Children invest their work with meaning, understanding and purpose and a portfolio provides direct evidence of a child’s efforts. A portfolio is a picture of growth, progress, creativity, reflection and continuity. In the process of making the student an independent learner and building a strong sense of self, it is important to press the pause button and reflect at regular intervals.
Given below are reflection starters compiled from various resources. These can be used to press the pause button to make students conscious of what, why, how and when they are learning.
After completing a unit of inquiry giving it a suitable title is indeed a good practice that develops creativity and critical thinking in children. But labeling this unit with the same title when planning it the next year, is that a good practice for teachers? Even for convenience, when teachers use the title to refer to a unit of inquiry they lose direction. A unit of inquiry does not relate to a topic. It’s a big idea, an enduring understanding that facilitators drive their learners to explore and relate to. Inquiry revolves around the real… real life, real feelings, and real happenings.
Guiding children to make meaning of their lives and the world around them does not happen if the focus is just one word or title. A title allows learners to assume facts related to the topic rather than explore. For eg planning a unit with the title ‘Energy’ verses planning a unit keeping focus on the big idea ‘Our use of energy has an impact on the planet’, will have an entirely different impact on student learning.
Steven Covey once said “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”. Inquiry approaches to teaching set the scene for learning that lead to deeper understanding. To set these approaches right, maintain the main thing. Evaluate your current situation, create a to-don’t list and practice the main thing daily. Drop all titles because every inquiry is a new inquiry!
“He who dares to teach must never cease to learn” John Cotton Dana
As 21st century teachers we can raise lifelong learners only when we are being lifelong learners ourselves. Taking ownership of one’s own learning in today’s fast paced world is one of the most important traits every educator needs to possess. Professional development for most of us takes place at fixed intervals at fixed places, designed and planned by those who may or may not understand our immediate needs. But with technology offering an array of tools that support every aspect of our professional development, we need to SHIFT our approach from teaching to consistent learning as well.
How do teachers improve their teaching practices to cope with changing times? Whom do teachers learn from on a regular basis?
While teachers have their own colleagues to turn to, they can use technology as frequently as they wish, to collaborate and learn and extend their circle of learning beyond the walls of their school.
This blog is an attempt to extend my own learning network and bring reflections, resources, communities, forums together for teachers to explore. Also, to encourage teachers to plug into a global network of like-minded professionals, who will broaden their experience and challenge their thinking on an ongoing basis.
The title Pry-maa-ry urges teachers to inquire by connecting with the wider world…