness of what others are doing on their TechnoPush project.

Intervention

In Guided Inquiry it is recommended that the Instructional team employs intervention strategies at relevant times to assist students in “that area in which the student can do with advice and assistance what he or she cannot do alone or can do only with great difficulty”
(Kuhlthau et.al, 2007, p.140). Throughout this project there were periods of great intensity when students were w0orking in small groups on tasks that required them to learn new curriculum content, social skills, physical skills and information literacy and with only one teacher in the room there was great difficulty providing useful intervention. If another teacher had been available, the types of interventions as recommended by Kuhlthau et.al, in Figure 7, would have been able to occur.

Interventions for Learning in the Inquiry Process

Five Kinds of Learning

Types of Intervention

Curriculum Content gaining knowledge, interpreting, and synthesizing
Information Literacy locating, evaluating, and using information
Learning How to Learn initiating, selecting, exploring, focusing, collecting, presenting, and reflecting
Literacy Competence reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing
Social Skills cooperating, collaborating, flexibility, and persistence

Figure 7. Interventions for Learning in the Inquiry Process (Kuhlthau et.al, 2007, p.141)

In the findings from this project students recorded ‘research’ as the hardest to do. It would have been ideal to intervene whilst the students were experiencing the Information Searching Process as they needed guidance to help develop their information literacy. Students were looking for sources of information and needed advice on how to find relevant, useful and pertinent sources of facts and ideas. Added to this was the affective component where the students were feeling frustration, confusion and uncertainty, intervention at this point would have allowed students to articulate their thoughts and feelings, thus giving them insight into the process of learning, which leads directly to the next recommendation, Reflection.

Reflection

“Reflection and thinking about the ideas encountered in the inquiry process enable students to construct knowledge and meaning” (Kuhlthau et.al, 2007, p.25). Given that reflection is a fundamental component of Inquiry (Kuhlthau et.al, 2007; Alberta, 2004) it would have been worthwhile to utilise it more as a means of thinking about learning during each step of TechnoPush project. Students can learn by reflecting on their experiences (Dewey 1933). The goals for reflection in this case would be to ‘de-brief’, encourage group problem solving, develop a range of speaking and listening skill and develop higher order thinking skills. Given that the students engaged in the TechnoPush learning activities over the course of one day the ideal format would be for students to re-group for a period of time at the end of that day and be led through a reflection process by the teacher. This could include individual reflection in the form of a journal or answering specific questions i.e. those on the SLIM Learning Reflection sheets. Students could then discuss their feelings, observations, report on successes and difficulties and this could frame up the direction that the activities needed to take during the next session. All thinking and dialogue requires some form of reflection if learning is to take place. Students of this age in particular need time and reconsideration of events to put facts and ideas into sequence. Reflection activities would allow them a sense of intellectual ownership and a better understanding of oneself and one’s own abilities and of the learning process they are experiencing.

Sharing.

As this ILA was very successful the final recommendation that I would make is to share the story of the learning experiences and findings from the research project to parents and the wider community. Parents are important stakeholders in their children’s education… they want their children to be prepared for success. Parents can be most enthusiastic supporters when they see the engagement and interest their children have in school (Kuhlthau et.al, 2007, p.59). In the case of this ILA parents also took on the role of experts, consulting with students during the design and building phases, this helped to bring the outside world into the classroom and enriched the learning environment, they were able to “give pertinent information at the point when it is needed” (Kuhlthau et.al, 2007, p.73). The video presentation was completed for the purpose of presenting to parents, to allow insight into the valuable learning their children experienced, share the projects findings and show how their expertise had assisted their children and the others in the class. Parents also have access to this blog for these purposes.

In the future teachers could keep parents informed through the school newsletter and students could also present to the P&C and parent groups as a method of preparing for presenting on the Challenge days. Students also completed two PowerPoint presentations that are available on the internet that share the process they experienced. The school also received attention from the local media that included a variety of photos and articles about this project, particularly during fundraising efforts and they were also invited to participate in a parade for a local Arts festival with their pushcart. The positive acknowledgement that students’ experienced through sharing this project increased their pride in their achievements and fostered a greater sense of community within the school.

REFERENCES

Abd-El-Khalick, F., BouJaoude, S., Duschl, R., Lederman, N. G., Mamlok-Naaman, R.,Hofstein, A., Niaz, M., Treagust, D. and Tuan, H.-l. (2004), Inquiry in science education: International perspectives. Sci. Ed., 88: 397–419. Retrieved August 12, 2012 from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/sce.10118/pdf

ACARA. (2009). National Curriculum Board. Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Science
© Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved October 22, 2012 from http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Australian_Curriculum_-_Science.pdf

Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) (2003) A library advocate’s guide to building information literate communities Information Literacy Forum Advocacy Kit 2003a .

Retrieved October 20, 2012 from
http://www.alia.org.au/advocacy/literacy.kit.pdf

Bell, R., Smetana, L.,Binns, I. (2005)Simplifying Inquiry Instruction. The Science Teacher. 72 (7) Retrieved August  15, 2012 from http://www.nsta.org/publications/news/story.aspx?id=50983

Bond, T (2010.) SAUCE: An Inquiry Learning Approach. Retrieved  September 13, 2012 from http://ictnz.com/sauce-resources/SAUCE-description2.htm

Churches, A. (2007). Educational Origami. Retrieved October 1, 2012 from http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/Bloom%27s+and+ICT+tools

DET NSW. (1993). Science and technology. K-6 Syllabus and support document. Board of Studies. Sydney , Australia. . Retrieved October 22, 2012 from http://k6.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/files/science-and-technology/k6_scitech_syl.pdf

DET NSW. (2006). Science and Technology K-6 Outcomes and Indicators. © Board of Studies. Sydney , Australia. . Retrieved October 22, 2012 from ttp://k6.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/files/science-and-technology/k6_scitech_outcomes.pdf

Donham, J (2010) Deep Learning Through Concept- Based Inquiry. School Library Monthly 27 (1) Retrieved   September 5, 2012 from http://www.schoollibrarymonthly.com/articles/Donham2010-v27n1p8.html

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. And Caspari, A. (2007) Guided Inquiry: learning in the 21st century school. Westport: Greenwood

Lupton, Mandy and Bruce, Christine. (2010). Chapter 1 : Windows on Information Literacy Worlds : Generic, Situated and Transformative Perspectives in Lloyd, Annemaree and Talja, Sanna, Practising information literacy : bringing theories of learning, practice and information literacy together, Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, pp.3-27.

Marquis, J. (2012).
Flipping and Expanding Bloom’s Taxonomy. Retrieved October 20, 2012 from
http://www.onlineuniversities.com/blog/2012/06/flipping-expanding-blooms-taxonomy/

National Science Teachers Association (2004) Position Statement : Science Inquiry Retrieved October 7, 2012 from http://www.nsta.org/

Olson, S and Loucks-Horsley, S . (Ed.) (2008) Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning; Committee on the Development of an Addendum to the National Science Education Standards on Scientific Inquiry; National Research Council. Retrieved September2, 2012 from

http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~jossem/REF/59.pdf

Overbaugh, R. And Schultz, l.(n.d.) Blooms Taxonomy. Retrieved October 20, 2012 from http://ww2.odu.edu/educ/roverbau/Bloom/blooms_taxonomy.htm

Quigley, C. , Marshall, J.Deaton, C.Cook, M, & Padilla, M.(2011) Challenges to Inquiry Teaching and Suggestions for How to Meet Them Science Educator; 20 (1) 55-61 Retrieved August 12, 2012 from http://www.eric.ed.gov.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=EJ940939

Wright, S. (2012)
Less Teacher, More Student, Passion Based Learning, The How of 21st Century Teaching, Voices
Retrieved October 20, 2012 from
http://plpnetwork.com/2012/05/15/flipping-blooms-taxonomy/


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TechnoPush – An Inquiry Learning Project

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This video discusses the learning experiences of a class of year 4/5/6 students as they participated in the TechnoPush Challenge. It was designed mainly as feedback for parents to describe the learning experiences that students participated in and was included in the E-NEWSLETTER:-


“Jacqui Hinshaw has been completing a research project for her university degree and has offered to share her BLOG. The 4/5/6 class and TechoPush project were the basis for her project and she has put together an amazing analysis of the Inquiry learning that the children were involved in. If anyone is interested in having a look this is the link: https://learninginquiry.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/video-title/.You may also click on the two previous posts on this site, these explain the whole process in greater depth.” KH

RESULTS

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RESULTS OF DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS

The first three questions on the Learning Reflection / Questionnaire sheets aim to ascertain the student’s prior knowledge and interest level in the assignment topic. In particular, Question 1. “seeks to capture the existing knowledge of a topic that the student brings to the task” (Todd, Kuhlthau and Heinstrom, 2005, p.18). The first question was worded to specifically ask students what they knew about the TechnoPush project and building and racing a pushcart. As previously stated the first questionnaire was completed a few weeks into the project and the second (final) questionnaire was completed two weeks after the conclusion of the entire TechnoPush project. The student responses to question 1 were then categorised into knowledge statements and coded as fact, explanation or conclusion statements.

Figure 1: Class results for Question 1

The results presented in Figure 1 demonstrate an increase in explanation and conclusion statements. Todd et al. (2005, app.B ) state that this is indicative of a significant growth in understanding of the topic. This signals a significant conceptual change to the student’s initial knowledge and demonstrates evidence of deeper processing which is one of the aims of inquiry learning. In order to achieve processing at this level “engagement and motivation” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari , 2007, p.26) are required. Figure 2 examines the students’ interest level at the beginning and end stages of the inquiry process and it is of value to compare the two sets of data.

Due to problems uploading this graph, click below to see it.

Figure 2  

Figure 2: Student Interest Level, Questionnaire 1 and 2

From the outset students were interested in this topic and their level of interest increased significantly throughout. On the first questionnaire 5 students (1/3), rated their interest as only ‘slightly’ but by the end of the project twelve out of the fifteen students record their interest level as being; ‘ very or extremely’ interested, the two highest ratings. The overall success of this Inquiry learning project can be attributed in part to the high levels of student interest. Student engagement in the project is essential for deep understanding and learning to occur (Kuhlthau et.al, 2007, p.25, Alberta Learning, 2004). “People learn best when they are actively involved in making sense of the world rather than passive receivers of information” (Bruner 1994 as cited in Kuhlthau et.al 2007, p.25).

To relate the data from questions 2 and 3 to the findings from question 1 a subset of six students were tracked throughout the Inquiry Learning Activity (ILA). Two students from each year level were selected and their data has been analysed in greater detail in Figure 3.

STUDENTS

Questionnaire

Yr.6 S1

Yr. 6 S2

Yr.5 S3

Yr.5 S4

Yr.4 S5

Yr.4 S6

Self Rated Level of Interest (scale 0-4)

1

3

3

2

3

1

4

2

4

3

4

3

3

4

Self Rated Level of Knowledge (scale 0-4)

1

2

2

2

3

2

3

2

3

3

3

3

1

3

Knowledge

1 Fact

1

4

2

2

1

1

Explan

1

Conc

2 Fact

2

1

1

2

Explan

2

1

1

Conc

1

1

1

1

Figure 3. Table of responses. Questions 1 – 3.

Students 3 and 5 rated themselves at the lowest end of the scale, both in terms of interest and knowledge in Questionnaire 1 and although their interest levels had increased by two points in Questionnaire 2, Student 5’s self rating for knowledge had decreased. His actual measured knowledge in contrast had increased: In Questionnaire 1 Student 5 had only provided a fact statement.

              It has wheels.

Whereas in Questionnaire 2, Student 5 provided both a fact and explanation statement;

One pushes and the other (one) rides. You have to do this together to race echother (sic) to the finish line.

So, in terms of knowledge gained Student 5 had increased, but his perception of his knowledge had decreased. One reason for this anomaly could be that insufficient reflection had occurred throughout the project. ” Reflection and thinking about the ideas encountered in the inquiry process enable students to construct knowledge and meaning” (Kuhlthau et.al, 2007, p.25). Given that the student is only in year 4 he may have benefited from increased reflection, which is a fundamental component of each step of the Inquiry process (Alberta 2004, para. 8).

Three out of the other five students in the sample rated their knowledge higher and two rated themselves the same in Questionnaire 2. Their levels of interest also increased significantly. There was no great variance in interest between the tracked students in years 4, 5 & 6 but there was a slight difference between the year levels in the measured knowledge component.

On Questionnaire 1, the year 4 students only provided one fact each whereas all the other students (with the exception of S1- year 6) had provided at least two fact statements. This could be due simply to their age and level of cognitive development. However by the end of the project each of these students demonstrated a measurable increase in understanding.

Student 5s responses have previously been discussed. In questionnaire 1, Student 1 (Yr. 6) responded with a single fact statement.

               It has wheels and steering.

In questionnaire 2 he still only provided a single statement but it was an insightful conclusive statement based on the experiences gained throughout the whole project.

              Its (sic) not all about winning its (sic) about having fun.

Student 6 also provided a single fact statement in questionnaire 1.

              I knew what one should look like.

Then, by the end of the project in Questionnaire 2, he was able to provide two factual and one explanation statement.

You build a pushcart design then you choose people to make the design. You vote choose a pitcrew (sic).

Each of the students in this Inquiry project have demonstrated that their past experiences and prior understandings formed the basis for creating new knowledge. This is one of the basic tenets of constructivist theory which also maintains that connections to a child’s present knowledge are essential for constructing new understanding (Kuhlthau et.al, 2007, p.25). This Guided Inquiry project has been successful in that students have been able to build on what they already know to form personal perspectives about the world around them. They have been involved in an active ongoing process of learning.

Data for the first three questions were coded and analysed according to the SLIM toolkit. For questions four and five and six, themes emerged from the data and coding categories were developed for these.

The responses on Questionnaire 1 relate specifically to research as this is what the students had been engaged in. However, Questionnaire 2, relates to the whole TechnoPush project and when experienced in its entirety research was only a minor component hence there is a great variation in emergent themes. The themes have been categorised according to the terms that students used.


Figure 4. Questionnaire 1. Student responses to questions 4 & 5

Interestingly, in the responses to questions 4 and 5 on Questionnaire 1 (Figure 4) ‘research’ and ‘write out information’ appears as both easy and hard in varying degrees. If time permitted it would have been worthwhile to interview the students and extrapolate exactly what they meant by these generalised terms. The seemingly conflicting data in these responses can be explained from an observation I did of the class whilst they were researching.

My initial observation of this class occurred during the students’ first research lesson and they experienced a number of difficulties with the information search process (ISP). They were attempting to find information about specific components of the pushcart i.e. steering:- rack and pinion or Ackermann; brakes:- pedal or hand; and so forth. This research was to help them make informed decisions as to which components to include on their pushcart when they constructed it and they also had to ensure they met the specifications set by TechnoPush (Appendix A).

The students were working in self selected groups of four and the information they were finding was complex and very little related specifically to pushcart design. When they did find relevant sites most students did not have the capabilities to extract the necessary information from them .So, even though the students could easily find sites about ‘rack and pinion steering’ finding exactly what they needed to inform their pushcart design was extremely difficult for them. This could account for the largest number of responses in hard to do being ‘finding true (relevant) information’. Added to this frustration were the large numbers of blocked sites that students encountered. This lesson left most of the students experiencing feelings of frustration, confusion and doubt which is common during the information search process. (Kuhlthau et.al, 2007, p.19. Oberg, 1999, Para. 12).

Blocked sites were a common source of frustration for students during the ISP.

As Questionnaire 2 was filled in after the whole TechnoPush project had been completed the responses to Question 4 and 5 encompass this total experience. The emergent themes for Question 4 can be grouped under the broad heading of physical experiences (Figure 5). The students found driving, building and steering the cart easy to do. Added to this, from my observations they also found these physical aspects very enjoyable. The results they achieved during the race challenges would also support that the students performed extremely well in this aspect of the challenge, being selected to travel to Sydney for the finals.




Figure 5. Questionnaire 2. Q 4. Easy to do.

In contrast the responses to Question 5, hard to do, (Figure 6), can be grouped under three broad headings; physical, emotional and cognitive. Building the cart again appears and as noted on some of the individual responses a specific difficulty was learning how to use tools which is discussed further in response to Question 6. The other physical aspect that rated as hard was ‘running’. From some of the individual responses it would appear that the endurance part of the course was difficult as was the fitness training they did each week.

Running fast up hills on the course was hard.(S2)

I dont (sic) like running round the oval all the time.( S3)

Interestingly ‘research’ rated as the highest score in hard to do. This could be as a result of the difficulties experienced as discussed previously. In addition to this students had to re-visit their initial research several times throughout the entire project and present it in different formats emphasising varying elements. They had to use it for posters to explain the entire research, design and building process and also for two PowerPoint presentations required by the Kids Design Challenge judging panel. So, as students again accessed the research that caused feelings of frustration, confusion and doubt it seems that those feelings were again experienced to some degree with each new collection and presentation phase of the project.

 

 

 Students researched and presented posters in small groups, they then used these to present information to the TechnoPush judging panel.

An unexpected response from the students was the inclusion ‘cooperating’ as hard to do. Although only listed in this question by two students it is the equal highest rating in Question 6 and is discussed in detail as part of that analysis.

Figure 6. Questionnaire 2. Q5. Hard to do.

In the SLIM toolkit; Question 6. “What did you learn in doing this research unit?” gives the students an opportunity to reflect on their acquired skills (Todd et.al. 2005, p.19). However, as the TechnoPush project was broader than just a research project the question was reworded to: Question 6. “What did you learn in doing the TechnoPush project?” This gave students the opportunity to reflect on the project in its entirety and the emergent themes portray this.

Figure 7. Questionnaire 2. Q 6. What did you learn?

Constructivist theory recognizes learning as an holistic experience incorporating many ways of knowing. Children learn through all their senses. They apply all their physical, mental, and social capabilities (Kuhlthau et.al, 2007, p.27) and this was demonstrated in the data collected for Question 6. Again the emergent themes can be categorised under three broad headings; physical, emotional and cognitive. The surprising result to myself and the ILA teacher was the emphasis on ‘cooperation and teamwork’. This was not an explicit goal of the project but working in small groups and participating as a large team was something students were required to do throughout. Interestingly, whilst this project was taking place the Year 5 & 6 students were also participating in a Peer Support Camp and learning about leadership skills and it is this cohort of students that listed the responses in the emotional / affective domain. Through their participation in this ILA they were able to further understand both the difficulty and value of the collaborative process as they were the students whom took on the role of group leaders.

When working togeather (sic) you have to learn to cooperate with each other, to prepare for whats comming (sic) and think before you act (S3)

To co-operate with class members (S2)

To work coropratively (sic) with all studants (sic)(S4)

The students in this ILA were engaged in social construction throughout the entire project. They were required to have ongoing interaction with peers, parents, siblings, teachers and strangers, thus participating in a learning environment in which they were continuously constructing and making meaning for themselves (Kuhlthau et.al, 2007, p.28).

The greatest number of responses to Question 6 can be categorised under the theme of physical, which encompasses; Using tools, driving skills and physical fitness. Individual responses in this include:

           How to put a pushcart together and driving safely(S1).

           Leaning (sic) how to use tools (S6).

           Exsawsise (sic) and helthey (sic) eating (S5).

Learning how to use a variety of tools and how to construct the cart within the set time frame was challenging to most students in the beginning and there were affective feelings that mirrored the ISP experiences of frustration and doubt. However with weekly practice students were able to master the skills needed and became proficient at this task as is reflected in the number of responses in Figure 7 categorised under this theme.

Interestingly, research skills has a low number of responses and I believe that this is not because the students didn’t think that they learnt them but it is more to do with the timing of the final questionnaire and the wording of the question. The results of Question 7 ( Figure 8), support this theory as all students indicate that they they are either ‘confident’ or ‘happy’ with their research.

Figure 8. Questionnaire 2. Q.7.Feelings about Research.

This particualr ILA provided a holistic approach that simultaneously engaged students in a variety of learning experiences as evidenced by the results in Figure 8 and this has been the great success of the project. A wide range of resources in an array of formats presented through a variety of activities offers children a wealth of opportunities for learning (Kuhlthau et.al, 2007, p.27). The students who participated in this Technopush ILA project were offered many ways to construct deep meaning of the world and their life in it. Thus students were able to achieve success at developing competence with learning from a variety of sources while enhancing their understanding of the content areas of the curriculum (Kuhlthau et.al, 2007, p.28). This was evidenced both by the feedback sheet provided by the TechnoPush Committee (Appendix B) and the students individual assessment marks for the unit. Also, as demonstrated by the data collected and my observations of the group, students achieved an important aim of inquiry learning, “building deep knowledge and deep understanding of a topic and growing independence and ownership of their learning.” (Todd et al. 2005, p.8)

REFERENCES


Bell, R., Smetana, L.,Binns, I. (2005)Simplifying Inquiry Instruction. The Science Teacher. 72(7) Retrieved August 15, 2012 from http://www.nsta.org/publications/news/story.aspx?id=50983

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. And Caspari, A. (2007) Guided Inquiry: learning in the 21st century school. Westport:      Greenwood

Oberg, D. (1999). Teaching the research process – for discovery and personal growth.

In 65th International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Council and General Conference Bangkok, Thailand, August 20 – August 28, 1999 Retrieved September 8, 2012 from
http://archive.ifla.org/IV/ifla65/papers/078-119e.htm

Todd, R. J., Kuhlthau, C. C., & Heinstom, J. E. (2005 ). School Library Impact Measure (SLIM): A Toolkit and  Handbook For Tracking and Assessing Student Learning Outcomes Of Guided Inquiry Through The School Library. Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries, Rutgers University. Retrieved August 11 from

http://cissl.rutgers.edu/joomla-license/impact-studies/57-impact-studies-slim

 

APPENDIX A

 

APPENDIX B

SYNTHESIZING THE INFORMATION

Standard


INQUIRY LEARNING IN THE SCIENCE CLASSROOM AND THE ROLE OF THE TEACHER-LIBRARIAN.

“Inquiry” has been a central goal of science education for decades and is the hallmark for current science education reform efforts (Quigley ,Marshall, Deaton & Cook, 2011; Abd-el-Khalick et al. 2004; Bell, Smetana, & Binns, 2005). According to Abd-el-Khalick (2004, p. 398) “good science teaching and learning has come to be distinctly and increasingly associated with the term inquiry.” However, educators, practitioners and researchers recognise there are many challenges to authentic inquiry teaching. Effective inquiry-based learning requires a team of professionals to design implement and assess student learning (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari , 2007). One solution to help meet this challenge within a school context is collaboration, particularly between a teacher and teacher-librarian with a common vision.

Contained within current research, (Donham, 2010; Abd-el-Khalick et al., 2004; Zion et al. 2007) is much discussion and debate as to what authentic inquiry learning constitutes and how one would recognise it in a classroom. Part of the confusion stems from the broad spectrum of activities that can be interpreted as inquiry based. These can range from structured and guided inquiry (teacher directed) to open inquiry (student directed). The degree of complexity in an inquiry activity also varies, depending on the level of openness and the cognitive demands required. Rezba, Auldridge, and Rhea, (as cited in Bell et al. 2005, p.33) provide a succinct example of the different levels of inquiry that can be experienced within a science classroom in Table 1.

Figure 3. Levels of inquiry in an effervescent antacid tablet activity. Reprinted with permission from Rezba, Auldridge, and Rhea (1999).

Inquiry
level

Description and examples

1

Confirmation—Students confirm a principle through an activity in which the results are known in advance.
“In this investigation you will confirm that the rate of a chemical reaction increases as the temperature of the reacting materials increases. You will use effervescent antacid tablets to verify this principle. Using the following procedure, record the results as indicated, and answer the questions at the end of the activity.”

2

Structured inquiry—Students investigate a teacher-presented question through a prescribed procedure.
“In this investigation you will determine the relationship between temperature and the reaction rate of effervescent antacid tablets and water. You will use effervescent antacid tablets and water of varying temperatures. Using the following procedure, record the results as indicated, and answer the questions at the end of the activity.”

3

Guided inquiry—Students investigate a teacher-presented question using student designed/selected procedures.
“Design an investigation to answer the question: What effect will water temperature have on the rate at which an effervescent antacid tablet will react? Develop each component of the investigation including a hypothesis, procedures, data analysis, and conclusions. Implement your procedure only when it has been approved by your teacher.”

4

Open inquiry—Students investigate topic-related questions that are student formulated through student designed/selected procedures.
“Design an investigation to explore and research a chemistry topic related to the concepts we have been studying during the current unit on chemical reactions. Implement your procedure only when it has been approved by your teacher.”

Table 1: Levels of Inquiry (Bell et al. 2005, p.33)

Inquiry learning has also become confused with tasks that are merely ‘fact finding’. Gordon (1999) (as cited in Donham 2008, p.1) characterized this problem as “no-inquiry-learning” and stated that reporting has masqueraded as researching for so long that the terms are used interchangeably. However, Inquiry as defined by Kuhlthau et al.(2007,2) is an;

“Approach to learning whereby students find and use a variety of sources of information and ideas to increase their understanding of a problem or issue. It espouses investigation, exploration, search, quest, research, pursuit and study. It challenges students to connect their world to the curriculum.”

There are many parallels between Kuhlthau’s definition of inquiry and the description from the National Research Council 2000 (as cited in Quigley 2011, p.55) when it sets out the essential features of what the learner will do when inquiring within a scientific framework, including:

  • Engaging with a scientific question,
  • Participating in design of procedures
  • Giving priority to evidence
  • Formulating explanations
  • Connecting explanations to scientific knowledge, and,
  • Communicating and justifying explanations

It is obvious why science educators claim inquiry as essential to their curriculum, the concern amongst researchers however is that most teachers lack a practical framework of inquiry to inform their instruction ( Bell et al. 2005, 30). Research has consistently indicated that what is enacted in classrooms is mostly incommensurate with visions of inquiry put forth in reform documents, ; (Abd-el-Khalick et al., 2004, 398)and teacher understanding of inquiry, including its many pedagogical and curricular nuances, is still problematic (Quigley et al. 2011,55).

The indications here for me as a future teacher-librarian are many. The most important role for me in the inquiry learning process is to be a catalyst for change. To realise that change is a process that takes time and persistence (Olson and Loucks-Horsley, 2000, 157)and that teachers need to be supported through this process both on both an organizational and individual level. Authentic inquiry is an innovation in most classrooms and fortunately, an extensive body of knowledge is available in the form of research papers, books , video clips and kits that provide instructional guides, resources and personal vignettes about both the benefits of inquiry learning and how to introduce it in science classrooms.

REFERENCES

Abd-El-Khalick, F., BouJaoude, S., Duschl, R., Lederman, N. G., Mamlok-Naaman, R.,

Hofstein, A., Niaz, M., Treagust, D. and Tuan, H.-l. (2004), Inquiry in scence education: International perspectives. Sci. Ed., 88: 397–419. Retrieved August 12, 2012 from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/sce.10118/pdf

Bell, R., Smetana, L.,Binns, I. (2005)Simplifying Inquiry Instruction. The Science Teacher. 72 (7) Retrieved August              15, 2012 from http://www.nsta.org/publications/news/story.aspx?id=50983

Donham, J (2010) Deep Learning Through Concept- Based Inquiry. School Library Monthly 27 (1) Retrieved                 September 5, 2012 from http://www.schoollibrarymonthly.com/articles/Donham2010-v27n1p8.html

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. And Caspari, A. (2007) Guided Inquiry: learning in the 21st century school. Westport: Greenwood

Olson, S and Loucks-Horsley, S . (Ed.) (2008) Inquiry and the National Science Education

Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning; Committee on the Development of an Addendum to the National Science Education Standards on Scientific Inquiry; National Research Council. Retrieved September2, 2012 from http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~jossem/REF/59.pdf

Quigley, C. , Marshall, J.Deaton, C.Cook, M, & Padilla, M.(2011) Challenges to

Inquiry Teaching and Suggestions for How to Meet Them Science Educator; 20 (1) 55-61 Retrieved August 12, 2012 from http://www.eric.ed.gov.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=EJ940939 

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Standard

My literature search has resulted in me focusing on three main areas.

  • Projects specifically involving the design and building of a pushcart (my ILA project)
  • Inquiry learning in science or design technology in primary schools
  • The role of the teacher-librarian in assisting with inquiry learning projects.

My bibliography combines resources from each of these three focus areas.

Abd-El-Khalick, F., BouJaoude, S., Duschl, R., Lederman, N. G., Mamlok-Naaman, R.,

Hofstein, A., Niaz, M., Treagust, D. and Tuan, H.-l. (2004), Inquiry in science education: International perspectives. Sci. Ed., 88: 397–419.

This set of papers from an international symposium discuses issues directly relating to inquiry learning within science. It looks at issues in the light of inquiry both as means (i.e., inquiry as an instructional approach) and as ends (i.e., inquiry as a learning outcome). Although it is disscusses secondary science classrooms I thought it would be give an excellent over arching view of inquiry-learning from a variety of countries. As a teacher-librarian I was particularly interested in the section: ” Images of the enactment of inquiry in the curriculum, curricular materials, classroom instruction, and assessment practices” as I thought this would be useful for making recommendations for future practice when analysing my ILA.

Beattie, G. & Ryan, F (1994) Technology, Transport ,Energy And The Environment …

Today and Tomorrow. Into The Future:-an integrated technology, science and environmental education kit. The Victorian Country Education Project.

Despite the age of this kit I thought it contained useful information relating to the teaching of inquiry based projects. Particularly interesting was the initial framing up approach to a topic that was the same as our questionnaire for CLN650 and that which we did with our ILA:- What do you already know, What would you like to know etc. There are also well set out activities that are specific and appropriately worded for primary school level that could be a model for teachers to use and support what I will include as part of my recommendations for future practice in the analysis of my ILA.

Donham, Jean.(2011) Assignments Worth Doing. School Library Monthly, 28 (2), 5-7 3

Donham examines how school librarians need to be vigilant in challenging students on a deep cognitive level. Even though it is not specifically about science it can be easily related to inquiry learning across all curriculum areas. Of particular interest was her emphasis on moving beyond “superficial fact-gathering” tasks which has been a topic of discussion amongst the CLN650 group in relation to ILAs. She discusses a guide to deep learning through inquiry whichschool librarians can use with teachers to design assignments and assessment criteria that I thought would be

Egret584 (2010) Best Practices; 2nd Grade Inquiry Based Science. Youtube video clip

            This video documents second grade students who are adept at applying higher level thinking skills to the scientific process. It is an excellent example of inquiry learning which includes examples of question types and questioning techniques; generating hypotheses; experimentation; recording observations and reporting results. These are all processes I observed students in my ILA completing and the comparison of the different approaches is valuable. It also demonstrates using students as experts, and collaboration which came up as points for consideration after the ILA students completed their first questionnaire. So, not only does it parallel aspects of my ILA it also addresses inquiry learning in the science classroom, a very valuable resource.

Kids’ Design Challenge (2012) http://www.kdc.nsw.edu.au/index.html

This resource is the web page for the Kids’ Design Challenge which runs the Technopush Project which is the topic for my ILA. It provides all the details necessary to be involved in the project including registration, tips, expert help and showcases from previous years. A detailed teaching plan is sent out once you have registered.

McLean, Ian (2011) Taking the plunge: guided inquiry, persuasion and the research river at

Penrith Public School. Scan; 30 (4), 26-35

McLean’s motivation in writing this article was to present his findings from a guided-inquiry collaborative journey at Penrith Public School. He had initially attended professional development sessions with Ross Todd and Lee FitzGerald in 2010 and was keen to implement more fully Carol Kuhlthau’s ‘Model for the information search process’ (ISP) at his school. This related directly to everything we had been reading and discussing with regards to inquiry learning. Also the content and context was Australian primary school specific relating to the K-6 syllabus. From a teacher-librarian perspective I was very interested to see how he had used the SLIM toolkit and a weblog and generally incorporated the use of ICTs into the inquiry learning process.

Milne, Ian (2010) A Sense of Wonder, Arising from Aesthetic Experiences, Should Be

the Starting Point for Inquiry in Primary Science Science Education International, 21 (2) 102-115


Milne in this article expresses his personal belief in the need for both students and teachers to operate from a point of wonder or awe when learning /teaching about science in primary school. What was pertinent to my research however was a table provided that introduces, “Creative Exploration” an inquiry based model for teaching and learning in primary science. He describes this as a co constructive inquiry learning approach. Although this probably requires further exploration I thought the distinction he made between “doing science and learning science” was pertinent to my ILA.

Prevost, E.J. (2010) Developing a culture of inquiry in elementary schools:

The role of the teacher-librarian.

Prevost’s masters’ dissertation provides an overview of Inquiry-Learning and outlines her personal journey towards it. It examines the inquiry process in elementary (primary) schools and the benefits to all the educational stakeholders. She also outlines what is required to develop a culture of inquiry-based learning and how best to collaborate with others. It is written in a reader friendly style and is very suitable to my aim of learning how to better assist others with inquiry-learning in their classrooms as it is almost like a ‘how to’ manual. The background story of her personal journey is also very appealing as aspects of it mirror my own.

Quigley, C. , Marshall, J.Deaton, C.Cook, M, & Padilla, M.(2011) Challenges to

Inquiry Teaching and Suggestions for How to Meet Them Science Educator; 20 (1) 55-61

This peer reviewed article claims inquiry has been a goal of science education for decades. Of particular interest to me was how it described four major challenges facing teachers as they implement inquiry based teaching:-“including measuring the quality of inquiry, using discourse to improve inquiry, pursuing the goal of teaching content through inquiry methods, and learning how to effectively manage an inquiry classroom.” The authors go on to provide an analysis of these issues and provide implementation strategies.

Vassila, H., King, J., & Foster, L. (2008) How can teacher librarians support technology

learning? Scan 27 (2), 15-18

This article ticks all the boxes for my requirements; it discusses specifically how science and technology is best taught within the NSW syllabuses and describes the methodology of project work that is used. This process of teaching fits in with inquiry-based learning models and the part that particularly caught my eye in the abstract was, “teacher librarians are valuable teaching partners to enhance technology learning… especially when students are exploring, defining, analysing and organising information for the project task.” The specific skills that a teacher-librarian can bring to the classroom are described and valued.

Yax, Kerrie (2012) Kerrie Yax’s followed topic posts. Scoop.it

This Scoop.it! website site is an amazing link to a large variety of resources, articles, lesson plans, webinars and tools that will prove useful not only for this course of study but also for my teaching practice. It covers such a wide variety of topics relevant to both inquiry-learning and science including:- Flipping and Expanding Bloom’s Taxonomy; 100 Coolest Science Experiments on YouTube; Mrs. Yax’s Science Websites; Curiosity in the classroom; Visual Interactive Blooms of web 2.0 tools; Project-based learning. And the list could continue. This is probably the most valuable resource I have found that I will continue to use into the future.

Aside

WEEK 2. The information learning activity (ILA).

Context:

I am currently working as a casual teacher so I will be observing another teacher implement the ILA. The teacher is both the teacher-librarian and science specialist at a small NSW primary school and for this project she is working with a combined 4/5/6 class of 20 students. They have decided to enter The Kids Design Challenge and design, build and race a pushcart.

The teacher has this class one full day each week (as part of RFF arrangements) and the project will most likely run for 15weeks. I became aware of the project when I was on the class as a casual teacher and I was very interested in the complex topics they were researching for an upper primary level class.

 

Learning outcomes for the ILA:

The Kids’ Design Challenge (KDC) is the initiative of Technology in Primary Schools (TiPS) network, and the blurb from the website describes the project as “supporting students to work collaboratively as they research needs and issues and devise design ideas and solutions.”

The KDC addresses learning outcomes in Science & Technology at Stage 3:

  • Investigating (Inv 3.7), Design and making (DM 3.8) and Using technology (UT3.9)
  • Physical Phenomena (PP3.4) and Products and service (PS3.5)

The aim is to promote and use design and technological know-how as a means of solving problems related to our world. Designing and making is well integrated with investigating as students explore and clarify ideas and solutions.

  • The challenge involves students in investigating a topical problem or issue and generating real-life solutions.
  • Classes submit their final proposals to the project to receive feedback from industry practitioners and expert teachers.
  • Outstanding achievements of students are celebrated and showcased on the Kids’ Design Challenge web site and at the celebration event for each Challenge.
  • Online communications are used to bring students in touch with each other and with the wider community, providing access to expert advice  from industry professionals.
  • Online support is also available for teachers in implementing activities with their classes. Requirements for design solutions are clearly set out for teachers.”

In addition, the Challenge will provide strong links with the Stage 3 Key Learning Areas of:

  • English: talking & listening, reading and writing factual texts
  • Mathematics: especially in number, measurement and space
  • PDHPE: especially related to nutrition, fitness and endurance, road safety, personal safety, sun safety, social skills, teamwork.

More information about the KDC can be found on the separate blog page “Pushcart Challenge”.

ILA Design:

The KDC has been extensively designed so that teachers can decide to do the project and pick it up and run with it straight away. There is extensive support material available for each stage of the project and it is set out in a series of steps that follow the example below.

STEP 1: Engaging Students – Getting Started

  • Introduce the KDC-NRMA TechnoPush Challenge Scenario and the Design brief
  • Highlight the major features and requirements
  • Build the context – explore leisure activities over time and in different cultures
  • Focus on pushcarts: identify what we already know and what we need to find out
  • Introduce and display the KDC-NRMA TechnoPush Challenge Designspecifications
  • Develop the class/group criteria for success.

Reflection questions:

Students:

  • What is the purpose of the task?
  • What do we need to do to achieve our goal?
  • How did we establish the design criteria for the pushcart?
  • What did we learn?

Teacher:

  • Could students clarify the task?
  • Do they understand the purpose of the task?
  • Do students understand the requirements of the challenge?
By the end of STEP 1 students will have established criteria and requirements for their design of the pushcart.

STEP 2: Investigating phase – Investigating to inform design

STEP 3: The Design Phase – Generating, refining and selecting ideas for the class pushcart

STEP 4: Producing the pushcart and preparing for the Challenge event

STEP 5: Evaluating Phase: evaluating and celebrating design achievements

STEP 6: Showcase your class’ achievements!

Most of my observations for the ILA will occur during steps 4 through to 6.

THE INFORMATION LEARNING ACTIVITY.