Final Reflections

Final Reflections












Analysis and Recommendations

Anal 1

Figure 1:Time for some analysis on this safari! Google Images.




Inquiry learning is generally based on a constructivist approach in which the student is learning ‘how’ to learn rather than concentrating on the ‘what’, (YouthLearn Initiative, 2009). Parr, Bellis and Bolfin (2013, p. 19) describe an English inquiry-based classroom: ‘…contemporary English classrooms are not spaces where knowledge can be neatly defined before, during or after students ‘get to work’; rather they are spaces where shared knowledge is constantly evolving.’ Inquiry learning encourages increased intellectual capacity and goes beyond participation to build the growth of thinking skills and ideas, (teachthought, 2014). This enables students to have the skills necessary for survival in their world (Kuhlthau, 2010).


This Information Learning Activity (ILA) Creating Short Stories had several obstacles to surmount so it is not an ideal example of a learning inquiry. The key learning area of English is not usually viewed as a curriculum area that lends itself to inquiry learning. The general standards and continua for Year 8 English can be accessed using this link Standards and Continua. Though the ACARA documents list critical and creative thinking skills across F-10 ACARA Critical and Creative Thinking, as well as a wide range of thinking skills for Year 8 English ACARA Year 8 English, the Queensland Curriculum to the Classroom (C2C) materials adopted a lock step approach which inhibits inquiry learning especially in the distance mode. Information literacy is not addressed by either ACARA, (Lupton, 2010) or the C2C. I had not previously implemented an ILA either in a mainstream school or in the distance mode, so this was a somewhat daunting task.

Alone 5

Figure 2: Where to begin? Google Images.


Guided Inquiry

The level of inquiry in the ILA Creating Short Stories is a Guided Inquiry as it is both student and teacher directed, (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007). My students had not experienced this approach to learning before so I was aware that I would need to consistently reflect with them on their learning.  I chose the structure of the Alberta Inquiry Model as the research process because it focuses on reflection at all stages of the learning process. It also has specific links to the teaching of English, (Branch & Odberg, 2004). On closer observation I also used aspects of the Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari (2012) Guided Inquiry approach.

The genre of the ILA was a set one but the students were free to choose a topic of their own, as well as how they would create, design or select the illustrations for their short stories. Wiggins & McTighe, (1998) cited by Branch & Odberg (2004) maintain that a successful inquiry is one that gives choice to the students where they may generate their own questions.

Kuhlthau  (2010, p. 4) defines Guided Inquiry as “planned, targeted, and supervised intervention throughout the inquiry process.”  I analyzed the common themes from The SLIM Toolkit surveys (See Findings) and provided interventions (See Action Taken) on a group basis.

Branch & Odberg (2004) emphasize that input from a teacher librarian is crucial to the inquiry process. In this ILA, I operated virtually in a vacuum and as a result was unable to effectively foreground the inquiry process for the students. An example of this is evidenced by their being unaware that ‘creating’ was part of their learning process (See Findings). In analyzing the ILA I did not make the process explicit enough for the students to ensure that we had a common language and common understanding that we were cycling through a learning process in phases. This was identified by Holland as a problem (1994) cited in Branch and Odberg (2004) which did not lead to best practice.

However the ILA did accomplish engaging the students in different types of competencies and curriculum knowledge, (Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, 2012). See Action taken.

5 types pf learning

Figure 3: Adapted from Kuhlthau, C; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A. (2012, p. 9)

The implementation of this guided inquiry was enhanced by the use of the SLIM Toolkit that enabled me to identify areas of difficulty quickly and provide appropriate interventions and feedback which are critical to the success of an ILA, (Branch & Odberg, 2004).


GeST Windows

The ILA was designed as a unit on creating an illustrated short story. This involved the students in planning, drafting, editing and publishing. Within these activities they developed thinking skills, specific literacy skills, created and illustrated a short story and discussed their learning amongst other thing. As such, this ILA can be viewed through all of the GeST windows put forward by Lupton & Bruce (2010).

The Generic Window of the ILA includes the skills and processes for finding information on short story writing, illustrations and words. The Situated Window can be viewed in the students’ selection and evaluation of the images for their final pieces. In the example of the student’s writing pictured below the illustration depicts, for me as the reader, the despair of the character and communicates his loneliness. The information is ‘personal and, therefore, internal and subjective,” (Lupton & Bruce. 2010, p. 12).


Figure 4: Image used with students permission.


The students’ presentations can be included in the Transformative Window. This came from the comments on social issues such as suicide, religion and food choices that were topics chosen by some of the students. Questions were generated about belief systems and what individual student’s opinions were on these subjects. This was not an intentional outcome that I planned for in the ILA but as the students gained more ownership of the process it seems a natural progression for their questioning to evolve.

Food choices

Figure 5: Excerpt from a PowerPoint  short story created by a student. This story generated discussion about food choices and how this affects our society. Used with student’s permission.


Evaluation Rubrics

The students in this ILA were not so much evaluating information or sources rather they were searching and using filters to restrict information they did not want. It is a weakness in this ILA that I did not provide them with any rubrics to follow when searching for information about things such as the online thesaurus. We did use discussion and compared different sites before deciding on the one most suitable but it would have been a more rigorous and meaningful task had guidelines been provided. I could have used the critical evaluation of information sources from the University of Oregon Evaluation of Sources.

Questioning Frameworks

The ILA used a KWL chart at the very beginning of the unit as a tool for the students to prepare to research their topic, and then keep track of the information gathered. It helped students to activate what they knew about the topic and encouraged them to think about what they needed to research. Working together online on KWL provided opportunities for the students to clarify their questions and re-phrase the into more focussed questions. Unfortunately I forgot to use the slide in every lesson so the questions were not recorded in one place but the students did create their own questions for each other in this ILA. McKenzie (2005, p. 9) points out that it is important for students to have strong questioning skills to strategically search for relevant information ” to cut past the info-glut, that all too often impedes the search for Insight.”


Figure 6: KWL from Collaborate whiteboard.

I based my questioning on Bloom’s Revised Thinking Skills Taxonomy. I also observed the student’s comments and questions and aligned them with the taxonomy. It would have been useful to share this with the students to assist them in their thinking and questioning and I would do so in the future.

From the discussions with the students which was part of the reflection process, I found that they were very interested in their chosen topic. They demonstrated a high level of higher order thinking and creativity as the unit progressed. Specifically, they moved from Remembering and Understanding to Analyzing, Evaluating and Creating. Examining was the thinking skill explicitly taught from the Analyzing level as this was designed to have them ‘examine’ short stories and the assessment task effectively. In the future I would discuss the thinking skills with them and give them a choice as to which ones would be valuable for their learning.


The intent of the ILA is based on sound inquiry learning precepts but it suffers from lack a of rigour. It is very much a novice unit which needed the assistance or collaboration of a teacher librarian. While a lot of the inquiry was guided and student generated it missed opportunities to go deeper and direct students to tools which would have been useful for their learning, for example sharing Blooms Revised Thinking Skills Taxonomy and providing rubrics for evaluating information sources. A strength was that it gave opportunities for students to discuss their feelings on the topic but not so much about their feelings at specific phases of the learning process. The students were engaged and participated actively but were not as aware of the process as they were of the topic and this is a major flaw. Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari (2012, p.1) state that: “The Guided Inquiry process is built around a team approach within a collaborative culture.”  Next time I plan an ILA I hope that I will have the ‘team’.




ACARA Critical and Creative Thinking (2014) Retrieved on August 22, 2014 from Creative and Critical Thinking.

ACARA English (2014) Retrieved on August 22, 2014 from Standards and Continua.

ACARA English (2014) Retrieved on August 22, 2014 from Year 8 English

Bloom’s Thinking Skills Framework. Retrieved on August 23, 2014 from https://anethicalisland.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/blooms-revised-taxonomy-with-verbs/

Branch, J. Oberg, D. (2004) Focus on Inquiry: a teacher’s guide to implementing inquiry-based learning. Retrieved on August 22, 2014, from https://education.alberta.ca/media/313361/focusoninquiry.pdf

Evaluation of Sources, (2014) Retrieved on August 8, 2014 fromhttp://library.uoregon.edu/guides/findarticles/credibility.html

Figure 1. (2014). Time for some analysis on this safari.Retrieved on November 10, 2014 from analysing animals

Figure 2. (2014). Where to begin? Retrieved on November 10, 2014 from image of person alone with computer

Figures 4 & 5. (2014). Used with the students’ permission.

Harada, Violet and Yoshina, Joan, (2004). Chapter 1: Identifying the inquiry-based school. In Harada, Violet and Yoshina, Joan, Inquiry learning through librarian-teacher partnerships, (pp.1 – 10). Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Publishing.

Kuhlthau, Carol C. ; Maniotes, Leslie K. & Caspari, Ann K, (2007). Chapter 2: The Theory and Research Basis for Guided Inquiry. In Kuhlthau, Carol C. ; Maniotes, Leslie K. & Caspari, Ann K, Guided inquiry : learning in the 21st century, (pp.13 – 28). Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

Kuhlthau, Carol. (2010). Guided inquiry : school libraries in the 21st century School Libraries Worldwide, 16 (1), 1-12.

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2012). Guided Inquiry Learning in the 21st Century. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from http://www.kzneducation.gov.za/portals/0/elits%20website%20homepage/iasl%202009/,n-kuhlthau[1].pdf

Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, (2012). Chapter 1 : Guided Inquiry Design: The Process, the Learning, and the Team. In Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, Guided inquiry design : a framework for inquiry in your school, (pp.1 – 15). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

Lee, Mal. (2014). Retrieved August 22, 2014 from The educational fallacy of an ICT Continuum

Lupton, Mandy. (2012). Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum. Access, 26 (2), 12-18. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCYQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fslansw.asn.au%2Fdownload%2F2013plluptonkeynoteinquirylearning.pdf&ei=O9gLVJG9B4qXuASe0oDwDQ&usg=AFQjCNGEZM2krrXUPICF-b1-Inw7lRus2A

Lupton, Mandy and Bruce, Christine. (2010). Chapter 1 : Windows on Information Literacy Worlds : Generic, Situated and Transformative Perspectives in Lloyd, Annemaree and Talja, Sanna, Practising information literacy : bringing theories of learning, practice and information literacy together, Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, pp.3-27.

McKenzie, Jamieson. (2005). Chapter 3 : Questions as Technology in McKenzie, Jamieson, Learning to question to wonder to learn, Washington: FNO Press, pp.15-26.

Parr, G. Bellis, N, Bulfin, S. Teaching English Volume 48 Number 1 2013 Teachers for the Futures: Speaking Back to TPACK English in Australia Retrieved August 19, 2014 from https://clarekosnik.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/parr-bellis-bulfin_2013_teaching-english-teachers-for- the-future.pdf

SLIM Toolkit. Retrieved on September 10, 2014 from http://cissl.rutgers.edu/joomla-license/impact-studies?start=6

Teachthought. (2014). The Inside-Out School: A 21st Century Learning Model. [online]. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from teachthought

Wiggins & McTighe (1998). In Branch, J. Oberg, D. (2004) Focus on Inquiry: a teacher’s guide to implementing inquiry-based learning. Retrieved on August 22, 2014, from https://education.alberta.ca/media/313361/focusoninquiry.pdf

YouthLearn Initiative (US). (2009). A Guide to Inquiry-based Learning. [online]. Agora; v.44 n.1 p.4-11. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from http://search.informit.com.au.ezp0.library.qut.edu.au/fullText;dn=174497;res=AEIPT



Find the animal

Can you find what is in the detail in this image of a safari? Click here for the answer. From Abraham (2012) by Art Wolfe.

Harada & Yoshina (2004) remind us that assessment must  be continuous to be effective in an inquiry activity. This aligns closely with the continuous cycle of reflecting on the process outlined by Branch & Odberg (2004).  I viewed collecting information using three questionnaires derived from the SLIM Toolkit  at various points along the ILA  as part of my reflection on this ILA .  The following are my findings, observations and interpretations of the data.

 Question 1: Existing knowledge statement types. 

Question 1 Chart

Figure 1: Students’ Existing Knowledge

The students in this class are mostly high achievers and participate willingly in any activities that will assist with their learning. All students completed the survey. The numbers on vertical axis indicate students’ responses counting the number of statements individually. For question 1, the statement types of FactExplanation or Conclusion were employed as described in the SLIM Toolkit methodology.

In survey 1, the students gave mainly concise, factual answers. The types of questions affect how a student will answer, (YouthLearn Initiative, 2009). Students may have viewed  some of the questions in a purely factual light that required a factual answer rather than an evaluative or interpretative one.  Several students offered some reasons for their facts but no one put forward a personal opinion or evaluation therefore no conclusion statments were given. They wished to comply by completing the survey but it was at the end of an English unit on a completely different topic and just before the holidays. It was to be expected that they would have their minds on the work they were currently completing.

The next survey was administered after lesson 5. Survey 2 showed increases in all statement types. The quality of the responses improved which could be attributed to the fact that the students had been involved in the planning, retrieving and processing phases to this point. They had also been exposed to the use of the thinking skill ‘examine’ from Bloom’s Thinking Framework. Murdoch (2006) underscores the importance of integrating thinking skills in the inquiry to challenge students to think at higher levels and so develop deeper understanding.

Survey 3 was conducted verbally and online using Collaborate. Students demonstrated a wider factual knowledge and this was represented by the increase in the number of factual statements. The use of inquiry learning is designed to increase the students’  knowledge of the specific curriculum area, (Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinstrom, 2005). Students were able to identify the mechanics of short story writing as well as explain and draw conclusions about the structure, illustrations and word usage. Two examples of  Conclusion  and Explanation statements given were:

N stated: “Short stories should engage the reader quickly and I feel that illustrations that appeal to the emotions are very effective in achieving this.”

J stated: “I found it particularly difficult to keep within the word limit of 800 words. Probably because we haven’t done a lot of this type of writing. When I think about it, it isn’t really my favourite writing either. I wasn’t keen on having to do the illustrations but it was better being able to use Google Images.”

Question 2: Interest in Topic.

Question 2 Chart

Figure 2: Students’ Interest in Topic

As demonstrated in figure 2, a majority of the students had ‘quite a bit’ of interest in the topic and a few ‘not so much’. The topic was already chosen without consultation with the students so this may have had some influence on their levels of interest at the beginning.  Branch & Solowan (2004) point out, “What is important to any inquiry is that students have choice so that they can develop the commitment to the question that will sustain them through the hard, messy work of retrieving, processing and creating.”

In discussions with these students, it was found that it wasn’t so much the writing of the story but the illustrations. that they weren’t interested in doing. They disliked drawing and painting. At this point they had not seen the assessment task.  It can be seen in survey 2 that these students have increased their interest as there are no ‘not much’ replies shown. The students now knew the conditions of the assessment task and that they were given the choice of how they created their illustrations. It is probable that this increased their confidence in creating illustrations in a medium of their own choosing. It was also important for the students to acknowledge their feelings as a part of the learning process, (Branch & Odberg, 2004).

Surveys 2 and 3 show no variance in the other two areas. In discussion with the students responding ‘quite a bit’, it was found that they fell into two groups: those who were really interested in the writing part and not as interested in the illustrations and those who were really interested in making the illustrations perfect for their story and quite interested in the writing. For some reason this did not change in survey 3. It would appear that personal preferences for tasks influence the student’s interest, (Tobin, 2005). The ‘ a great deal’ group remained constant in all three surveys.

Question 3: Students’ Perceived Knowledge of Subject.

Question 3 Chart

Figure 3: Students’ Perceived Level of Knowledge

Interestingly, the ‘not much’ group were the same students who answered ‘not much’ to question 2. It could be inferred that perceived little prior knowledge also may have affected their interest in the topic, (Tobin, 2005). This group demonstrated an increase in knowledge as the ILA progressed as none of the students selected this response in survey 2. Survey 3 shows a positive increase in knowledge in the ‘a great deal’ category.  It would be expected that more students would have selected this category as at this point in the inquiry the students had completed their presentation and assessment, (Branch & Odberg, 2004).


Question 4: What Students Perceived to be Easy when Researching.

Q2 Chart 2

Figure 4: Tasks Perceived as ‘Easy’

This cohort of students work online every day for all their subjects. They are quite experienced in the use of computers and technology.  It is likely that teachers do not have a great deal of influence on the development of students’ use of digital technology, Lee (2014). Figure 4 depicts the main themes students identified in survey 1.The same categories were used in surveys 2 and 3. The category, ‘watching videos’ is consistently shown as ‘easy’ by all students. They view videos on a daily basis as part of their lessons. The expanded meaning of this is that they know how to access videos independently online as well as follow links provided by the teacher.  They have no blocks on their searching as they are working from home. This allows them to view a wider range of materials than if they were at school, (Lee, 2014).

As the ILA continued, the number of students who found these categories ‘easy’  grew as is demonstrated in Figure 4. Examples of students comments in survey 3:

T stated: “I am quite confident typing relevant words to find results. I usually find what I need without too much trouble now, especially images.”

M stated: “What a difference it makes in finding safe images now that N showed us what to do. I didn’t have a clue before but none of the teachers mentioned it so I thought I was ok.”

Question 5: What Students Perceived to be Difficult when Researching.

Q5 2

Figure 5: Tasks Students Perceived as ‘Difficult’

Figure 5 depicts the main themes students identified in survey 1.The same categories were used in surveys 2 and 3. The main areas identified as ‘difficult’  are clearly shown. The students were aware of copyright issues as this was part of their English course in Year 7. From discussions with the students, it would appear that they were unsure about how this applied to images but realised that there must be some issues. The category ‘plagiarising’ proved to be similar. They did not understand how to use other words or where to get them from to expand on information they researched.

As the ILA proceeded, the number of students who found these categories ‘Difficult’ dropped as is demonstrated in Figure 5. It could be inferred that this was in some part due the frequent interaction between the teacher, and student to student, (Branch & Odberg, 2004).

Additional questions in survey 3.

Question 6: How satisfied were you with your research for this topic?

Q6 4

Figure 6: Students’ Satisfaction with their Research

Question 6 was added to survey 3 to gain a picture of how students felt about their research for this topic. Figure 6 shows that the students sit evenly across the ‘satisfied’ and ‘very satisfied’ categories. They did not have their results from their assessments at this stage which may have affected their satisfaction level higher or lower. However, it would appear that they are quite confident in what they have done for this unit and this is a recommended outcome for inquiry learning, (Branch & Odberg, 2004).

Question 7: What did you learn about conducting research in this unit of work?

Q7 3

Figure 7: What Students Learnt

Two main themes emerged from this question and they are evident in Figure 7.  It indicates that less students learnt to apply the filters to locate copyright free images which could be manipulated. In fact one student already knew how to do this as she demonstrated this research technique for the class. In our web -conference she did not submit this as an answer. None of the students offered any comment on ‘creating’ as part of the research process. It was mentioned in our general discussions about the students’ reflections on what helped to improve their assessment pieces. Clearly this was not seen as a research process by the students. They reported that they preferred the use of discussion and slides for reflection 3 as it gave them the opportunity to expand on their experiences and discuss their thinking more fully. As Branch & Odberg (2004, p. 41) state, “Inquiry work with students is an active interchange between students and teachers of ideas, information, learnings, experiences, activities and feelings, through which meaning is constructed.”

R stated: “I love the online thesaurus. It has helped me write using more interesting words and I don’t feel like I am plagiarising other people’s words either.

The students appeared to have a positive experience with this unit and the standard of their assessment tasks ranged from B’s to high A’s. Below is an extract, with permission, from a student’s completed illustrated short story.


Figure 8: Student’s Illustration (Used with permission)

As the rain started to pour down upon the innocent streets of this city, I climbed onto the ledge in front of me. Step-by-step, I got closer to the edge of the bridge, thinking to myself that this feels right and that this would be it. I looked down into the large mass of water which seemed like an infinite dark abyss that I would soon plummet into. My mind completely blocked out all of my surroundings. All I could hear and see was my life instantly flashing in front of me: my girlfriend, my house, my job and my existence. I leaned forward and let myself go. I felt nothing. Where was the adrenaline that should be surging throughout my body as I plunge 150 metres into a dark pool that would consume me?



Bloom’s Thinking Skills Framework. Retrieved on August 23, 2014 from https://anethicalisland.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/blooms-revised-taxonomy-with-verbs/

Branch, J. Oberg, D. (2004) Focus on Inquiry: a teacher’s guide to implementing inquiry-based learning. Retrieved on August 22, 2014, from https://education.alberta.ca/media/313361/focusoninquiry.pdf

Branch, J. L. Solowan, D. G. (2004) Inquiry-based learning activities: developing opportunities. [online]. Synergy; v.2 n.1 p.22-31. Retrieved on August 22, 2014 from http://search.informit.com.au.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/fullText;dn=136411;res=AEIPT

Figure 8 image used with the student’s permission.

Harada, V. Yoshina, J. (2004). Chapter 1: identifying the inquiry based school Inquiry learning through librarian-teacher partnerships (pp. 1-10). Worthington: Linworth.

Lee, M. (2014). The Educational Fallacy of an ICT Continum. Retrieved on September 7, 2014 from http://malleehome.com/?p=2745

Murdoch, K. (2006) The inquiry learning: journeys through the thinking process. Retrieved on August 23, 2014 from http://www.kathmurdoch.com.au/fileadmin/_migrated/content_uploads/inquirylearning.pdf

Safari Image. Retrieved on November 10, 2014  from http://twentytwowords.com/can-you-find-the-hidden-animals-in-these-20-wildlife-photos/

Tobin, R. (2005). Responding to diversity: Differentiating in the language arts classroom. Retrieved on  August 23, 2014 from http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/langandlit/article/view/16317/13095

Todd, R., Kuhlthau, C. & Heinstorm, J. (2005). School library impact measure. Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries, Rutgers University. Retrieved on August 25, 2014 from http://cissl.rutgers.edu/joomla-license/impact-studies?start=6

YouthLearn Initiative (US). (2009). A guide to inquiry-based learning. [online]. Agora; v.44 n.1 p.4-11. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from http://search.informit.com.au.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/fullText;dn=174497;res=AEIPT


Action Taken

Khulthau (2010) describes inquiry learning as a deeper level of learning and not just an exercise in collecting and presenting information. The importance of the partnership between the teacher and the teacher librarian in the success of inquiry learning is also highlighted. Unfortunately, I did not have access to a teacher librarian for this unit due to circumstances beyond my control.

Khulthau (2010, pp. 4 – 5) points out that, “With guidance, students are able to concentrate on constructing new knowledge in the stages of the inquiry process to gain personal understanding and transferable skills.” To identify what areas needed guidance, I administered the surveys to all my students from the revised SLIM Toolkit  by Todd, Kuhlthau and Heinstrom (2005) (see Methodology page).  Survey 1 was administered in the last week of Term 3 before the students began the English unit Creating Short Stories. It provided the initial information on the areas that were problematic across the board for my class and formed part of the content for my first few lessons.

On analyzing the students’ responses in survey 1 to the question, “When researching, what do you find most difficult?” the common themes were:

  • Finding images that can be used and changed copyright free
  • Finding words or language that will help me with my writing without plagiarizing


 Finding images: Copyright free and can be changed

As the assessment for this unit required illustrations, I addressed in my lesson how the students could create illustrations themselves. Rather than telling them, I asked them to put forward ideas from their own experiences. This elicited a variety of responses from the use of Paint, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator to uploading your own photographs or drawn pictures into iPhoto or the PC equivalent. I put forward the question that if I did not want to do any if these but find images on the internet that I could manipulate, how would I do it?

Figure 2: Slide from my lesson created in PowerPoint using Clip Art.

Figure 1: Slide from my lesson created in PowerPoint using Clip Art.


One of my students came up with the solution of using filters in Google Images. She demonstrated how to do this during the web-conferencing so that other students could use the same safe process.

igure 3: Student begins demonstration using Sharing Application in Collaborate web-conference.

Figure 2: Student begins demonstration using Sharing Application in Collaborate web-conference.

Figure 4: Student demonstrating where to locate filters.

Figure 3: Student demonstrating where to locate filters.

Figure 5: Student displaying images found.

Figure 4: Student displaying images found.


The students were very appreciative of the demonstration and agreed that from now on they would be looking for images, ‘Labeled for noncommercial reuse with modification.’


Finding words to help me with my writing without plagiarizing

To assist students to research to find language and vocabulary, I posed the question of where they would go and what they would do to find words to enrich their writing. Most said a dictionary. Only one student said that he would use a thesaurus. None of the other students had heard of a thesaurus. They googled the meaning and used the Wikipedia example to share on screen: Definition of Thesaurus

We discussed the fact that this is not plagiarizing if we are selecting words to use in place of another word. Many of the students had been confused and thought they were actually plagiarizing if they did this. The new word may be a better choice, have a richer meaning or elaborate on their writing.

The students decided to find an online thesaurus that met their needs that they would all use. They individually did searches and applied their own Boolean operators such as thesaurus AND student. As there were at home I could not monitor all searches but reminded them to add words that they thought would be useful After much discussion, this site was selected as had tabs for a dictionary, parts of speech, antonyms, word origin, and translation: Online thesaurus

From survey 2, which was administered after lesson 5, the main theme that came through was creating the story: putting together all the ideas for the final piece without going over the word limit.


Creating the final piece

Each student had a pre-writing discussion with me before beginning their draft to outline their story ideas so that they were clear about their task: context, story structure, characters, and illustrations. According to the Create stage of Kuhlthau’s Guided Inquiry Design model (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2012), the teacher’s role is to guide the students in creating presentations that are vehicles for showing what they have learnt.

From this point, the students created a first draft to be submitted to me and a randomly chosen class colleague for feedback. Branch & Odberg (2004) indicate that peer feedback is essential in the ‘Create’ phase of the inquiry process and it also gives students time to reflect. All students were given this link to assist their peer reviewing:

Peer Critique


Figure 5: Slide from my lesson on peer reviewing.


Figure 6: Slide from lesson. Developed in collaboration with Year 8 English HOD.

To  scaffold the students in what they were looking for in each others’ work, a template was developed in collaboration with the Year 8 English Head of Department and uploaded to breakout rooms.

The final presentation was done in week five via web-conferencing.


Branch, J. Oberg, D. (2004) Focus on Inquiry: a teacher’s guide to implementing inquiry-based learning. Retrieved on August 14, 2014, from https://education.alberta.ca/media/313361/focusoninquiry.pdf

 Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. & Caspari, A. (2007). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Westport : Libraries Unlimited. Chapter 2: The theory and research basis for guided inquiry.

Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, (2012). Chapter 1: Guided Inquiry Design: The Process, the Learning, and the Team. In Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A. Guide inquiry design: a framework for inquiry in your school, (pp.1-15). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.


Information Learning Activity: Methodology

As I was acting in a non-teaching distance education Deputy Principal position for Term 3, I was unable to start the Information Learning Activity  (ILA) earlier in the year.  I began the preparation for the ILA with my previous Year 8 English class of 14 distance education students in the last week of Term 3 to be continued in term 4. All students completed three surveys  SLIM toolkit  throughout the inquiry using an emailed form for survey 1 and 2 and an online web-conference for survey 3.

Figure 1 shows a completed example of the first questionnaire administered before the students began the unit at the end of Term 3. Figure 2 is a completed survey 2 which was administered after lesson 5.  This ILA was evaluated, using evidence from the data collected from the surveys, in conjunction with observations of and discussions with the students and analysed using the SLIM toolkit guidelines. Observations of student’s comments and questions were aligned to Bloom’s Revised Thinking Skills Framework. A KWL tool was used to reflect on prior knowledge and plan the units direction with the students.


Figure 1: Student Example Survey 1

Figure 2: Example of student survey 2.

Figure 2: Student Example Survey 2

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Figure 3: Slide for Survey 3



Figure 4: Bloom’s Revised taxonomy (Mia MacKenzie, 2014)





Module 2: Description of Information Learning Activity

The fourteen students involved in this Information Learning Activity (ILA) are a Year 8 English distance education cohort.  To implement the Australian Curriculum, the Curriculum into the Classroom (C2C) resource was developed to deliver a comprehensive set of whole-school and classroom planning materials for single level and multi-level classes, students with disability and for students who study through the schools of distance education. The topic is one set by the C2C: Creating Short Stories. So my students are joining me on a safari to seek out information and create short stories as well as choosing or designing illustrations. The instructional design of the ILA is based on the Alberta Inquiry Model with 10 x 70 minute online lessons delivered through Collaborate. 

Inquiry Learning Process

Focus on Inquiry: a teacher’s guide to implementing inquiry-based learning: p 10. https://education.alberta.ca/media/313361/focusoninquiry.pdf

The students are provided with 2 x 70 minute sessions after lesson 5 to complete their first draft which is submitted online for teacher and peer feedback.  From the feedback given, the students revise their draft and complete a final piece for assessment to be completed within a further 3 x 70 minutes sessions after lesson 10. The learning outcomes are outlined below:

Lesson intent

Taken from C2C Unit 7 Year 8 Lesson 1.

The first lesson began the planning phase and students posed questions to be researched, where they would go for answers and they mapped out a plan for possible future lessons. I introduced the thinking skill – ‘examine’ and we examined the set assessment task and the evaluation criteria (Guide to Making Judgements).



Images created by Brisbane School of Distance Education (BSDE) Year 8 English teachers for Unit 7 C2C: Creating Short Stories.

Guide to Making Judgements revised by BSDE Year 8 teachers for Unit 7 C2C: Creating Short Stories: Guide to Making Judgements



Branch, J. Odberg, D.  (2004). Focus on Inquiry: a teacher’s guide to implementing inquiry-based learning. Alberta Learning Teaching and Resources Branch. Alberta, Canada. Retrieved on 18th August, 2014 from https://education.alberta.ca/media/313361/focusoninquiry.pdf