Teacher and Teacher Librarian Collaborative Inquiry: Exploring Aspects of the Inuit Way of Life

By Ainsworth, Lisa | Teacher Librarian, December 2016 | Go to article overview

Teacher and Teacher Librarian Collaborative Inquiry: Exploring Aspects of the Inuit Way of Life


Ainsworth, Lisa, Teacher Librarian


Stephanie Kornbluth, grade 5 teacher, and Lisa Ainsworth, teacher librarian, embarked on a collaborative inquiry project at Great Lakes Public School in Peel District School Board, Brampton, Ontario. This article provides an overview of the process used in planning and implementing the project, as well as professional reflections.

The starting point for the project was to identify goals for professional growth and improved student learning:

1. Explore different collaborative coteaching models and be flexible about their use.

2. Document the success of various assessment strategies for an inquiry-based project.

3. Integrate components of the Ontario curriculum for social studies, grades 1 to 6.

4. Build the schema for grade 5 students regarding aspects of the Inuit way of life.

5. Strengthen the inquiry skills of grade 5 students.

PLANNING THE PROJECT

Collaborative Coteaching Models

A professional resource, Collaboration and Co-Teaching: Strategies for English Learners (Honigsfeld & Dove, 2010), offers various coteaching models. After considering advantages of each, two different models were selected. First, the One Group model was chosen for teaching questioning skills. This model allows for one lead teacher and one teacher teaching with intended purpose (Honigsfeld & Dove, 2010). Second, a modified version of the Two Groups model was chosen to teach the lesson on introducing artifacts and art prints. This model involves each teacher taking a smaller group and developing the same skills but with different resources or content (Honingsfeld & Dove, 2010).

Curriculum

The teacher and teacher librarian reviewed the social studies curriculum and grouped expectations related to formulating questions, gathering and organizing data, and understanding context.

Student Supports

The question-builder frame from Q Tasks (Koechlin & Zwaan, 2014) was deemed a useful scaffolding device for students. A rubric was selected and revised for formative assessment purposes, in addition to guiding students to understanding the characteristics of a good question. Some success criteria were developed with student input and written on chart paper to be displayed in the class and library.

TEACHING

Day 1: Practice Writing Questions Based on a Literary Work

Prior to the lesson, a short video on challenging vocabulary was made by the teacher librarian using Adobe Voice. The video was posted on the class blog 3 days in advance of the lesson so that students could view it in preparation for the first day. This initiative introduced the class to a flipped classroom activity and made use of a well-established classroom blog.

Then on Day 1, the entire class came to the library for a read-aloud of Mikissuk's Secret (LaFonta & Barroux, 2006), a story about an older brother and younger sister, which provided details on hunting and tools of the Inuit in both text and images.

The teacher librarian acted as lead teacher, while the classroom teacher answered questions as they arose. Students wrote questions using their question-builder frames, which they shared with a partner, noting partner response. Did a discussion occur? Is the question thick or thin? Did the student rethink their question as they read it out loud and rewrite or rephrase it as a result?

Students were then given copies of the book to examine more closely. They discussed their questions and then chose their best question. Using a class voting system, students posted their questions as thick or thin, received feedback, and suggested improvements from the class. Throughout the lesson, students were given many opportunities to assess their questions by comparing their work to the success criteria and determining the next steps for their own learning (Davies, 2011). Students' exit tickets reflected on their learning and determine what they might like to learn next. …

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