Tag Archives: stephanie harvey

Inquiry-Based Learning: Content Vs. Coverage- SOL #14

SOLS button 2013

Here’s another installment of sharing from “The Art of Teaching Literacy” workshop in Hong Kong. I attended one of Stephanie Harvey’s sessions entitled “Inquiry-Based Learning: Content Vs. Coverage” and learned quite a bit! As a literacy coach at a PYP school, I think a lot about teaching through inquiry, especially teaching reading and writing through inquiry. Here are my notes from the session.

Comprehension is Core!

  • Students need strategies for comprehension in order to inquire.
  • Students need to learn how to collaborate in order to inquire.
  • Students are born thinkers. They come to us already doing it.
  • We need to teach them ABOUT their thinking.
  • We want to know what the text makes them think about, rather than just have them retell the story.
  • Live a curious life- keep a wonder/research notebook to model inquiry
  • One question leads to another and another…inquiry is never-ending
  • “About 75% of reading for EAL learners should be nonfiction.” Stephanie Harvey
    • We teach kids:
      • to be aware of their thinking
      • to think strategically and above all…
      • to recognize the power of their thinking- they have power to do a lot; don’t marginalize their thinking
      • to have a sense of agency- read Choice Words & Opening Minds by Peter Johnston- Stephanie says these are great reads!
      • learning is a consequence of thinking
      • that we use comprehension strategies so we can acquire and use knowledge
      • that we can turn information into knowledge by thinking about it
      • Information in—> then thinking—> and out comes knowledge! Without thinking, it’s information in, information out. Empower them to realize they have to do the thinking on their own in order to gain knowledge; gives sense of agency.
        • “Today’s new knowledge is tomorrow’s background knowledge.”
        • Use a common language about literacy and strategies.
        • Comprehension is at the CORE!- use inquiry in ALL subject areas, not just language arts
        • “The more worksheets the kids fill out, the lower the students achieve.” Zero studies link worksheets to high achievement! They require no thinking and they don’t allow for differentiation.
        • Alternatives: Think Sheets, graphic organizers, diagrams, post its; there should be nothing there until kids work on it. Kids are working out their thinking when they do this type of work. You know what they’ve learned and what they haven’t when you’ve read their Think Sheets, so it’s an authentic assessment.


Inquiry Circles in Primary Grades: Kids Want to Know!

  • Collaboration- research says you should have 3-5 students per collaboration group (3 up to 1st, 4-5 in 2nd and up), 6 is too many
  • “Wisdom begins in wonder.” ~Socrates
  • Inquiry should permeate the day, not be in just a few projects.
  • Inquiry Circles in Action by Harvey & Daniels- Great Book!
  • Powerful Learning by Linda Darling-Hammond- highly recommended by Stephanie
  • Why is the Sky Blue? By Sally Grindley & Susan Varley- great book to teach kids about inquiry
  • Stephanie likes books that have a title as a question.


Inquiry Approach Vs. Coverage Approach:

  • Cover- synonym is “bury”
  • Schools should fit kids, not the other way around.
  • Inquiry circles- don’t require kids to be on the same level, unlike Literature Circles

Small Group Inquiry Model– not linear, cyclical, can go between phases

  • Immerse- Flood them with texts, maps, online sources, images, DVDs, etc on topic.
  • Investigate- Begin to have enough information to ask good questions. You can’t ask a good question about something you don’t know about.
  • Coalesce- Pull together information to synthesize and address what you’ve learned.
  • Go Public- Presenting information

Four Types of Inquiry Circles:

  • Mini-Inquiry– takes a student question to investigate a student’s question; Rationale- authentic, relevant, answers questions fast, teaches research process, prepares students for more in depth inquiry, engaging, honor students’ thinking
  • Curriculum Inquiry– linked to subject or Unit of Inquiry
  • Literature Circle Inquiry– takes a regular literature circle, and then the students ask questions about the books, and then those morph into mini-inquiry circles
  • Open Inquiry– kids studying something they are fascinated in that doesn’t have anything to do with what they’re learning; if you only do it once/year, do it early in the year; research and reading standards can be taught easily


Inquiry in Pre-K/Kindergarten:

  • All about images (large photo calendars offer one of the best opportunities to find great images; use last year’s calendars for cheap)
  • Students ask questions about images
  • Collaborative-model how to work together/how not to work together
  • Give prompts to inquire
  • Responding to images by drawing and writing
  • Confer to find out what they wonder and think
  • Differentiate through responses and text levels, not the instruction
  • Don’t answer questions, always have them turn and talk first
  • Art is synergistic!
    • Highly engaged in art in class
    • Not just in art
    • Teachers don’t do it, they facilitate students’ work
    • Use the content to learn how to inquire, research, and answer questions
    • Essential questions are transferrable
    • It naturally reoccurs creating opportunities to transfer to other situations and subjects
    • Provokes deep thought, lively discussion, new understanding
    • Sparks meaningful connections


Four Phases of Inquiry:

  • Immersion– Learners construct knowledge as they go; Visual word walls help students make connections and gain understanding with the words’ meanings (use google images)
  • Investigate– When we learn something new, our thinking changes; Our questions lead to a line of thinking.
  • Coalesce– Response- “I learned, I wonder, Wow!”; Use literature to synthesize ideas; Begin to infer the big ideas
  • Take Public– Demonstrate understanding; Come to care about the subject; Share with others; Put learning into action; Audience interacts by writing new learning and questions based on their classmates’ presentations

Thinking and Curiosity Matter- SOL #13

SOLS button 2013


Three weeks ago I attended a truly inspirational workshop, The Art of Teaching Literacy, in Hong Kong. I had the privilege of learning from greats in the field of literacy such as Stephanie Harvey, Matt Glover, Sara Holbrook, and Michael Salinger. There was so much learning packed into two short day. Now that I’m back at work, trying some of the strategies out, and reflecting on all I’ve learned, I thought it was time to share some of my learning. Today’s post will focus on what I learned during Stephanie Harvey’s keynote entitled “Passion and Wonder Are Contagious: Why Thinking and Curiosity Matter in the 21st Century.”

  • Buzz words- 21st century skills, college-readiness, career-readiness
  • We are currently going through the fastest change in history.
  • Did you know…Google began in 1994? Facebook is only 5 years old? Twitter is only 28 months old? ‘Friend’ is a verb in the dictionary (2010)? ‘Unfriend’ is too (2012)?
  • We, as educators, have no idea what careers there will be in the future. We are preparing our students for careers that haven’t been invented yet.
  • For future careers, we know students that will have to be thoughtful, strategic, wonder/be curious, and work together/collaborate, so we need to prepare children for this.
  • STEM- science, technology, engineering, math; STEM is the area most careers in the future will be centered around.
  • Small group work- should comprise 70% of the day; Large group- 30% of the day
  • Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google says, “Teaching will be learning how to ask the right questions. I was taught to memorize facts. Why remember them? Now you just need to learn how to search for information and sort through the burgeoning data available on computers.”
  • Eric Schmidt also says, “Instantaneous access really changes your life. What never changes is the need for curiosity. What you really need to do is teach people to be curious.”
  • Kids are naturally curious in kindergarten, but by fifth they aren’t. Conventional schooling drives curiosity out of them.
  • The more you learn, the more you wonder, therefore, you should have more questions in fifth and twelfth grades than you did when you were younger.
  • “I have no special talent. I’m only passionately curious.” ~Albert Einstein
  • We really need to be having lots of fun with our kids. The most direct link to learning is engagement, thus fun.
  • Inquiry-based learning is learning in a way that the kids’ questions matter.
  • “Interaction is at the core of engagement.” ~Harvey and Goudvis
  • Students need to constantly turn and talk; kids shouldn’t have to listen for more than 5 minutes without stopping to process and talk.
  • How do you foster and nurture curiosity in your kids’ learning and get them to ask more and more questions? (examples: post questions up around the room, wonder wall, provocations)
  • We need to live a curious life ourselves! How can we do that?
    • Model
    • Ask questions
    • Care about finding the answers (online, books, interviews)
    • Be awake to new information and revise thinking in light of new evidence
    • Confer with others
    • Construct meaning through drawing and writing (notebooks)
    • Be skeptical
  • “The questions a student asks after reading a text are a better assessment than the questions that a student can answer about a text.” ~P. David Pearson
  • Always ask “What are you still wondering?” because this allows you to gather loads of information from their questions.
  • Kids need plenty of time to just plain read! Why is it that the kids who need the most time to read get the least? We OVER-instruct them! We pull them for this or that and don’t let them just read. Every child who is a year behind needs twice as much reading as on-grade level kids. Give them class time to read. Make sure to give kids what they want to read to ignite their passion.
  • Four principles of reading achievement and learning:
    • Volume– the more kids read the better they read (texts they can and want to read; “she reads, therefore she’s smart”)
    • Response– the more kids interact, the more they learn and understand (authentic response, talking about books, taking action, writing a letter)
    • Explicit Instruction– kids need both teacher modeling and time to practice (they don’t need phonics instruction if they can read, they need time to read; modeling and giving them time to practice, it’s different than direct instruction)
    • Purpose– readers must see reading as a meaningful experience (avid readers already have an intrinsic purpose; we need to help our reluctant readers with finding a purpose, focusing on their interests)

Stephanie ended her keynote with, “Smart is not something you are, smart is something you get. And you get smart by reading, writing, drawing, talking, listening and investigating.” I believe it is imperative that we offer our students opportunities everyday to inquire, collaborate, read, write, use technology, speak, listen, experiment, play, ask questions, find the answers, and have fun. Stephanie is such a phenomenal person to learn from; she is incredibly passionate about what she does and it is evident that she truly loves children and wants them to succeed. I hope that you learned a little something today. Please leave any questions you may have in the comments section, and I’ll do my best to clarify them for you.