Tag Archives: Inquiry

10 Reasons Kids Should Learn to Code

Learning about Computational Thinking, often referred to as coding (which is really the “written” part of process), is a new literacy that is overlooked for myriad reasons: “It’s too hard”, “I don’t understand it so, it will be impossible to teach”, “It doesn’t fit into any curricular area”, “There is no math in it at all”, “It’s just not appropriate for little ones”. I’ve pretty much heard the gamut of reasons why this process, not dissimilar to Design Thinking or Inquiry processes taking placing in Making/Tinkering and STEAM environments, is not viable in classrooms today. The reality is that computation thinking is a YAIEP or Yet Another Inquiry Entry Point. This should be a comforting thing for most. Inquiry and more recently Design Thinking are processes have been used extensively in the STEAM and Maker Movements that has swept educational institutions. These programs feature pedagogy that empower students to take more responsibility for their learning pathway; directing their learning through questions and personal perspectives; try to find and solve unique problems that have meaning and importance them; collaborating together to makes sense of data collected; communicating with authentic audiences and experts to share and obtain information; demonstrate their understandings in unique ways. This is Computational Thinking at it’s best as well. But there are added benefits as well and the article highlights these beautifully….  (Keith Strachan)

Word Splash of Coding Words

10 Reasons Kids Should Learn to Code

When it comes to preparing your children for the future, there are few better ways to do so than to help them learn to code! Coding helps kids develop academic skills, build qualities like perseverance and organization, and gain valuable 21st century skills that can even translate into a career. From the Tynker blog, here are the top 10 reasons kids should learn to code:

Coding Improves Academic Performance

  1. Math: Coding helps kids visualize abstract concepts, lets them apply math to real-world situations, and makes math fun and creative!
  2. Writing: Kids who code understand the value of concision and planning, which results in better writing skills. Many kids even use Tynker as a medium for storytelling!
  3. Creativity: Kids learn through experimentation and strengthen their brains when they code, allowing them to embrace their creativity.
  4. Confidence: Parents enthusiastically report that they’ve noticed their kids’ confidence building as they learn to problem-solve through coding!

Coding Builds Soft Skills

  1. Focus and Organization: As they write more complicated code, kids naturally develop better focus and organization.
  2. Resilience: With coding comes debugging – and there’s no better way to build perseverance and resilience than working through challenges!
  3. Communication: Coding teaches logical communication, strengthening both verbal and written skills. Think about it: learning code means learning a new language!

Coding Paves a Path to the Future

  1. Empowerment: Kids are empowered to make a difference when they code – we’ve seen Tynkerers use the platform to spread messages of tolerance and kindness!
  2. Life Skills: Coding is a basic literacy in the digital age, and it’s important for kids to understand – and be able to innovate with – the technology around them.
  3. Career Preparation: There’s a high demand for workers in the tech industry; mastering coding at a young age allows kids to excel in any field they choose!

Tynker makes it fun and easy for kids to learn how to code! Kids use Tynker’s visual blocks to begin learning programming basics, then graduate to written programming languages like Python, Javascript, and Swift. Our guided courses, puzzles, and more ensure that every child will find something that ignites their passion for learning. Explore our plans and get your child started coding today!

via www.tynker.com http://ift.tt/2i2cGVZ

Jigsaw variant – Pulsing

Pulsing is a jigsaw variant that allows students to benefits from the “hive” mind, but also insists on individual accountability in terms of project and task completion.

I use pulsing a lot for research…. I have attached an example I used with a grade 7 class doing an inquiry on creating a fully functional island with government, a people, culture, population  centre, etc… .

My belief is that structures such as this address the following learning structure considerations…

  1. Student Voice
  2. Accountability
  3. Broadening Perspectives
…and are vitally important in an educational landscape. See below.


Learning Technologies Support would like to take a moment to thank all the teachers and students who made this eBook possible. They have worked tirelessly and extremely hard to both learn the Seesaw tool and have continued to refining and perfecting already solid assessment for learning practices to fit with this new process portfolio/assessment for learning management tool.

The examples shared, highlight various aspects of student & teacher learning reflected on in Nursery through Grade 6. It is exciting to see how insightful and detailed some of the reflections and insights are.

We are beginning to see teachers and students making connections to outcomes and criteria in more purposeful, direct and meaningful ways during the reflection and posting process in Seesaw in Chapters 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. This is not to say that this isn’t being done daily at the classroom level, rather the processes in place in the classroom have not yet fully transferred into the Seesaw environment. Hopefully, the training provided over the course of this year and next (also outlined in Chapter 2) will help with this.

The examples in Chapters 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 also demonstrate current practices that one might expect to see in evidence in Winnipeg School Division classrooms today: Inquiry, Design Thinking, Computational Thinking, the 6 Cs, and so on.

There is plenty of evidence of creative connections with parents in Chapter 4: conversations about learning, education, upcoming events, past events, & friendly, community building conversations.

Mobile Learning seems alive and well. Chapter 3 highlights examples of App- & Media- Smashing where learners are demonstrating their creativity and inventiveness when designing and working on completing their tasks. It was encouraging to especially see examples where both various media (dance or clay) was used in conjunction with a digital medium (video or animation).

Overall, the Seesaw implementation is progressing well. Please use this resource as a guide to assist you and your class in creating powerful, learning focused, reflective posts guided by co-created criteria, outcomes and clear tasks for the Seesaw Learning Journals your students will be creating.

The eBook itself is designed to be viewed on an eReader of some kind (iBook, Adobe Editions, BlueFire Reader, and the like) either on a mobile device like a phone or tablet or laptop. Within a short period of time this book may be deployed to all “open” or “non-student” iPads in the Division, hopefully directly in the iBook reader. But it can also be downloaded an installed via the portal at the following link here… Evidence of Learning in Seesaw iBook, or over in the Digital Portfolio section of the our portal site. I will provide a tutorial to lead you through this at the following link… SEESAW: How to Download & install a Seesaw eBook…

Computational Thinking Revisited

Computational Thinking
Computational Thinking

I have been thinking more about what the important steps embedded in the process of programming… There are really two cycles within the process: one that follows a design or inquiry-like sequence & one that addresses computational thinking. I have tweaked this model over and over and have done so again below to show where I think the computational thinking fits in.

Blended Processes: Computational & Design Thinking
Blended Processes: Computational & Design Thinking

It’s fascinating to watch students tackle this head on. I was at Wellington School the other day working on a coding and I was amazed on a number of fronts:

Wellington Students
Wellington Students Coding; Posted with permission
  • Students were unfazed by the coding challenges put in front of them: the challenges were hard but the students were highly motivated to solve them
  • Students struggled initially with establishing social sharing of the tools: needed to provide some strategies here
  • They successfully collaborated in their teams
  • They creatively collaborated across teams
  • The focussed completely on the coding problem & trying to solve it
  • It didn’t matter that Math, Science & ELA outcomes, strategies & content were being dealt with in order to solve the coding problem at hand: students shifted between these areas with ease. The blended nature of the content was authentic and natural to the students
  • Students were creative in their solutions to the coding problems that were being solved
4 Cs: Above & Beyond
Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking , Creativity

What stands out is that with little help the students were practicing the 4Cs meaningfully across content areas. This reaffirms that coding can be curricular glue, but more than that, it allows for students to engage in two authentic and worthy processes: inquiry/design & computational thinking.

Scaffolding Question Building in an Innovation Landscape

Training of the Mind
Training of the Mind

When I first started exploring questioning in some detail was when I was hired to support teacher in the Winnipeg School division with the Inquiry process embedded in the LwICT Continuum. That was in 2007 and my understanding of developing question with student has evolved somewhat over the years since. I thought I might share this evolution with you in this post entitled Scaffolding Question Building.

At first, I relied heavily on Manitoba documentation that went along with the Literacy with Internet Communication Technology Continuum documentation that the province provided online. Blooms taxonomy was one of the theories used to ground this continuum and was, in fact, used heavily in terms of framing the questioning section of the process. This seemed a logical starting place.

Blooms Revised
Blooms Revised

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a classification of thinking organized by level of complexity. It gives teachers and students an opportunity to learn and practice a range of thinking and provides a simple structure for many different kinds of questions and thinking. The taxonomy involves all categories of questions. Lower level questions are those at the remembering, understanding and lower level application levels of the taxonomy.

Usually questions at the lower levels are appropriate for:

  • Reviewing and/or summarizing content
  • Scaffolding to higher level questions

Higher level questions are those requiring complex application, analysis, evaluation or creation skills.

Questions at higher levels of the taxonomy are usually most appropriate for:

  • Encouraging students to think more deeply and critically
  • Problem solving
  • Encouraging discussions
  • Stimulating students to seek information on their own
  • Create new meaning

In the early days, I spent a lot of time developing activities that aligned with helping students develop question at each level of blooms. I modelled many of the activities after the ones found in the books Q-Tasks Edition 1 & Q-Tasks Edition 2:

Koechlin, Carol, and Sandi Zwaan. Q Tasks: How to Empower Students to Ask Questions and Care about Answers. Markham, ON: Pembroke, 2006. Print
The focus was generally placed on using question WORDs to format questions: who, what, where, when, why, & how…

Question Words: Who, What, Where, When, Why & How
Question Words: Who, What, Where, When, Why & How

This was a very prescribed approach that worked well for teachers starting out. Together, we spent a lot of time dissecting questions, trying to help teachers and students understand how questions were constructed and how to get students to come up with better questions. Things were working, but teachers needed more helping understanding how deep questions are created. My colleagues and I tried another resource on questions:

McKenzie, Jamieson A. Learning to Question – to Wonder – to Learn. Bellingham, WA: FNO, 2005. Print

This was an overwhelming book all about question types. Too much information as it turned out, but a valuable reference in small doses. It gave teachers some back ground, but was fitting the bellman terms of getting the results we were hoping for in terms of question generation from students within their inquiries. We needed something different.

Applying some of what we know of Anne Davies about regarding setting criteria, that’s when we hit upon a question creation process that seemed to help.

Gregory, Kathleen, Caren Cameron, and Anne Davies. Setting and Using Criteria: For Use in Middle and Secondary School Classrooms. Merville, B.C.: Connections Pub., 1997. Print.

The process went something like this…

Question Process
Question Process

We discovered, not surprisingly, that our criteria for both types of questions changed or needed modification as we encountered diverse examples of & talked about the intent behind more and more questions. We kept adding to or adapting the criteria that we had previously set. To give you an idea of the kind of criteria that has been created by teachers in past inservices, have a look at the lines of the quoted text snippet below:

A deep question leads to the seeking of personal understanding, could have many different answers, inspires more questions and conversations, can be answered in many ways, is motivating, and leads to ownership of the learning process. Deeper question lead to answers that are often created, not “found” in books or other resources. (living draft)

One clever teacher at Lord Roberts school came up with a way of visualizing how this might look.

Visualizing Deep Questions
Visualizing Deep Questions

It was vitally important to us not to dismiss scaffolding questions to only focus on deeper questions, however. While answers to scaffolding questions are often fact-based, easy found online on in other effortlessly accessible resources like books and the like, they are critical in providing base information for answering, exploring, exposing deeper questions. They often led the way on an inquiry journey guided by deeper, critical questions and ultimately deeper thinking & exploration.

And this is where we have left things for the most part.

As of late, the Division has shifted it’s priorities towards innovation, Maker Spaces and STEAM focussed education. Arguably this is not necessarily a huge departure from a creationist, inquiry focused, question driven philosophy; rather, it seems a nature evolution.

This got me thinking about the status of the questioning process we have in place and whether it needed tweaking as well. Does it help teacher and students in an innovation, maker space, or STEAM setting? I am reasonable certain that in STEAM/Maker Space classroom the process, given time, will work. After all, an inquiry class and a STEAM class are really not that dissimilar. But how does it apply to an innovative school for example.

I kept searching online for inspiration, for something new. I found lots of innovation questions or prompts:

  • What could I look at in a new way?
  • What could I use in a new way?
  • What could I recontextualize in space or time?
  • What could I connect in a new way?
  • What could I change, in terms of design or performance?
  • What could I create that is truly new?

It would seem that question creation remains a process of exploration, a process of discovery, a process of creation. One thing did occur to me as I thought about Blooms , questions, innovation and the maker movement and that was word CREATION. It might be time to invert Blooms and thing of Creation first out of the box….

Blooms Flipped
Blooms Flipped

Perhaps we need to think about making question the same way we go about making meaning.

We explore artifacts, we discuss, we think, we share, we collaborate, we muck about and get messy, we sort and categorize, we set criteria and check against that criteria to see that we’re on track…

Albert Einstein once said,

“It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”

That perhaps is the right idea.


I just went on Twitter and came across this Tweet from my colleague Shauna Cornwall stressing the importance of two simple question frames to be used regularly even in primary classrooms. It’s never too early too start!

Such important questions to “frame” all that you do with your gr2 Ss @smacpenner #winnipegSD https://t.co/wTVOjAOFeK

What and Why?
What and Why?