"Exemplary Learning and Teaching Posters - CSS"

The ConnectEd Canada Conference was an overwhelming success!

Here is the recipe for those who want to plan a conference:

1. Run the first day in a great school, with classes in session and with student tour guides.

2. Invite presenters who want to have a conversation rather than do a presentation.

3. Provide ample time between sessions for conversations to continue.

4. Make digital conversations/social media conversations the expectation and the norm.

I’m sure Neil Stephenson, Erin Couillard, and George Couros did a lot more than that, but these 4 things really made the conference work!

I shared a summary and some tweets, after the first day. And now I’ll share quotes from a couple other blog posts to set the tone of the event. And then I’ll share some amazing resources from the Calgary Science School, from some of the sessions I attended, and from research I’ve done for our Inquiry Hub.

Brian Harrison said,

…We’ve shared some wonderful ideas here, we have supported and felt both support and comfort. We have taken a break from the isolation that many feel as we challenge the status quo and work to re-vision public education.

But, it is clear to me that we cannot sustain a great system of public education by rewarding those in our schools and systems who do not innovate at the cost of those who do.

As my colleague @thecleversheep reminds us, we are fireflies in a jar who have happily gathered for a few days to share some warmth and light.  The networks we have created through our tweets and blogs not only sustain us in these efforts, they help us deepen and extend the work that we need to do to move forward.

George Couros said,

…We knew that if this was just another “conference” we probably have failed.  But if we can all use and continue to build upon the “wisdom of the room” and push each other to get better continuously we will have so much more.

If you are looking for the answer to education reform, it does not lie in any type of pedagogy or technology.  It lies within people.  People that want to make a difference in the lives of children.  People that know if schools need to get better, we as individuals need to get better. 

And with that, I now share some resources with you… these are for sharing, discussing, and questioning. They are conversation starters between colleagues in schools and students in classrooms. If there was a common theme for the conference it was about the power of collaboration. Attempting to use these resource in isolation is a recipe for frustration and exhaustion. Together, ‘we’ are much smarter, more effective, potent.

Connect! – The Professional Learning Journal of the Calgary Science School. Follow along as the staff at CSS continue to learn and share.

Discipline-Based Inquiry Rubric – from The Galileo Educational Network. It takes a while for planning with this rubric to become a habit of mind.

Exemplary Learning and Teaching posters – These are in every classroom at CSS, and the students and staff live and breathe these concepts! Here is the CSS blog post on this!

Exemplary Collaboration – Staff at CSS have just developed this!

Examining Student Work: A Collaborative Inquiry into Exemplary Teaching and Learning produced by the Calgary Science School.

Calgary Science School Strategic Plan 2011/2012 – “Centre of Exemplary Teaching and Learning through Collaboration, Research and Innovation”

"Inquiry at CSS"

Work that Matters: This guide is for teachers. It explains how to design and run projects for students that begin with an enquiry and end with a tangible, publicly exhibited product.

Introduction to Inquiry Based Learning: A great website by Neil Stephenson, with excellent examples from CSS!

Points of Inquiry: A Framework For Information Literacy and The 21st Century Learner.

Blog posts by Shelley Wright: Life in a Technology Embedded Classroom: Science, Life in a 21st-Century English ClassWhy I Love Project Based Learning and Flipping Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Blog posts by Chris Wejr: Power of a Student-Designed Curriculum and 6 BIG Assessment (AFL) Practices.

A Step-by-Step Guide to the Best Projects: But we are in Canada, so instead of #1. State Standards, think ‘Learning Outcomes’.

Inquiry learning – from knowledge to understanding – 6 minute video by Vic Hygate – How do you use inquiry learning to move from knowledge to understanding?

Environmental Inquiry: A Pedagogical Framework on Natural Curiosity – a resource for teachers.

Challenge Based Learning: Take action to make a difference.

Describing 16 Habits of Mind: “Habit of Mind” means having a disposition toward behaving intelligently when confronted with problems, the answers to which are not immediately known.

Next Steps: Creating a focus on Learning. Good notes on the value of culture.

"DeFour - Critical Questions"

And now, THE MOST IMPORTANT RESOURCE! Unfortunately, it is one that I can not share with you here because it is something you have to collectively create in your school.  It is:

an inquiry driven,

collaborative culture,

that is pervasive throughout your school,

including parents, administrators, teachers and students.

I think that the secret ingredient to this is structured collaboration time. I’ve written before about the need for us to figure out three important shifts in what a teacher’s day looks like. The Calgary Science School has these figured out.


1. Time- Pro-D, preparation, planning & play – CSS has significantly more prep & planning time than most public schools could ever afford, but I do think we have to start being creative about the amount of time teachers spend in front of students vs how much time they spend collaborating and learning… after all, we are just as much in the learning business as we are the teaching business.

2. Co-teaching & collaboration opportunities
– I think this is where we can start to get really creative in two ways: First, we need to get two teachers in the same room, including doubling up the classes and having 50-60 students in a larger room, or in learning commons. Secondly, blended learning models could mean that at times, one teacher has 2 classes that are using a technology guided program or activity, freeing up extra time for other teachers to meet. It is ironic, and unfortunate, that tighter class size limits are factoring into play in BC right when blended learning is going to push the envelope of continuous supervision of students in set classes.

3. Models & Mentorship
 – We actually have working models like the Calgary Science School to examine. At CSS new teachers are told not to plan anything until they meet their colleagues. New teachers aren’t handed the toughest positions, and they aren’t handed packages of work or set programs to teach. As Stephen Heppell says, “…you get ideas from colleagues, and from other schools, and… when your experience touches someone else’s experience”.

"bloom pyramid FLIP"

  Let’s all strive for an inquiry driven, collaborative culture, that is pervasive throughout our schools, including parents, administrators, teachers and students. Let’s work on it together, sharing our ideas and resources, and modelling the kind of inquiry and learning we want to see in our students!

9 comments on “Inquiry Resources from CSS and the ConnectedEd Canada Conference

  1. David,
    You’ve done a terrific job of gathering nuggets of wisdom from your personal experience at Connected.ca I can relate to just about every point you’ve shared, which highlights the effectiveness of the conference plan and the host site in setting a context for a common experience.

    Beyond that, I think a number of participants had another layer of experience – the social layer. A significant highlight for me is that there were many opportunities for friends/colleagues/acquaintainces to spend time in learning about one another. I’m not so sure that everyone took full advantage of the opportunity to deepen their connections with colleagues they knew, or thought they knew, but it is that connecting with individuals from across Canada that made the name of this event resonate with me.

    To that end, there are a few scheduling tweaks I’d recommend. 1] The tour was fantastic, and there was plenty to see, but maybe take full advantage of the first day by hosting a social event… maybe an unconference; or a random slide Ignite session during the afternoon. 2] I think the Saturday night speakers might better have been limited to 7-10 minutes each, allowing more time for the personal connections.

    Those are just a few ideas, but all in all, my highlights are in getting the opportunity to connect face-to-face with yourself and the folks you’ve mentioned above. Thanks for taking the time to share a summary of our learning. 🙂

  2. Excellent points Rodd,

    It was so great to meet you face-to-face. And yes, I took full advantage of the time, getting to know you, and others I’ve been connected to for years… while also meeting new connections that I know I’ll value for years to come. The social layer of the conference was so important for me! More on that later, when I blog about #HatEnvy 😉

    Your suggestions are great additions to #conference2.0’s that connected educators are hungering for.

  3. Thanks for all these resources and your thoughts about the conference–it sounds like it was a great conference (I am wishing I had been there!). You have linked to a number of excellent documents and resources about inquiry (including BCTLA’s new Points of Inquiry document), and I would add the Alberta Education inquiry curriculum document called Focus on Inquiry, which is a really important document for teachers in Alberta and clearly walks teachers through the stages of inquiry in a clear and straight forward way. You can get it online here: http://education.alberta.ca/media/313361/focusoninquiry.pdf

    Also, Harvey and Daniels’ book Comprehension and Collaboration is a great book about inquiry in schools.


  4. Thanks Joanne,

    I’m going to put Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action on my summer reading list.

    I considered the Focus on Inquiry, but decided that the High Tech High ‘Work that Matters’ and Neil Stephenson’s ‘Introduction to Inquiry Based Learning’ were more manageable reads to add to an already long list. Still, it is a good document and I thank you for sharing it here!

    I hope others will continue to share resources and continue the learning journey with me.

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