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Simcoe County DSB 2015-16

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Leveraging Technology for Trans-disciplinary Inquiry

Inquiry Question:

If we, as a community of learners have authentic and relevant learningSCDSB Photo opportunities to solve problems that integrate math, science, technology and the arts, then we will deepen our understanding of concepts in multiple subject areas and demonstrate creativity, critical thinking and conceptual understanding in learning and life.

Project Description:

As part of our Board vision to "reach every student" through differentiated instruction and assessment that is responsive to the unique needs of the learner to support high achievement, we are continuing to explore integrated learning. As an extension of our earlier work (Math, Science, and Technology integration) we are also interested in the integration of the Arts. Our project will enable teachers to collaborate to provide students with opportunities to engage in self-directed inquiry projects that integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines.

The SCDSB Math Action Plan outlines the importance of positive math mindsets, authentic tasks, multiple entry points, student voice/choice, and creative exploration to improve numeracy instruction. Technology-enabled inquiry learning provides an excellent vehicle to support all of these practices. We can further support teachers in our LC Project with a rich bank of ‘Numerartsy’ resources created by SCDSB teachers as part of a large collaborative inquiry to support mathematics instruction through Arts integration.

SCDSB imageInquiry learning environments engage students in authentic reading, writing, and oral language tasks. This type of learning compels students to select appropriate reading materials, communicate with purpose to an audience, critically analyse multiple forms of media, and express their thinking clearly as they collaborate with their peers. Students who publish digital content for authentic audiences will be motivated to improve the quality of their work. Strategies from the Adolescent Literacy Guide specific to questioning and metacognition can help teachers support students’ progress through inquiry projects.

We would like to continue to foster opportunities for our teachers to share, discuss, reflect and provide feedback to one another in an online community to enrich teacher collaboration. We will be utilizing GAFE to facilitate the sharing and collaboration between staff and students at multiple sites. We will review processes and procedures, identify the expectations of its use, and coordinate release dates to ensure that planning (discussions, resource sharing, professional learning, etc) is collaborative.

Alignment with Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement and Well-Being

“If we, as a community of learners, have daily opportunities to solve problems, supported by technology-enabled learning environments, essential practices and learning skills, then we will demonstrate creativity, critical thinking and conceptual understanding in learning and life.” (SCDSB BIPSA)

Transdisciplinary, inquiry-based learning offers students an opportunity to solve rich problems in environments that supports differentiation based on student needs. Students who are engaged in solving relevant problems will be challenged to think creatively and critically on a regular basis. The inquiry process necessitates continuous feedback from teachers and peers that will help support each student’s individual learning needs. Ultimately we are working to foster students’ capacity over time to be their own best assessors.

“If we, as a community of learners, have daily opportunities to read, write and communicate using critical literacy skills in technology-enabled learning environments, then we will demonstrate creativity, critical thinking and develop our voice in learning and life.” (SCDSB BIPSA)

“If we, as a community of learners, have daily opportunities to contribute to a whole school approach which promotes well-being, high expectations, equity and inclusion, digital citizenship and positive school climate, then all learners will see themselves in the curriculum and the culture of their school and community” (SCDSB BIPSA)

The holistic, inquiry-based approach we have described is rooted in student voice and choice. The opportunity for an authentic audience will encourage students to set high expectations for themselves when they share their learning. The inquiry process values assessment through observations, conversations and products to foster a culture where students view failures as opportunities for growth.