Possible Enquiry Areas

Still early in my teaching career, I haven’t yet narrowed down to particular areas of interest but seem to be enthusiastic about too many things! I struggled to decide on a focus area for my probationer practitioner enquiry and seem to be repeating myself with the TLP. Something I find difficult is honing in on who the enquiry should be for. Is it for me to develop as a professional? Is it for the specific learners in my class? Or is it something that could potentially have a whole school application? I often get carried away trying to achieve the latter.

In order to try and narrow things down, I’ve tried to summarise my thinking below:

Social Emotional Learning / Health and Wellbeing

I’d like to do some sort of enquiry based in Health and Wellbeing or Social Emotional Learning, but I’m not sure what yet. Here are some thoughts:

  • Cooperative learning groups – Having attended the Cooperative Learning training last year, I implemented some of the whole-class strategies with my P2s. I’d like to take this on fully by embedding these strategies, as well as specific groups, in P6. I’m interested to see the impact this has on the children’s social skills, ability to work with those outwith their friendship groups, and their resilience in every day lessons.
  • Morning Greetings – I’ve already implemented this but could do more qualitative research on the children’s perspectives, etc.
  • Impact of Emotional Check Ins – I experienced this on placement where the class teacher followed the Jenny Mosley Circle Time approach, also utilising Bubble Time as a way of developing relationships with the children and ensuring they feel safe. This is something I plan on introducing anyway so my question is really whether to focus my enquiry on it.
  • “Feeling diaries” – this was something I heard about at the Portobello Learning Festival where a teacher shared some of the strategies she had used to build kindness in her classroom. The children spent a few minutes each morning writing how they were feeling and why. I introduced it with my P2s last year and noticed a huge difference in my understanding of how the children were feeling, their behaviours and the impact this had on their learning – I wonder whether it will be beneficial in P6.

Digital Technology / Leadership of Learning / Pupil Voice

During my probation year, I was involved in a number of activities to boost the digital teaching and learning in the school, which I would like to continue this year. Some ideas for enquiry related to digital technologies:

  • Pupil Voice – I have regularly utilised digital technology to collect the children’s views on learning and classroom culture. I’d like to look into different ways of doing this and seeing what impact it has on the children’s attainment and ownership over their learning. Could be linked to learning journeys??
  • Student Blogging (linked to Learning Journeys?) – since reading The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros, I’ve really wanted to try out student blogging. My class previously haven’t had a lot of technology time so I’d like to tap into their enthusiasm for it, possibly to develop their writing. I could start them off blogging with different prompts – there are some great ideas on this blog post. 
  • TextHelp Read&Write – I have introduced this for the children who struggle with spelling as well as the children who struggle to focus – could look into the impact of this.
  • Coding / Computing Science – this is something that I am championing in school, but if I could show a cross-curricular benefit to other teachers it might help with the case for fitting it into an already packed week – I could use weekly lessons to develop computational thinking skills and see if there is any impact in “core” lessons??
  • Parental Engagement – this could be very broad, looking at how digital tools improve whole school parental engagement, which I’ve had a few interesting conversations with my HT about, or could be more specific to EAL parents.
  • This year, I am running the Digital Leaders with a colleague, and am starting a junior STEM club. It’d be interesting to look into the impact on these children of being in these groups.

Assessment

Both my enquiry during the PGDE and the practitioner enquiry completed during my probation year were focused on assessment strategies within writing, both within Early (into First) Level.

Since starting this year in P6, there are so many things that are different from my last year in P2, but the amount of marking came as a shock. I’d like to build on what I learned in my previous two enquiries by looking into assessment of writing within Second Level. I have seen a lot on Twitter about the benefits of Whole Class Feedback and would like to try this out in my own class. This term, weekly writing lessons were self assessed, peer assessed, and teacher assessed using a Success Criteria grid which was traffic-lighted. Each piece then had 2 stars and a wish written by me. This is in line with my stage partner’s approach. If this was chosen as an enquiry, I could look to rotate groups each week and introduce one-to-one conferencing (like I did in P2), gradually moving to Whole Class Feedback. I’d need to read more about this, but I’d like to look into the benefits to the children’s learning compared with teacher time spent writing in jotters.

Adapted from a blog post, first published: 21st October 2019. Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/mrsclarepirie/2019/10/21/exploring-my-itch/

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