Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Involving parents at different stages of an Inquiry

One of the challenges in transforming learning in schools is taking
our parental community with us on the journey. Parent experience of
school can be a strong influence on how they view learning.

In order to overcome this challenge, schools give information
evenings, have student-led conferences and showcase learning at
mini-exhibitions.


Traditionally we've waited until the end of the unit for children to
showcase learning at mini-exhibitions. The children love the
opportunity to share what they've been learning about in school with
their parents and the parents love hearing about the children's
experiences and seeing learning artefacts. However, the problem with
the showcase approach is parents are passive recipients of a child's
learning journey rather than taking an active role in the process.


How might we better involve parents in the process of inquiry?

In our How we organise Ourselves unit our class is exploring 'Markets connect people with products'
with a focus on entrepreneurialism and students developing businesses.  
Instead of waiting until the end of unit market day for the parents to come in, 
we invited parents in halfway through a unit of inquiry for the children
to pitch a business idea to their parental investors.

There were several advantages to moving up the mini-exhibition to half
way through the a unit of inquiry:

The children get a chance to tap into the expertise - there are many
businesspeople in our parent community who offer that insight into how
the real world of business works.


Less pressure on the learners as there is no need for perfect artefacts of
learning to showcase.


The adults get an authentic opportunity to offer detailed,
personalised feedback.


The children get a chance to act on detailed, personalised feedback.
Home learning is highly relevant as the parents work with the children
to take action on their discussion.




The quality of the interactions with the children and parents was
obvious - with more of a focus on 'where to from here?' as families
developed marketing plans, offered recommendations to cut costs and
made deadlines in order to help the children to make their businesses
a success. We also had several parents offer up their expertise over
the coming few weeks as mentors as the children prepare for a market
day.

If schools want to support their parent community to better understand inquiry 
learning and see the depth of thinking and the progress their child is making, 
then we need to provide authentic opportunities for parents to be involved in 
the learning process.

Stephanie Thompson - Year 4 Teacher
Nexus International School
Singapore

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