Nuggets from ASCD 14

I have a travel blog and when I journeyed to Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago to attend the ASCD Conference, I documented the trip on that blog. However, I cannot resist capturing some of the educational wisdom I gleaned from my time there on this blog. I guess I think of the two different blogs as the the physical journey (travel blog) and the journey in my mind (this blog).

My colleague and I started by attending a two-day pre-conference called “Engaging Educators with Data to Create the Future of Your School,” which was led by Victoria Bernhardt and her colleague Bradley. Here are the nuggets from that session:

  • The people you meet from around the world are one of the very best things about going to large conferences. I think it is important to take advantage of this networking because it really facilitates reflection about your own system when you listen to others.
  • It is very important to look at demographic, perceptual, system and academic data when making decisions. Too often, we focus on a single data set and limit our ability to determine root causes, influences and responses. (I know we have not looked at demographic data enough.)
  • “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” Abraham Lincoln. This was a huge focus of this session- moving forward.
  • There is a huge difference between compliance and commitment in continuous improvement. Our assumptions determine which side we are on. Therefore, discussing the why behind decisions as well and inviting engagement in information from which decisions are made is a must. Superficial compliance is not transformative. (I concur wholeheartedly. Compliance without commitment signals we have not done a good enough job yet.)
  • When looking at data, jot your thinking and connection-making as you go. The “in the moment thinking” is rich. First, wonder, question and wonder some more. Then, synthesize. But don’t move ahead before taking time to notice. (This is tough. We always want to rush to solutions without letting the thinking, noticing and connection-making happen first. We are always in such a hurry. I teach this exact same lesson to students in my art class.)
  • Having a strong process is essential for examining data and making decisions. Without a process, everything falls apart. Think about successes, challenges, implications for a school or system and additional data needs. (No processes = chaos.)
  • When facilitating data analysis, control the misconceptions. Be ready to step in and clarify when needed. (This reminds me of the same discussion we have around inquiry. There is a time to let things happen and there is a time to step in. Knowing the difference is the sweet spot.)
  • A good first step is to inventory the data available to a school or system. Then “clean it up” or make it easy to read, triangulate and reflect on.
  • “Your school is perfectly designed to get the results you are getting.” (Reality check moment.)
  • “Avoid random acts of improvement.” Ensure work is targeted and focused. (This happens so much in education. Good intentions lost due to lack of strategic focus.)

Our first keynote was Daniel Pink. I had read his book, Drive just prior to attending and was looking forward to his wisdom. This is what I gleaned from his session:

  • Teaching is persuading. Not only that, but it is persuading children to do what we want them to do instead of what they think they would like to do. In other words, it is no easy task.
  • Education has changed because we have moved to a place where educators have information parity with students. It is no longer a case of telling students things they don’t know. Instead, we are persuading them to manipulate the knowledge we all hold in various ways. (I hadn’t thought of education in this way. I think this is an area where we feel some discomfort as educators right now. We are used to having the answers.)
  • Remember, small wins cascade to other small wins. Aim for small wins.
  • There are six ways to increase your chances of persuasion. Tip 1: You can increase your effectiveness by temporarily decreasing your feelings of power. This allows you to empathize, which has tremendous impact.
  • Tip 2: Ambiverts are the best persuaders. There are studies that show that the most persuasive people are those who are both extroverted and introverted. Either extreme has less persuasive ability.
  • Tip 3: Interrogative self-talk is the most effective way to ensure success. Instead of saying to yourself, “You can do this,” ask yourself, “Can you do this?” After a question like this, you are more likely to prepare.
  • Tip 4: Ask these questions of the other person- “On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to…?” Follow up with, “Why didn’t you pick a lower number?” This way, the other person works to defend your position.
  • Tip 5: Context drives behaviours so make it easy for people to act. As Pink says, “Show people the off ramp and they will more likely take it.” Don’t worry so much about changing minds. Change behaviours first.
  • Tip 6: Explain why…even more than how.

Next up was Jay McTighe and Essential Questions. I have to explain that what I learned may have been different from others because we have been working on using essential questions in our division for years now. So, this is what struck me as particularly worth considering as a person who already knew a lot about EQs:

  • A good questions is like an itch – you want to scratch it. That is why finding the right question, whether students do it or teachers do it, is so important. (We have spent so much time on finding the “just right” question in our division. Once you find it, you know it but I think we under-estimate the brainstorming that has to happen before we find the compelling question.)
  • Essential questions require a defense. It is important that students understand that it isn’t just about the answer…it is about why that answer was given. (This is actually articulated on many of our rubrics.)
  • Essential questions should recur. They are part of larger understanding. (And they should recur authentically. Again, compliance or commitment?)
  • There are four categories of essential questions: Philosophical, Epistemological, Meaning Making and Metacognitive or Reflective.
  • Essential questions must be kid-friendly. They can be part of making this so!

The evening keynote was Sir Ken Robinson, who is funny and thought-provoking all in one! Here is what I learned from his session:

  • Life is chaos. It is a continual process of improvisation and anyone who claims otherwise is misrepresenting reality. As a result, few of us know where our life will head when we are in school. It is simply impossible. So, if we create our lives, do our school systems reflect this? Do schools invite this process for students? (And do we expect students to have made decisions too early? Are we giving them enough time and opportunity?)
  • In order for us to end up doing the things we are meant to do, we need to figure out what we are good at and look for opportunities to use that talent. To be “in your element” means doing something for which you have an aptitude and a spiritual energy (love). If you are in your element, others are drawn to you. The big thing is finding your element. How often does our school system overlook or marginalize the “elements” of our students? We have to help students find the things that they love!
  • The basics of education are not the core subjects…they are the four purposes (economic, cultural, social and personal).
  • There are two worlds that exist for every human – the larger world and a world of our private consciousness. Both are really important to the decisions we make.
  • Human beings are built with a tremendous capacity to be creative and think of alternatives. Creativity is not some special feature of a few select people. We have to foster creativity because all fields move forward by people contributing original ideas. What teachers pay attention to is what students think is important. If we give attention to creativity and innovation, so will students. (This makes me wonder what students think is important now? Being quiet? Handing in work? Getting stuff done? Behaviour is more important than learning?)
  • When students perceive there is one right answer to a problem, creativity and imagination shut down. Don’t let creativity be educated out of our children! (I loved the video he showed to demonstrate this. I even tried it with my art students and found that when they were allowed absolutely freedom, they were far more creative.)

My last session was with Grant Wiggins and John Kao, who were talking about innovation in education and specifically about their project: EdgeMaker. Here is what I learned:

  • We have still not arrived in education. Grant stated he has been engaged in education for a long time and we are still working on getting to where we need to for students. (Agreed.)
  • “…the idealism and passion of the young are one of the most underutilized resources on the planet.” This session communicated the belief that children are full and complete humans, capable of creativity, problem-solving and risk-taking. We no longer need to wait for students to get old so they can solve the world’s problems – we need to let them begin to solve them now, because they may, in fact, be the most capable of doing so. (This was a huge aha for me. Not because I didn’t know it but because, when stated so clearly, I realized we have some very huge assumptions in our society about children. I have said it before-kids are hugely tolerant of adults and our systems.)
  • Maybe it is time to facilitate and listen in different ways in the classroom. Maybe we need to re-position ourselves with students and the “wicked problems” they want to think about. Do adults really believe children can be innovative? Do we invite this nearly enough? We need to get students out of the bleachers and put them in the game!
  • We need to aim for self-sustaining student learning. If the teacher is solely responsible for sustaining learning, then the purpose for doing the learning is not nearly compelling enough. On top of this, when adults do all of the sustaining and then students move on to post-secondary, they are under-prepared to have executive control over their own learning. We have taught them to look to others for motivation.
  • We are living off our innovation inheritance. It is time to change this and one way is to let children innovate.
  • We also need to design units around wicked problems using essential questions. Let them be project-driven so the students can have executive control and the teacher can step back and let students think.

My colleague and I have already started to use many of the data pieces we learned in our pre-conference. It is so exciting to attend PD where the learning is immediately applicable. ASCD put on a fabulous conference and it was a privilege to attend.



Don’t forget to celebrate what’s great!

These days, Twitter and the media are filled with all kinds of political rhetoric, controvery and general commentary about education in Saskatchewan. This post is not about any of that. Instead, I wish to encourage myself and others to remember that amid all cries of a system gone bad, there are a number of people working each and every day, fuelled by their passion for students, who are supporting amazing growth and excitement for learning by children in this province. Let me share my journey around my school division in the last couple of weeks:

Oct 20131

A principal in one of our schools shared with me her approach to combining assessment and learning, thereby ensuring students achieve the desired outcomes in arts education. Firstly, yay art!! Secondly, the mindful consideration this educator gives to her practice is inspiring.

October 20133 October 20132

A fellow coordinator and I were invited on this field trip one windy October morning. The students were observing the local Canadian Foodgrains Bank Project Field being harvested. They were learning about the interdependence of countries and the impact of Canadian resources on both local and global economies. Local farmers spoke with the students about the project and the canola itself. This real-life example allowed students to make powerful connections and apply their learning to real-life contexts.

October 20134

All over our school division, I see examples of this – students asking their own questions. It could be argued that a question is even more important than an answer. Certainly, honouring student questions is essential for making learning meaningful.

October 20135

I spent an hour with these grade two students as they learned a new concept relating to patterns. It was exciting to share in their experience as each and every student made the learning transfer, using manipulatives. The dedication of the teacher to find just the right combination of guidance and exploration was wonderful to see.

October 20136

Inviting students to reflect on their learning and engage in metacognition is challenging, especially in K-2 classrooms. However, this class made “thinking about thinking” visible, proving that children are smart and their teacher is pretty great, too!

October 20137 October 20138

Student art always makes me smile and these two examples are no exception. Encouraging creativity and innovation is so important to brain development as well as the development and expression of personal identity. Our schools are filled with examples like these. Note that no two artworks are the same – the sign of great creative expression.

October 20139

These grade seven students were preparing for a re-demonstration of learning. Their first assessment had not gone well enough to leave the topic, so their teacher was re-teaching before the second assessment event. The students were taking the science concepts they had been learning and were connecting them in concept maps. It was clear they had learned the material more deeply as a result of the additonal time spent on the topic.

October 201310

On a cold Thanksgiving weekend, I volunteered my time at my husband’s school, installing their new playground. Not only had the school community raised tens of thousands of dollars for this play centre, but over thirty volunteers showed up to help install it over two days. The commitment of this school community brought tears to my eyes. Our communities care about children and this makes the work of schools so rewarding!

October 201311

My colleague and I hosted the grades 1-3 teachers in our division for three data response days last week. We will be having three more days next week for grades 4-6 teachers and then 7-12 teachers will follow after Christmas. Nevermind the time it took these professionals to prepare for a substitute teacher so they could come to these workshop days, but their engagement in the data and in the learning associated with it was a testament to their commitment to children. This photo shows an activation exercise we did at the beginning of the day, when we asked the teachers to reflect on their current instructional practices. We spent our time looking at the data around student reading and refecting on the strategies that offer the highest impact on learning. We then collaborated on what our ELA could look like to maximize learning opportunites.

All in all, much to celebrate and consider. Even when a “system” seems to be in turmoil, there are always people doing great work inside schools.

Preoccupied with the answers

I am not the first person to say that we are too concerned with answers these days. People are blogging about this stuff all the time. But I guess each time I read it and, in turn, think about it and apply it to my own work, the idea becomes personal in some way. So this is my take on our drive for answers in education…

Most things I do in a day are driven by questions: What should I eat this morning? Should I walk or drive to work? How can I get this idea to those people? How can I make this meaningful? Inherent in questions are answers or choices and making decisions is what much of our lives are about. But I am worried that we are spending too much time in the education field giving answers and making decisions instead of making sure we are asking the right questions. We are in such a rush to solve the problems, fix the kids, cut costs, improve results, that we forget that before you can have answers, you have to have the right questions. What do we want for our children? What do they want? What does it mean to live in today’s world? How can we become better, as humans? How can our education system support positive growth? It isn’t enough to ask how to report achievement or how to design a lesson. We have to ask Why report achievement?How can we foster authentic partnerships with families? When does learning become intrinsically motivating? How does it feel to learn?

I am just as guilty as the next person for being answer-driven. For three and a half years in this job, and before that, in my principalship, and in my work as a differentiated instruction facilitator, I have been all about the answers. Part of my own challenge is the weight I sometimes feel at needing to have all the answers. Despite knowing that this isn’t true or healthy, it is challenging in practice when my inbox is filled with people asking me for the answers. My workshops often seem to shift to the answers. I have daily conversations at the office about the answers. I read and read and read to discover the answers. And tied up in all of this is the consuming passion I feel for learning and figuring out the answers. So, I understand the compelling nature of the answers. However, I recognize in myself and on Twitter and in reading the thoughts of others, that sometimes in our quest for the answers, we lose the question. We have forgotten to step back and ask What am I really wondering about? What is at the root of my quest?

I have been playing with the idea of stepping back; far enough to see a question…and then stepping back again. For example, if I am searching for the answer to reaching a student in grade nine who can’t read, I have to first step back until I can see the question: What am I supposed to do in science with a kid who can’t read? Then I step back again: How can I provide the needed differentiation and supports while still managing a classroom and getting at the content? Again: What do I mean by read? What can they read? Step back again: What does it mean to learn? What factors impact learning? How can I address those factors?

I see this like adjusting a lens. If we start with the telephoto lens, we see lots of specific details and we try to find the answers based on our close up view…We need to shift the lens a little at a time, questioning our assumptions and our understandings. Before we come up with an answer, we have to make sure we have asked all the questions. I think we sometimes forget that not only is it our right to ask questions but it is necessary for getting at solutions that are impactful and sustainable. When you get right down to it, if we believe there is an answer to educating a child, then we are selling short both ourselves and the complex beings we work with every day. This year, I am going to work on asking questions. The answers will be better if I do.

Modelling for success in an art class

After last week’s dilemma, I approached this week’s art class with more structure. We were missing the five year old, so we were all able to fit around one table and set ourselves up for a day of acrylic painting. There were no warm ups; just preparation for working together.

I chose Tom Thomson and The Group of Seven as my focus. Their work seems to hold just the right balance of structure and “cutting loose” for developing painters. As I mentioned last week, I wanted to encourage movement beyond “school art” and this usually means I need to move some distance out of the students’ comfort zone. We started by looking at The Group of Seven’s art and discussing the kinds of things they chose to paint and the techniques they used to capture Canadian landscape. We had already been working with undercoats, so it was great for them to see them in use in works of art.

Together, we voted on the painting we want to try together. I narrowed it down to a choice between two where the focus was on brushstrokes and free movement as opposed to too much detail (again, I was keeping in mind the need to loosen up a little). We chose a Thomson and started by choosing the undercoat colour. I stated right off the start that they did not need to choose the exact colours Thomson used. What I wanted them to do was capture the “essence” of the work but put their own “stamp” on their piece. That seemed to be the right amount of freedom for them and they all chose a version of red or orange as their undercoat colour but no one chose the same colour as anyone else. Already, we had variety!

While their undercoat dried, we looked at Thomson’s brushstrokes and colour blending. We discussed the order we thought Thomson had tackled his work of art and decided that we would start with the sky. We used charcoal pencils to sketch the landscape first and worked on “mapping out” the picture as opposed to drawing it. We agreed that when we spend too much time on drawing, we feel sad about placing colour over top of our drawing. I clarified the purpose of a sketch and they embraced this quick draw approach.

T started to stress a little as the sketching progressed. She admitted she likes to control her art by choosing geometric patterns and subjects she feels able to replicate exactly. This “free and easy” approach was making her unsure of herself and she expressed her anxiety several times throughout the class. We talked as a group about the notion of art as being about risk taking and learning as opposed to controlling a medium by staying in our comfort zones. She agreed with this idea and kept working on her piece but only stopped expressing insecurity when she was 80% done her picture and could see that she had done something she was really proud of. This was the first time I had seen her actually excited about taking her piece home to show her family. Success! She took a risk and it worked out – the perfect formula for moving forward.

The rest of us worked on our pieces until done. We were shocked when we looked at the clock and saw that our hour and a half was almost over. The time had flown and every single person had been engaged the entire time. Their work reflected their engagement and there was an air of confidence that I hadn’t felt the previous week.

Reflecting back, there were many factors that shifted the atmosphere. First, I was working alongside them. I used “think alouds” throughout the process, sharing my own wonderings and challenges as well as solutions. We helped each other through some rough patches and had a spirit of collaboration. We also sat in a circle, which ensured constant interaction. They spontaneously shared palettes and colours they created. We were all working on the same thing in our own way and I was able to give more of myself to everyone just through proximity and shared purpose. I think that this needs to be an essential part of the learning cycle, even when everyone is working on different things – we need to have times built in to come together with a shared purpose and talk and think. Otherwise, it feels like I am just juggling all the pins and I don’t actually get to spend any time getting to know any one of those pins in detail. By working with them, I made myself vulnerable – I was learning with them, which takes a lot of pressure off everyone. Finally, every person had the freedom and autonomy to interpret the task in their own way. This is how inquiry was still honoured. We had the same catalyst for our art but we all went in the direction we wanted and we ended up with very different pieces when all was said and done.

Next week, they have requested to be able to choose thier own picture from the art book and work on it themselves. They are ready for “You do, I help” which is just great. I can hardly wait to see what happens!

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Is change always fun?

My thoughts today center on the correlation between the feelings we have about something and our growth in relation to that same thing. Yesterday, I participated in the regular administrative council for our school division and we were talking about change and growth inside schools. We seemed to float between discussion and clarification about desired approaches to teaching and learning (inquiry and engagement in digital literacies to be specific) and how teachers feel about these approaches. We really puzzled over how to encourage experimentation with new approaches when feelings complicate the readiness to try something new. This began to remind me of an experience I had five years ago inside a school in which I was a Differentiated Instruction Facilitator.

At that time, I was working on my thesis and I spent months exploring the connection between motivation and achievement. I was really interested in the results of a survey I had done at the time with 150 middle and high school students. I asked each of them to rate their feelings about school, their classes and learning in general. I then tried to correlate their responses over time, to the work our school was doing in the areas of differentiated instruction, authentic assessment and learning preferences. I was hoping to see an increase in enjoyment and engagement in school once we began to shift our approaches to teaching and learning. It turns out my study was too broad and the variables were too vast to come up with strong enough conclusions. However, this initial study led me to continue to ask students for their feedback in relation to specific teaching strategies we had tried and overall classroom experiences in rooms in which I was working.

I learned a great deal from student feedback in those years as a facilitator and co-teacher. First of all, I learned that students felt very comfortable being honest. At times, it felt like they had been waiting for someone to ask them what they thought. Their responses were often much longer and more detailed than I expected. Most of the time, their feedback positively reinforced the things we had been trying but there was enough negative feedback to take notice at times. I specifically remember the feedback we received in a senior math class when we asked for reflections just prior to the final assessment. They liked having two teachers in the room and really saw the benefit of having several formative assessments throughout the unit. However, they expressed concerns over having to work with their peers so much (complaints centered on others “holding them back”), on spending so much time on misconceptions (we dwelled on things for too long) and on allowing so many questions by students (again, things did not move quickly enough). I remember feeling a little defensive and defeated at the time. I began to question some of the approaches we had adopted. Then we marked their final assessments and the results really surprised us.

We had been working with a combination of students taking the regular programming and five who were initially working on modified programming. Throughout the unit, we began to feel that our differentiated approaches might just allow the modified students to try the regular practice and eventually the regular final assessment. On this final assessment, all students but one wrote the regular assessment and every single student achieved 80% or higher. We were thrilled, of course. However, I was most intrigued by the juxtaposition between these very favourable outcomes and their feelings about the unit. Why, when they had clearly done so much better than on past assessments, did they have negative perceptions of some of our obviously successful approaches? I am sure this relationship can be explained in any number of ways – maybe their feelings would have shifted if we had asked them for reflections after the final assessment. Maybe some of our approaches did not actually contribute to success and these were the approaches they had disliked. Or maybe, because we were relentless in our pursuit of high quality learning, students who had traditionally either “opted out” or achieved by solely “jumping through hoops” perceived our approach as inconvenient to their understanding of “how school works.” Regardless of the reasons, what I learned from that co-teaching experience was that people do not always feel good about the journey through new and challenging learning. Happiness is not always directly correlated to growth and change. When I think about my own personal experiences, I know that I am often very uncomfortable during times of rapid growth. In fact, it is this press against challenging “surfaces” that makes growth happen.

So, this leads me back to yesterday’s discussion at administrative council. I wonder how much we should fret about people feeling ready to try something new? I wonder what the balance is between asking people to dive in and patiently waiting for them to feel good about doing so? I wonder how growth and change happen in systems and in schools? I continue to observe and experiment with these ideas. I am quite sure there is no straightforward answer but I suspect we can learn something about ourselves from watching students learn.

Quit or continue? Teachable moments in art class

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Last night, we continued work on our textured canvases. Some students finished and others did not but it was a class filled with “teachable moments.” The more I think about learning, the more I conclude that hoping for authentic, student-driven, deep challenges while learning is the best way for learning to happen. If every thing a child tackles goes well and comes easily, I am not sure how much actual learning is happening. I suspect those moments are more about doing something they are already skilled at. It is nice to have those moments, too, but without challenge, growth really slows down.

“Mistakes are great!” I shouted. M did not look convinced. She had just declared that she was done her piece because she had totally “messed it up.” This is the pivotal moment, and it is not without anxiety as a teacher. It could go either way. But one of my biggest goals in teaching art is to encourage risk-taking, so instead of giving M permission to quit when the going got tough, I asked her why she felt she had messed up. She explained that she had added strokes of yellow and it just took over her piece. I explained that she maybe felt this way because she had chosen to add yellow brush strokes on top of purple and the combination of complementary colours might be too much for the eye and brain to handle. I pointed out that sometimes artists want to create this tension but it seemed to be bothering her, so she might consider what colours to work with to create more balance. We also got the opportunity to talk about the properties of acrylic and I explained that she could cover previous paint with new colours if she wanted.

The interesting thing about this conversation when I reflect on it, is that I sometimes worry that my open-ended approach to teaching art is not structured enough. I have moved almost completely away from “lessons.” I only “teach” when students ask for assistance in solving some of their art “problems.” I have fretted about this off and on, but on days like yesterday, I realize that we will get to the specific learning eventually but it has to be when each student is ready to receive a little help. I can totally empathize with teachers when they have the same hesitations with emergent curriculum and inquiry approaches. How can we guarantee kids will “get the required information?” I guess what I am discovering is that it will happen and, as teachers, we just have to be alert to possibilities each class. It is about watching and listening so we can discover when the time might be ripe for some conversation about what is going on in the learning process.

When M was done her piece (she spend 40 more minutes on it after declaring she was done), I could tell that she was pleased. I explained how excited I was that she had attempted something so new. She is very skilled at controlled representation and this was a departure for her. It was really exciting!

J also did an exciting piece but the focus of our work together was more about balance and colour usage. She is a little younger and I find that the younger the kids are, the fewer inhibitions they have built up. J was also in my studio last year, so she has become quite comfortable with experimenting. The challenge with her is to invite her to reflect on her pieces a little more. I still have work to do here because I haven’t quite figured out how to encourage this with her. She is always so excited about the next thing that she doesn’t want to reflect on what she has done.

Inquiry in the Learning Resource Centre

For two hours today, I worked with a group of librarians in our school division to introduce the concept of inquiry. As in past presentations, we explored the idea of inquiry through the process of inquiry. I found it so interesting to watch a group of adults wrestle with a new concept in a way that was equally foreign to them.

I divided them into two groups and I made sure I had prepared an “invitation” for each group to use. I invited them to define and claim necessary roles in the inquiry process and clarified the final product (an information bulletin for future librarians new to the Division). Once they knew where they were going and knew who would do what within their groups, they explored, generated questions (which they exchanged), generated new questions as they learned more and then explored some more.

As their “teacher,” I stood back and observed, writing down observations, which I later shared to stimulate further discussions. I redirected the groups when necessary, directing them to sources of information as their questions became more precise. Mostly I listened to their discussions about inquiry and their role in this process within their schools.

After they had sufficient, uninterrupted time to explore, we came back together and shared our findings and new learning. We asked more questions (which always happens when we begin to discover what we don’t know) and clarified. We also took time to “step out” of the inquiry and talk about how it felt to be engaged in the process (“It felt uncomfortable”, “I didn’t know what I was doing sometimes”, “I would think I had it figured out, and then I didn’t”) and related our feelings to those of students and teachers engaged in inquiry. We discussed why this may be a new way of exploring and why it might be both challenging and exhilerating for both students and teachers. We spent a great deal of time talking about the importance of inquiry questions that cannot be answered by looking in one place. In this way, we clarified the relationship between research and inquiry (not synonyms, but rather research is part of inquiry) and how we might continue to invite students to explore their own ideas and opinions. We clarified the difference between asking: “What were the economic factors contributing to World War II” (a research question) and “How do countries justify killing?” or “How do we determine the line between staying out and moving into conflict?” (strong inquiry questions).

Lastly, we discussed what this way of learning means for them in their roles. Many of our librarians work in small schools and the group today are both libarians and administrative assistants. We needed to talk about how they can support teachers and students within the realm of reasonableness. We shared ideas for adopting a questioning or wondering stance with students and encouraging them to think more deeply. We talked about the balance between print and digital resources and how they can complement each other and together, can teach student to be critical comprehenders. We also discussed the importance of working as a team with teachers to create learning environments to support inquiry.

Overall, the workshop was a good exploration and, as always, I left having learned so much as a facilitator. I continue to have a deep appreciation for the passion and commitment of the people working with our children each and every day.