As part of our REL Network, each leader has taken on an Inquiry project. Mine is centered around student thinking. I have observed that many of my students are fairly happy to give the ‘stock standard’, expected answers in RE discussions and I would really like to see them pushing their own thinking more deeply and make those connections that will make their faith relevant to them in their lives. Our current unit is about the concept of relationships and whether having a relationship with God impacts the world.
To stimulate the students to think about how relationships work, I used the following clip:
Students were asked to post on our class padlet their thoughts on where God was in this clip. This is what they came up with;
There were some interesting thoughts posted but most were fairly predictable. I wanted them to go further so I grabbed my copy of Visible Thinking and looked for a thinking protocol I could use with this clip. I decided to use I See, I Think, I Wonder to see where that would take my student’s thinking. This routine prompted some really meaty discussion in the class as each student responded to the prompts. The wonderings were the most interesting with students coming up some surprising and challenging statements. We then got into groups and students collated their responses and came up with their top ‘see, think, wonder’ statements. The groups then set about creating posters. One student asked me “What should the title of the poster be?” to which I initially replied not to worry about a title. Then I realised that creating a title would make their thinking even more visible to me and the other students. Some of the titles they came up with were great!
So having stretched the students thinking, what next? I know I want to go further with them, and having had a conversation about this with our RESA, Deirdre, I have been challenged to now put something provocative before the students to challenge them to think about the situations where God is not so readily visible. As we are doing Natural Disasters at present, that should tie in quite nicely. I think I also need to go back to Visible Thinking and find some other thinking routines that will enable students to view the stimulus in a different way. And I also need to check in with the students again. I wonder if I used the initial video clip again, whether their responses may be deeper already having thought about it in a different way??
Tweeters in my PLN and in the ETMOOC community have been raving about Haiku Deck and how great it is to use and pleasant it is to watch. I had installed this app some time ago but never quite ‘got it’. So today’s project was to have a go and see what happened. As usual, the hardest thing is to decide what to create so I decided to collate and present some of the reasons why I blog, both personally and with my students. So here it is – nothing flash – just my thoughts – about the importance of blogging to me.
Twitter is a quick and easy way to share ideas, resources, successes and learning, and a great way to support each other in our role as educators. We can create connections with other REL’s and create a vibrant network in between meetings. Twitter is an easy way to stay in touch with one another, send a quick message of support, send out a request for help, celebrate a great learning experience or share a great new resource.
Sign up for a twitter account at www.twitter.com. Create a profile briefly giving people an idea about who you are and what you do so that potential followers can easily see why they should follow you! It is a great idea to add a photo – others are much more likely to follow a person than an egg! A photo also enables others to recognise you when you meet face to face. Download a twitter app for your mobile device so you can easily tweet when you are at PD, meetings or out and about. Start by following the REL’s listed below and see who they are following to get you started. Follow anyone whose profile matches your interests, skills or specialities. Keep your tweeting professional. Most of us are not that interested in where you are having coffee but we are very interested in a great new Web 2.0 tool you’ve used successfully.
Use #ERORE at the end of your tweet to alert your network to your message. You can search for this hashtag and quickly see anything that has been tweeted by the network. Save the search so it is easy to find.
Have a look at some of these links if you are keen to find out more …
At the planning day for our next zone meeting in Term 4, we were asked to reflect on our learning over the past two years. Although I have only joined the planning team this year, I have been part of the network for almost three years so I reflected on the changes in my thinking, knowledge and understanding during that period. Returning to teaching after a 10 year break at home with our children, the learning curve was always going to be steep, but taking on the role of REL accentuated the angle! To reflect, we used the notion of ‘before’ and ‘now’… Before I believed I may have been working in isolation as the RE Leader. Always well supported by the leadership team, I probably didn’t see how connected each of the spheres are, particularly in terms of planning professional learning opportunities for the staff. Now I know that we are all able to work closely together to support learning across all spheres. Being part of the AGQTP and CTLM projects has had huge benefits for our whole staff but also for our leaders. Having a shared understanding of good practice that crosses all curriculum areas has lead to more connectedness in our PLT’s and in our learning. Before, I gave lip service to the notion of being a life long learner but now I know with every fibre of my being that I am and that I LOVE learning. This has been sparked by attending Uni over the past two years studying for my Masters, and enjoying the many challenges this has created for me. I have genuinely enjoyed the conversation with colleagues at lectures, bouncing ideas off one another and challenging what we are presented with. I am also loving the opportunities for innovation and creativity that technology is affording me in my classroom and reveling in the enthusiasm of the students to express their learning in such a rich diversity of ways. My twitter journey over the last few months has also been enlightening and exciting. I have connected with some fantastic and truly passionate educators and shared professional learning anytime, anyplace. My eyes have been opened to many possibilities. Before I wondered how to make the shift to Inquiry learning in RE. It seemed like a huge task to lead staff towards planning our own, inquiry-based units rather than relying on Coming to Know, Worship and Love. With the enthusiastic support of the RESA from the Outer East Zone and participation in AGQTP, I began to see how the process might work and trailed it with the support of the AGQTP team at school. Now I wonder how we can keep the momentum up for planning this way? How do we avoid the trap of pulling out last year’s unit rather than using this cohort of students and their needs, questions and interests to drive the concept based unit?
What has enabled these shifts in understanding over the past three years? Attending Uni, some great Professional Learning, being a part of the REL Network and more recently the planning team, and the support of the Leadership Team at school. Most significant though is the support of my Principal, Peter. The trust he has placed in me and his willingness to discuss ideas and support me in implementing them has allowed me to take some risks, challenging myself and the staff in the way that we work, not only in Religious Education but across all spheres. Here’s to learning!