Experiential inquiry based learning


experiential learning – make it meaningful, robust to get engagement.

ask students to use their own voice

inquiry learning approach to challenging students

allow kids to fail as part of the learning process

ask students what they can do with the information that is all around them, how can they be critical of it, how can they compare it to what they already know

experiential learning – student voice – embracing failure


Experiential learning and integrated curriculum

Reading a lot about unschooling and the approach to learning in these families and communities I have noticed a common theme.  Learning through experience. In learning through experience children gain a greater level of understanding, they can make connections to things that they already know and can add value and meaning to what they are experiencing.

Experience, by nature, does not isolate curriculum areas, it integrates them.  All knowledge comes to play within one activity giving a rounded, more complete understanding.

Being somewhere where curriculum integration is the norm, is championed and celebrated gives me both opportunity and challenge when it comes to planning rich learning experiences for my class. We have the opportunity to follow a question, fully work through a cycle of enquiry with few limitations.  I have the challenge of planning for the unknown while still maintaining focus in the form of learning intentions and expected outcomes form my students.  A bonus in working this way is that activities and learning are differentiated through the nature of experiences and prior knowledge and the benefit for students is huge in terms of being able to access learning at their level within all classroom activities.

My challenge is to marry paper with practice.

I enjoy reading this blog and in particular this post that discuss the value of experiential learning.


Enviroschools Workshop Thames

What a great day!

I was able to attend the Enviroschools workshop held in Thames today and have a fantastic time exploring community gardens, community orchards and planting, adobe buildings and discussing this years focus ‘Global Problems, Local Solutions’.

Brightsmile Garden Thames

Great inspiration for our community garden creation.  Effectively managed beds in the shape of a mandala.  Areas dedicated to tropical plants and protected/sheltered by feijoas and citrus.

Garden beds managed with a permaculture focus using chop and drop method for weeds to feed the soil with hot compost being created directly onto garden beds.

The outdoor area including an earth built shed gave great inspiration for our outdoor classroom plan at school.

This would be a great place for our students to visit.


Student blogging

Colin and I have discussed the possibility of setting up individual student blogs.

My students really enjoy our class blog and have enjoyed writing it together.  I am looking at more ways to give students the opportunity to write and to get feedback on their writing and am considering using kidblog to give each student their own online space to write.  This article gives great advice on how to get started and how to discuss online etiquette to really boost the quality of the writing being done online.

3 Tips for Successful Student Blogging

Ideally this could be linked to our class blog and be a way of collating student evidence as a type of portfolio.

Our class blog can be found here http://www.waikino.school.nz/room-2 though what I find is that there is minimal engagement in the blog from class families.  By adding individual student blogs where parents are linked to their child’s work we may be able to increase traffic to the school blog/website and therefore their child’s learning.

Collaborative journals.

When searching ideas around writing and improving both engagement and motivation for writing in my classroom I found this article which I could relate to.  Having used whole class journals in the past it was interesting to revisit the idea and apply it to my new class and the change in age group.


I have used whole class journals in the past and the students have enjoyed them.  I really agree with the author’s statement that at times you just need to take a break from your set piece and write on a different topic to give you renewed motivation.  In my past class students were very proud of their journals and it was a great way for students to share their writing with others.  They were well read during silent reading time too.

I would like to have the journals be ‘whole class’ journals, ie: written in by all students on a set topic chosen by the class at the beginning of the year.  The aim is fluency and adding detail freely when writing about shared experiences, and increasing opportunities to write.

My concern at this age level is that there is a large spread of abilities within the class, I want motivation and confidence to increase and wonder whether the class dynamic may mean that these journals are used as a tool against other students?

I have purchased 4 journals to use in class and intend to have students choose their own topic for writing in them.  Having a smaller number of students I can see that we could use these journals repeatedly, improving our writing each time and they could become a record of whole class goals being applied during all writing opportunities.

Child’s views on learning

Some holiday reading that is written in kids speak, using child’s language and giving their views on classrooms, teaching and learning.

Holmes, J (1999) Learn, Think, Live – Mike Scadden’s amazing new method of learning.

I’m wondering whether I know this about the students I teach? Have I ever asked them what they think of our classroom environment, how they like to learn or how they’d like to be taught?

In most cases I make a judgement about their style of learning as I get to know them, I observe them in different situations and adjust my program and classroom in response.

What sticks out for me is the highlights for students, the things that I didn’t expect and the things that I would only know about my day, lesson, classroom etc. by asking.

I would like to read this with my class to prompt discussion and to them confidence in their responses.