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The Final Post - Reflection
Woah! I made it! And like the Warrior Pose, I feel so strong and even though my head feels slightly full and about to explode, it just means it is full of so much new information - which is fantastic!
My final reflection will be geared about Carol Kuhlthau's ISP (Information Search Process) which involves six stages that information seekers often experience. Within each stage, it encompasses 3 categories of experience: the affective (feelings), the cognitive (thoughts) and the physical (actions) that will each be common to each stage. Central to the ISP is the notion that uncertainty, both affective and cognitive, increases and decreases in the process of information seeking(Kuhlthau, 2004).
I will be outlining similarities and differences I felt along my information seeking experience in close reference to the above 6 stages and my primary and initial questions.
In regards to reflecting back on my theme, I was very happy with my underlying theme of Yoga. I think it had an uncanny way of keeping me calm (most of the time!) by seeing my images, reflecting on my positions throughout my journey and as I do Yoga a couple times a week I felt this was a very good theme to choose as it not only is a calming topic, I relate to it in my everyday life. I especially like how my positions match exactly how I was feeling along the way. Initially - Downward Dog began by me making sure I put my head down and bottom up! Cobra Pose ensured I was in the right position to tackle the searching head on, chest puffed out and take up an aggressive stance! The Tree Pose was very fitting as I did feel taller and accomplished with everything that I had done and how many resources I actually found. The Warrior is very relatable as I feel so strong now and proud with everything that I now know and how I can go and teach someone else what I have learnt - something to feel very good about. I especially love what is next, the Corpse as it means I can now reflect on other peoples blogs and be able to help them and congratulate them on their hard work.
Method behind my search questions (primary and questions along the way)
Primary Question: What does a good inquiry Maths and IT lesson look like and how do we promote students self-efficacy in these departments?
Google: How do you implement the inquiry approach into a school that teaches a different way?
Google Scholar: How is IT and Inquiry linked in the classroom?
A+ Education: How does the IB differ? What does an IB PYP classroom look like?
ProQuest: How can you make Maths more teachable in an Inquiry based way? How do they link?
Social Media: Primary Question
I decided on my Primary Question to be geared about both Maths and IT because these two subjects are related to my current working environment. I have always lacked confidence when teaching maths and from next term I will be the IT teaching for Grade 3 - 8. I always struggled with Maths and confidence when I was in Primary and High School so I wanted to investigate how to get children to overcome this and do more re-search on the inquiry method of teaching Maths because it appears to have had wonderful results. IT you can always incorporate into inquiry learning but I wanted to find some resources and information that backs up this theory and find more ways to teach IT from an Inquiry approach.
I decided to do things differently rather than stick with search for 'Inquiry learning' on every search engine. I could have stayed with the same question throughout, but I thought it would be more worthwhile and I would learn more if I tried a different question on each engine, just to mix things up and see what each search engine could do with a variety of different terms. I feel this worked well as I learnt so much about my different questions and It gave me more of an understand of different areas of inquiry which as a result, made my 'further questions' based around different topics.
Affective: This part of the ISP is definitely true of how I was feeling, a massive feeling of uncertainty. I had infact been lucky enough to see Kath Murdoch in action in a few classrooms when I did my final prac at Canberra Girls Grammar School, an IB PYP school, so I was semi-familiar with the teachings of Inquiry. A few of the schools I have taught at are inquiry, project based so I did have an awareness of the Inquiry Learning of the world; however, expert searching - No idea. I started by having a look at some of the examples from the previous year and to be honest, this just make my anxiety ten times worse as all of their pages seemed to me written in a foreign language, so I promptly closed them all and thought I would start from the beginning, do my own research and create my own blog without worrying about the content of the examples - one step at a time. The Google + community was a massive help and comfort for me because it allowed me to see I wasn't in on this journey all alone and there was always someone else on the end of the 'line' to try and help in any way possible. Living here in South Africa, I found myself saying an African Proverb over and over .... How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time ....
Cognitive: My thoughts at this time were very vague. I knew that I needed to go through lecture notes, read up on expert searching and watch a few Youtube clips, but until I started to put my thoughts into action I would be going no where. Even though I felt vague about the topic, the more I researched what 'expert searching', the more familiar I become with the topic. At this point, I realised the need for information and the need to re-search a lot before I began my journey.
Physical: There wasn't a huge amount of action yet. My action was to discuss with my colleagues if they have used Expert Searching before and also if they had any recommendations for good website platforms. I also thought out a list of study goals, time frame and possible approaches to this topic.
Affective: I started to feel more a little bit more ready and informed to start thinking about HOW to start. I knew that I felt insecure and self-conscious about teaching Maths so I knew I wanted to structure my question around that. I also felt that I wanted to try something different in terms of blogging as I had used Wordpress before at University. I wasn't sure this was such a good idea as I should have perhaps kept with what I knew, but if not to try new things now when I am studying, then when? I am also going to be the IT teacher for 2 terms, so I also knew that I wanted to find more about how IT teaching fits in with Inquiry learning.
Cognitive: My thoughts at this point were that I still wasn't sure if my questions would be 'searchable', which to be honest, I didn't even know what it meant. I saw a few comments from Mandy on previous years posts so I knew that I needed to be specific and not make my questions too wordy. I knew that my re-search of my topics were only just starting and there was so much more ahead.
Physical: I felt ready and more optimistic about starting my search and seeking new information. I also drew up my final study plan and dedicated a certain amount of time to search search topic. I had a look at all the rubrics and the assessment weighting of each task and made a physical map of how I would tackle this task. I knew that I was ready and my choice was a good one that answered my questions and would hopefully cure my insecurities. I did a quick skim for information and felt happier about the road I was starting on.
Affective: According to Kuhlthau, this is the stage where things are starting to get complicated and feeing of frustration, doubt and confusion set in. This is especially important to remember when teaching children that there are the feelings they will start to experience. To be honest, I was very well supported on my initial starting point with searching Google and Google Scholar as there were many helpful videos from Youtube and also a video with a voice over by our lecturer Mandy Lupton. This helped a lot as I made sure I did one step at a time. I felt frustrated because I wasn't sure how to set out my results as of yet and I also needed to fiddle around with annotating screen shots and working out my blog. I knew that it wasn't going to be easy so I felt that I just needed to try a few different search string and take my first attempt at Boolean Operators in a positive light. Google, Google Scholar and A+ Education were all part of the exploration stage for me because I did feel a sense of frustration and doubt as I was going along.
Cognitive: What helped me along the way is that I knew people were experiencing the same feelings by actively monitoring the Google + community and making sure I did my best to answer questions of doubt and frustration of my colleagues. Each step I took with Google, Google Scholar and A+ Education was a step in the right direction as I was building on my knowledge as I went. I was lovely forming a point of view on my subject and because I change my question every time, this allowed me to build on my knowledge of different terms and apply my new information to each step.
Physical: One part that I needed to change was my term implementation as this seemed to be posing a problem. I had quite a bit of difficulty with A+ Education with some of my search strings but I was really proud of myself when I used my past knowledge and new information I had collected about Boolean Operators to come out of this problem and fix it. I didn't want to just trial and error because this is not what expert searching is about, I wanted to make sure I was searching in a step-by-step fashion and building on my search strings as I went. During this stage I did a lot of reading and researching about my topic. This was extremely helpful as it meant I could add my rescues to my Social Curation as I went. This meant that I could choose the best resources after each stage and start putting together the selection of the best resources, rather than doing it at the end and trying to remember which resource was the best. I needed to keep a positive mind, because this was by far the hardest part of all. I thought at times I was doing everything right but it just wasn't working. I was looking forward to the time I would feel happy with what i was producing and knowing I could successfully search like an expert.
Affective: From the moment I started ProQuest and Social Media I knew that I felt more confident. I didn't have to think about what I was searching, I just knew what search string and Boolean Operators to use and started straight away. It could have been the fact that I found ProQuest and Social Media much easier to navigate than A+ Education, but I still felt a sense of relief and happiness about what I was producing and the resources I was finding and felt confident when I was adding each resource to my curation. I not only felt a sense of clarity with the search strings and how to search properly, but my specific idea of what I really felt passionate about with inquiry learning was coming through - my link to Maths and IT.
Cognitive: I came across no obstacles in my ProQuest and Social Media apart from the occasional search string that didn't produce a huge amount of results. This didn't matter so much as some searches that produce a couple of resources actually turned out to be some of the best. I knew that I was searching better and finding relevant resources and this ultimately gave me the confidence to think deeper about my primary question and the place I was on the ISP. I could almost say that I was finding the process fun because I now felt more confident, happy and excited about the information Iw as learning and how I now had learnt so much along the way. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and knew I was now producing good quality work.
Physical: During this phase, according to Kuthlau you haven't started documenting what you are finding. In my case, due to it being an assignment, I had already started documenting the process and my resources so I could add them into my curation, knowing they are top resources.
Affective & Cognitive: I felt a slightly frustrated because I now knew what I should have initially focused on throughout my searches and that I perhaps should have kept the primary question my search for all platforms. I did focus on Maths and IT in most of my end searches but because I found so many fantastic resources on Maths, IT and Self-Efficacy and finally saw a focus for these topics, I should have searched for that on Google and Google Scholar instead of Implementation. This wasn't such a big issue though because I had collected many resources on what I wanted and felt I had a really good selection of top quality sources.
I was happy that I had found a topic of interest and one that I could talk to colleagues about and direct them towards my curation. I felt proud with that I had collected and knew that many people felt the same about Maths so I enjoyed knowing that I will be helping people with their Maths demons as well.
Physical: I had kept all my sources saved and I had read them all so it was now a matter of learning how to use Scoop.It! and documenting my research.
Affective & Cognitive: I entered this stage with immense satisfaction. I could really see my journey and knew that although it started off with negative and de-flated feelings, I felt I had come such a long way and found some very helpful and relevant resources to assist my feelings towards Maths and IT. I felt more satisfied, not only for my own learning, but the fact that I can now help many others overcome their worry about Maths teaching. It was also lovely for me to read about how I can help children concur their negative feelings around Maths and how using IT and an Inquiry Method of teaching can really help them.
Physical: When it came down to writing my Response I was slightly worried that I couldn't write abut my topic as well as I would intend. Not only did I have these feelings, but when I had almost finished my Response - I lost the whole thing! My feelings of excitement quickly become an incredibly, overwhelming feeling of being deflated and my sails were just blown flat! I posted on the Google + community and I had a lot of support back which was nice. I couldn't dwell or stay stuck in my ball of tears, I needed to get back into my Downward Dog stance and write it all again! I feel that I covered what I wanted to say well and because I had carefully chosen my curation resources, these really helped me write my response. This stage also involved a HUGE amount of reading, because I knew that to create a good 'curation' I needed to read all my resources in full to be able to include them and confidently recommend them to others.
Self Assess and reflect - Something I do very well!
Although this journey was not only to help me, I feel this journey of mine can help not only me but students and other colleagues. Many University subjects we take part in is for us to learn about certain topics so we can apply our knowledge in the classroom or in a leadership capacity; however, I feel this assessment has been beneficial for everyone and it is knowledge we can share with the community and potentially, the world.
When I think about how I can share this journey with students, I now have an awareness of the rollercoaster of emotions they must be going through. I feel as a future IT teacher I can now help them build up their necessary skills to be able to search effectively and start with a sense of confidence before they begin their information seeking. I think one of the reasons I felt feelings of doubt and frustration is because, to be honest, I didn't know how to search properly. I would just type in what I was looking for in Google and press enter. I can now teach children how to perform a search that will produce results that are far more reliable and specific to what they are looking for. Not only am I more aware of the struggles students feel with Maths, I know for sure that an Inquiry Teaching approach will engage students more and give them a feeling of accomplishment rather than failure. Inquiry learning in Maths enables students to realise it isn't a topic based on only marks, but it can be fun, exciting and give them skills to become life long learners. IT is a tool that gives these students the ability for freedom in the way they present their information. By showing students how to use IT in a creative manner, it gives them an option to present in their own way which also gives them confidence and a positive attitude towards assessment.
After a few discussions at work, there are already teachers from both primary school and the senior school that are interested in viewing my curation. I didn't realise how important my hard work was until fellow colleagues were generally interested in what I was doing and shared the same feelings as I did towards Maths and IT. This assignment and search journey I have been on, has created a resource in itself that will help give educators ideas on how to teach Maths and IT in an Inquiry way and build up student's self-efficacy at the same time. Being exposed to the ISP has given me the skills to be an observer and understand on a personal level what students and teachers go through when they search for information. Everyone can relate to the feelings of the ISP no matter how much of an 'expert' they are. It shows that it is natural to have these feelings and that you are not alone when things do not work out of the right information isn't easy to access. I am really happy I can now help other teachers in these domains and point them towards my curation for help.
What next? What am I still thinking about?
Now that I have started my Inquiry Journey, it will definitely not stop here. I now want to look deeper into the world of Inquiry by finding out the answers to the following questions:
The Yogi of Inquiry Learning and Re-search
Yoga Pose: The Warrior