Teaching as Inquiry

TAI is a catch phrase for the collaborative and reflective ‘stuff’ that often happens in a ‘whole-listic’ way – naturally and orally – with lots of conversations between teachers happening at odd moments.

Since any teaching strategy works differently in different contexts for different students, effective pedagogy requires that teachers inquire into the impact of their teaching on their students.
Inquiry into the teaching–learning relationship is a cyclical process that goes on moment by moment (as teaching takes place), day by day, and over the longer term. The process can be used by teachers or leaders, for individual or whole school inquiries. http://assessment.tki.org.nz/Assessment-in-the-classroom/Teaching-as-inquiry

Unfortunately I’m feeling stifled with having to meet deadlines and post things for others to see. For me, when you try to tie it down it ends up being stifled and stilted and not true TAI. I’d rather just work away at it – and blog here in my own space!

I started out looking at how to engage my lower students – the ones who lag behind, not just academically, but also in getting their work done. However I’m now looking at my upper cohort of students as well and looking to see what I can I do to engage them more and encourage them to explore and soar in their learning.

I decided to try doing a mix of big group and independent work with my upper cohort and I’m excited by the response from them – they are relishing working independently, at their own pace, and in their own space. This week I’m going to try giving my lower cohort some independent working time and space (and devices) – I want to see if this will give them an incentive to ‘step-up’ and complete their work. Of course they won’t be left to swim – there will be one-on-one time with me as usual but they will also have to work on their time management to complete the tasks.

The larger bulk of my class are a great group who love to work together in collaborative groups and I will take advantage of that with them this week as well.

I’m also going to revisit an old video that I made as part of my research and see what ideas I can garner to help me work with all my students.

It’s going to be an interesting week.




Just came across this quote today from http://teachpaperless.blogspot.co.nz/2011/05/best-thing-about-chromebooks-its.html

Thinking about it, the real importance of the Chromebook is not the vendor, it’s not the device, it’s the fact that it makes the predictionthat the Web of the future is not just a place to go look for stuff, or even a place where we can share stuff and network, but rather it’s a place where everything is done.

Exactly how I think about Chromebooks!

Using Sparkol Videoscribe

Over the past week Tara and I have been working on our research report – we decided to do it as a series of short videos – and have ended up getting a Sparkol Pro Videoscribe account to do this. While quite easy to use, it does take some time to create a finished product – especially if you’re wanting to do a voiceover as part of the video. We created the first two episodes in a trial account and iMovie, the third will be done entirely in the pro account (and iMovie for the voice over), and the fourth has been done in a mixture of trial, pro, and iMovie.

However, we have also seen the promise of using this as a classroom tool – not for the kids – but for us to create short snappy videos of concepts and ideas we want the kids to master. Here’s a short video about writing. All videos will be CC licensed for others to use.

To Chromebook or Not to Chromebook …

I’m just back from a month in the UK – mainly holiday – and visiting family and friends – and a conference (Thinking Digital UK) where we had the privilege to speak about our experiences of teaching using some of Sugata Mitra’s SOLE ideas AND to meet him as he spoke directly after us! Everything about the month was wonderful – we visited places and people and had a great time. Towards the end of the month we decided to invest in a Chromebook each – something we’d talked about doing but weren’t sure we could afford to. I’m so glad we did. I love mine.

  • It was very easy to set up – read that as I didn’t have to do anything in order to get going – any setting up has been for apps I wanted to try out.
  • It is very quick – I started both my Chromebook and my Macbook up at the same time – I was browsing on the Chromebook before my Mac login page had even appeared.
  • It is very unobtrusive regarding popups – I hate the ‘there’s an update ready’ popups on my Mac and am forever hiding them – on the Chromebook there are no popups just a little up arrow that appears in the bottom right hand corner so you can update when you’re ready.


  • Updating is quick – just restart and it’s done.
  • Backups are a piece of cake – it’s all cloud based – I got 100GB free for 2 years – not that I’ll ever use it all. (Mac backups are easy but nothing like this – and I get an annoying popup (this time saying I haven’t backed up for 33 days – the length of time I’ve been out of the country) which I have to deal with.


  • Offline docs/mail are automatically enabled – I’m yet to test this as I live in a wifi environment.
  • At school my Mac is connected up to the interactive whiteboard – the Chromebook gives me the opportunity to do other work without having to ask kids to stop their work.
  • All my work for school is in Google or Wikispaces – my students use Google Apps for Education as well – the Chromebook is all that is needed for that kind of work.
  • At school we print via Cloud -> no problems for the CB – at home I have an old classic printer at the moment – but have just managed to print via my Mac/CloudPrint/USB cable – but even if I couldn’t do that because I’m working in Chrome I could just open the file in Chrome on my Mac to print.
  • I can connect remotely to my Macbook and even run apps/programmes – handy if I’ve taken a screenshot on the mac and want it on the Chromebook – which is what I did with the two screenshots above!
  • Creating videos isn’t a problem – you can now create a webcam video live on youtube AND edit and remix it – fantastic project for kids to work on. (Or they can use the WeVideo chrome app.)

There’s a lot of debate about iPad vs Netbook for kids – how about a Chromebook instead? In a school environment (especially one like my classroom) this is all you need. A lot of time saved in setting up from my perspective. At home we’ve had the kids (16, 12, 8 – all boys) using it – they get their own login (their email accounts) and all their own settings – no longer do we have to log out of someone else’s facebook or email as it’s all contained within their logins. And because it’s cloud based they can access anything they do from any other computer in the house. Is it the computer to end all computers – I don’t think so – I’m still a Mac fan – but I love the ease of using this – because it’s so quick to start up I’m reaching for it before the Mac. I can see that it won’t be long before I just leave my Mac at school and take my Chromebook back and forwards. (OK – that won’t actually happen until next term since I’m still on sabbatical!)

So my verdict to the “To Chromebook or Not” is definitely give it a go!