• Week 6-Enactment of Inquiry: Engagement of students, Classroom Management, Internet Safety and other Concerns
Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

Learning Outcomes








Jimvideo 1 (minor changes)   
Rosemary, Christopherno change   
Mike Farleyno change   
Jim: wrapping up the MOOChttps://docs.google.com/document/d/18ssELdd2QyydVrfjA-9GcTgEvfzYsMrygcDmq20Bnxg/edit?usp=sharing (include???)   

Discussion Prompts

  1. Lets discuss ideas for taking advantage of the diversity in our classrooms, and engaging all students in inquiry.  What approaches have you heard about or used in your own classroom?
  2. Let’s discuss the role of the teacher in an inquiry classroom, which includes various logistical and pedagogical interactions: lectures, managing transitions between activities during the lesson, facilitating student inquiry and small group interactions. What are some of the most important aspects of this role? Please feel free to ask questions of each other, and respond.



  1. Think about your current classroom. What kinds of diversity are there? How could an inquiry lesson take advantage of students' individual differences and highlight the diversity as an advantage of the community?
  2. Inquiry lessons typically include reflective and collaborative activities, data collection, group projects, designs, and the use of various technology environments. A primary issue is that of engagement, where students understand the activities, and are making progress with interest and enthusiasm. What can the teacher do, before and during the enactment, to help make sure students are engaged?

Inquiry activity project 

Final course project due (Lesson design)


  • live session vids
  • gallery walk of the design projects




SPEAKER: Hello everyone.
Welcome to week six.
This week, we'd like to talk and think about inquiry enactment.
This is the moment of truth where the rubber meets
the road, where you're actually on stage and things
are happening in the classroom.
I want to address a few ideas this week.
The first one is the notion of supporting the diversity
in your classroom.
You have all kinds of students.
How do we help make sure they all get throughout the process?
Second one is concerned with safety, internet safety, things
that could go wrong with students, safe practices for teachers,
and the ethics of using internet materials.
And third, I want to talk just a little bit about how to help things go well.
How do we make sure all the kids are being productive, staying on task,
and engaged?
That there's excitement about learning and that the right kind of talking
and productivity is happening in the classroom during the activities itself.
So first, let's talk about equity and diversity in the classroom.
We know that students are entering our classroom
with a wide range of background, experiences, background knowledge.
We talked about learning styles.
I don't actually believe those exist.
There's no cognitive evidence for them.
But many people do like to use that term.
And I do believe we have learning preferences.
There are kids who prefer to learn one way versus another.
And just how engaged the kids are in school and in class.
So we have this diversity.
And the question is how to treat that as something
more than just a problem or something to be responded to
but rather as a feature.
We have a wonderful asset of this diversity.
We have kids who are coming from different cultures
and who maybe have different perspectives on topics.
So how do we embrace diversity and make it a feature, not a bug?
An important challenge that's related to this is to do with equity.
The equitable distribution of resources.
That can mean materials, time, and opportunities to all students.
So if you have quiet students and you have a group project,
there's a real challenge in making sure that those students get
the most out of that design.
So I want to point out that inquiry itself
is very well suited to addressing these concerns or these opportunities.
The whole notion of differentiated instruction.
That we could by designing effective inquiry activities,
we can engage all learners coming from their own position.
That we can have kids collaborate with their peers and basically leverage
or benefit from the diversity there.
And that we can use technology to help scaffold students
and give students from different backgrounds or with different abilities
the supports that they need.
Some of the specific challenges that I can name
have to do with first supporting language learners.
If you have English as second language students in your class,
they may come across as being very good with the English language, very strong.
And yet we know from research that these students often
do fall behind or feel excluded from the academic language.
It's one thing to be strong with playground language or every day
terminologies, but we have many words and phrases and ways of speaking that
can make language learners struggle.
A second one is to support the diversity of academic perspectives
or inclinations.
You may have students who are very dedicated and hardworking
and those who are not as much.
And how do we embrace that spectrum that we will find in every classroom
and allow them all to participate and to gain from the experience.
A third one is to just know and be aware of
and respond to any issues that might be out there in terms of access
to computers at home or to support from parents at home.
We know that not all students have the same home situation.
And if we include inquiry activities that
rely on some work being done at home, we need to be aware of those
and hopefully find some way to accommodate them.
And finally, finding ways to work with that diversity,
to add that into your design, to give students voice, make learning personal,
and help them connect to their peers from that position
of their own identity.
So I'll just share a few of the strategies or approaches
that I have tried in my own work.
Basically, foremost is to help all students feel valued.
To share their voice and to have a sense of the value in the process.
That can be done through peer tutoring, where you give each student a chance
to talk to each other or to talk to one care about their perspective.
Or small group work.
If you are using small groups, to make sure
that it's not designed in such a way that one kid can dominate
or that another kid can feel left out.
So having roles in groups where each kid, each student
must adopt a specific role or prospective can be helpful.
Or if you rotate who gets to be in charge
of adding things to an application.
Another way that's very important is to use formative assessments.
To actually get some elements of the inquiry design
that captures students' ideas and their values.
This gives the teacher a better sense of where
students are in the process, what they're thinking about.
And then if you design the inquiry activities that essentially
take those ideas and add them in as resources,
kids are able to build on their own perspectives.
Finally, a good thing to keep in mind is that there are language supports
and language technologies out there.
And that by letting students have access to these during class,
whether it's translation support or dictionaries or other resources,
this can be very helpful and it can give the students a sense of being valued
and honored.
So you can speak with technology staff or support specialists
in your school board and find out more about what kind of resources
are there for language learners.
The second main topic I wanted to talk about today
is internet safety and ethics.
So first that technology and inquiry are wonderful ideas.
And they can bring new opportunities for learning.
But they also can increase vulnerability for students by letting them online,
by giving them more freedom and flexibility about their activities.
Engaging them even in self expression can lead to problems and insult
or hurt in the classroom.
We have an issue of the internet being rather uncontrolled.
And opportunities for accessing harmful materials or interaction
with people on the internet could have its own concerns.
As well, when we give students so much responsibility and autonomy,
they do have an increased capability of doing harm to themselves or to others,
to their peers.
Correspondingly, there's an increase in the teacher's responsibility
during inquiry.
It's already a much more challenging way to teach.
We have to keep so many things in mind and do the design
and manage the materials and the activities.
But now you also have to think about what
students are getting into, monitoring all their activities,
if they're staying on task.
Making sure that they're safe.
Making sure that you think beforehand about possible problems
that could come up.
Ideally avoiding those problems and not having to respond to them much better
than the other way.
So finally, that with all of this potential risk and danger,
there is an opportunity for the good, the benefits of inquiry
to be over shadowed or outweighed by the fear of what could go wrong.
So we often find school boards and schools that lock down the internet
and that make you have to put in requests for every application.
And even teachers, I think often to their own credit,
are hesitant to put their students at risk
or to open up these opportunities for students to get into these troubles.
I want to stress that this is perfectly understandable.
That these risks are real.
We know about them.
It's very difficult to design and enact this kind
of learning in the first place.
And then there's a risk that it actually doesn't even go well
or the kids-- it falls flat somehow.
So there is very good reason for teachers to be cautious
and to decide that it's not worth the undertaking.
This is one of the reasons we are so respectful of you, the participants,
and want to acknowledge just how much we appreciate your willingness
to think about taking on this opportunity
but also responsibility for designing and enacting inquiry.
So some of the specific challenges that I can name
have to do with, first, internet access.
A lot of schools use the net nanny or keyword controllers.
But basically, by giving kids access to the internet on their own devices
or on a school device, there is the potential for inappropriate content
to be accessed.
With a single entry of one word in a Google search,
we could have highly inappropriate content in our classrooms.
As well, contact with the outside world could include contact
with those on the internet who are looking to find students.
We need to be aware of that.
Further, that students can be very aggressive in their attempts
to find out information about their teacher
or manipulate a teacher's social media.
So there are concerns there about teachers protecting their own privacy
and being safe and secure in their classroom environment.
A second issue or challenge is concerned with phones and social media
in the classroom.
When we start asking students to use their phones and tablets
in the classroom, there's a very real prospect
that they may take this as license to use these devices
for a lot of other purposes as well.
And so we find the opportunity for distraction and misuse.
And we have to anticipate that.
As well, we know about cyber bullying and posting insults.
And some of the ways that phones and text messaging
can be used harmfully schools.
Finally, there's the issue of property rights.
This includes intellectual property on the internet.
Students like to poke around, hack, try to get into places.
And if we are asking our students to go and look for materials
and use the internet, then in essence, the responsibility
is on us for making sure that they don't cross those lines of permission.
As well, we have our own responsibilities as teachers
to understand the copyright issues and fair use
issues that apply to using the internet and the internet resources
in our curriculum.
In the face of those challenges.
I want to make some points about inquiry.
First of all, those challenges will apply and exist no matter what happens.
So if we do not give students positive, productive experiences
with the internet, with Web 2.0, with their phones and devices
in the structural context of the classroom,
they'll never get it from anywhere.
So this is an opportunity for us to provide opportunities
for such positive, productive applications
of the internet in our classrooms.
This can help kids develop a set of skills and knowledge
about how to use the internet productively, which they will
be using for the rest of their lives.
They can begin to see the web as a powerful resource and a source port
for addressing their real problems and not just this dangerous I
call den of inequity.
Second, the inclusion of inquiry, the inclusion of internet
and handheld devices in our classrooms gives a teacher
an opportunity to have discussions with students about these issues of privacy
and respect.
About the risks that are presented to them in the course of their lives.
So in essence, by including these elements in our curriculum,
we're able to exercise them and to use the various opportunities that
arise to have these very important conversations with our students.
Third, that the inquiry activities, as we've designed them,
allow for students to exercise and rehearse
their lifelong learning skills.
These are skills even as simple as keeping track of your password,
not sharing it with anybody.
How to make appropriate comments to your peers online and face to face.
What does it mean to search [INAUDIBLE] should you avoid?
If we don't practice these sorts of things, we'll never get good at them.
And this is a very strong argument for including inquiry
despite the risks that are inherent.
Finally, I think it's important to point out
that as teachers using the internet in our classrooms,
we have opportunities to demonstrate this idea of critical consumerism.
That yes, there are sites that aren't as strong as other sites or sites that
are actually threatening or damaging to various perspectives, but that overall,
there's a great set of resources that we must
learn to find the ones that are valuable, to discriminate
good resources from bad.
And you could even get into discussions about what
are the criteria for good resources.
What websites should you feel are credible?
A related topic to this is the issue of fair use or fair dealings.
This is something that most teachers have heard about.
It's essentially the socially agreed compact
in the form of legislation that allows teachers to use materials
that they find in print or on the internet or other media
for purposes of education in the classroom.
This is referred to as fair use policies.
There are many, many websites about this and many discussions about it online.
Here's a video of a website from the Center for Media and Social Impact
that is all about-- or at least they have
a major treatment of the issues of fair use for different kinds of instruction,
including articles about fair use in [? culture. ?]
In other countries, there are other policies and other laws,
often referred to as fair dealings.
So here's the Wikipedia page on fair dealings
just to show you what type of material is there, for example.
It defines fair dealings and then it goes
into specific detail about fair dealings in many different countries.
I would also consult with your school and your school board's internet use
Most school districts have very clear descriptions
of what is OK with the internet in your classroom.
Finally, if you're engaged in social media as a producer, if you have a blog
or you have a website of your own or you're doing something
with your students that are publishing materials online,
be careful about crossing the lines of fair use.
It's one thing to bring media into your classroom as part of a lesson.
It's another one to publish it on the web
or post it reusing somebody else's content.
So that could be a grey area in fair use.
So just to summarize here, first teachers
have to manage their own social media.
This includes your Facebook page.
If you have a normal Facebook page and you give students access to that page,
be very careful that-- well, just don't give students access
to your Facebook page.
There's too much that can go wrong.
Second, make sure you're managing and curating your students' social media.
So if they're collecting observations or photos or web pages,
you need to be right on top of that and watching all the content.
Make sure that nothing illicit goes up there.
Discuss the process with them and tell them that you're watching.
Make sure they know the consequences if they are caught doing anything illicit.
Often, this aspect of being monitored is enough, most often,
to keep them from crossing those lines.
Finally, I think [INAUDIBLE] really important to participate.
As someone who designs these media activities,
you need to be in there with your students.
You need to be in their websites with them.
If they're building a Pinterest board, you need to go to that Pinterest board.
If they're having online discussions, participate
in those online discussions.
So this is also to have meaningful discussions with them
about these issues, about safe practices,
about respecting personal space, privacy, security,
and just how good the internet can be.
So those are the opportunities that you have as a teacher.
And to mitigate or handle these risks.
And I think the basic point is that you take them head on,
you acknowledge them with your students, and you
make sure that all issues are anticipated and caught early
if anything's going wrong.
The third main point I wanted to talk about today is enacting inquiry.
OK, so the subtitle here, what could go wrong?
The answer, everything.
Anything can go wrong.
This is not about the issues of planning where
we don't have good internet at our schools
or I don't have enough curriculum time to inquiry.
Those are real issues.
We took those up in week two.
This is about I've designed this.
I'm ready to go, now what?
One question that I'm often asked and that I also
experience, even in this MOOC, is how do we make sure they're engaged? (delete)
I can design the best activity in the world that I think,
about how do I-- I'm not lecturing anymore,
I'm not in control of the room.
I've got them all in table groups or sitting there with computers.
How do I make sure that they're staying on task, that they are liking this,
that they're talking to their peers about the things
they're supposed to be, and that they're being productive
and don't get distracted.
Some of the students may not have-- teachers say,
they're not ready for this.
Or some of my kids aren't ready for this, some of them are.
You're not going to know some of those limits until you actually try it.
So this is a real concern at enactment time.
Another one has to do with technology.
Almost certainly technology is going to fail.
That is a very good reason not to use technology.
So again, this is why we appreciate so much those of you who are here.
Because it is risky to use technology in the classroom.
If it goes wrong, if something's crashing,
if you have too many hands up in the air at the same time,
you literally have to reel it back in and fall back and go to a backup plan.
So obviously, testing everything beforehand,
making sure that you personally have worked through everything pretending
you're a student.
But if there are limitations to the internet service or the support
you get in your school, this could be a very real concern.
And third, scheduling and calendar problems.
These happen every year to teachers' best intentions not withstanding.
Especially at the end of the year, you have
issues of calendar days getting lost to assembly or to snow days.
Maybe another lesson or unit that you were running ran long.
Or in other words, you suddenly find yourself without the time
that you needed to do a proper job of the inquiry design.
So these are all very real concerns that would threaten
enactment of an inquiry lesson.
Here are some of the approaches that I can recommend for anticipating
and responding to those challenges.
First, you have to do to try this approach to learn how to do it well.
You cannot take a MOOC and even if you're in the design team,
that's not going to be enough.
You'll have to try it first.  (delete)
I recommend small doses.
If you're planning a big inquiry lesson that involves using a blog,
for instance, maybe try the blog as a standalone first.
And just let kids try one activity where they're just adding blog posts.
So in other words, fold things in slowly.
And use the same thing multiple times.
So that gets both the students and yourself the familiarity
and flexibility with those elements.
Same with mobile and handhelds.
If you're planning on using them for a major project,
first try them with something more mundane
and something very simple in the classroom.
And that way, both the students get used to using it and so do you.
Second, this is always said.
Don't be a sage on the stage, be a guide on the side.
I prefer my own version of that, which is mentor at the center.
So you should try to find yourself out in the classroom sitting
at a table listening to students.
Talking to them about their ideas, checking in with them,
helping them to go forward.
So your role in that table group at that moment is to be a mentor
and to help them make progress.
Then you go to the next table group.
An important extension of that is synthesis.
By having those experiences at one table group and then another and maybe
a third and you're listening to students and you're talking to them,
you'll get ideas.
And you'll get important messages that you want to give to the entire class.
So at that point, you stop everyone.
I don't know your tricks for doing that.
But you can tell them to turn their laptop screens down or flip
their phones over.
And you share with them in a mini lecture what these synthesizing ideas
that you've taken home.
So these are some of the approaches that I've
used, that I've seen excellent teachers using in their classroom.
And I hope you'll try them and you'll develop your own fluency
with using these inquiry and technology elements in your teaching.
One final concept or strategy that I want to share with you
is what I call teacher communities.
I've been hoping for these and working on trying
to make them happen for more than a decade with some confidence
that gradually, they will be happening.
As social media have come in and we've all
become more familiar and comfortable with them, they have been happening.
These are professional communities of teachers sometimes focused
on a special topic area or [INAUDIBLE], mathematics, for example, or science.
There are many of these, now, online.
And you'll have trouble fine getting the right one
or finding any active one or good one to participate in.
So here's one community that I've been following.
I think it's a good example of some of the ideas that we're talking about.
It's the Ontario teachers resource and idea sharing community.
It's a closed Facebook group, meaning you have to request entry.
It's got 23,000 members.
So obviously, this is open to teachers of any discipline or any age level.
It's been very active and wonderful to read the questions and contributions
that teachers have made asking for advice, posting resources.
Advice on a math textbook or workbook.


They use the photos page or feature of Facebook to help share students' work,
to help share their classroom configurations,
assessments, and various images that can almost serve as a Pinterest board
for them.
They share files in the form of assessments and lesson plans,
a calendar activity that they use.
So again, it's been very, very active and a very productive social experience
for the teachers that are involved.
Hopefully, you'll be able to find a community that you can plug
into and begin participating yourself.
The purposes and roles for these are obviously-- an obvious one,
to share and exchange lessons.
Now that you've designed an inquiry lesson of your own, why hide it?
Why harbor it?
Share it with your peers.
Maybe somebody can take that lesson and turn it
into something that fits their own students
or maybe they can actually improve and share it back.
As well, advice and insights.
If you're having problems or there's a policy
that you're unsure of your own school, maybe you
can go online and get advice and get others' experiences
to help you make sense of your own.
Networking is always big in society.
We have LinkedIn now and Facebook and all these social networks.
I think teachers are beginning to network as well.
This goes beyond just discussing ideas and opportunities, but also even
potential job opportunities.
Sharing those around and being supportive of one another.


Finally, I think the idea of a teacher community
is one that supports identity.
You come to know yourself as a teacher by rehearsing in these discussions,
much as you have done in this MOOC.
And the online community gives you a place
where you can do that, where you can share and exchange with others,
you can have a feeling of membership and a feeling of importance
in your role in society.
Well, that's about it from my personal my personal video comments to you.
I've enjoyed being able to sit and share these insights over the weeks.
I want to add thanks from all of our group--
the six people picture in the slide have all put a ton of work
into this MOOC over the weeks.
These six weeks, but many weeks beforehand.
The other members listed there below have put a lot of time in as well.
I hope you had a great summary.
If there's another few weeks left for some of you
and enjoy that and good luck in the teaching and we'll see you online.  (delete)

  • No labels