Inquiry-Based Learning P&D group

Welcome to Traralgon College Inquiry-Based Learning

 An important aspect of inquiry-based science is the use of open learning. Open learning has no prescribed target or result which students have to achieve. There is an emphasis on the individual manipulating information and creating meaning from a set of given materials or cirumstances. For example, in many conventional traditional science experiments, students are told what the outcome of an experiment will be, or is expected to be, and the student is simply expected to ‘confirm’ this. Another example would be to provide “the big idea” as a hook to stimulate ideas from class.

WebQuests webstie: Quest Garden:


Talking about Differentiation

Differentiation-“Taking the Scenic Route”

In the Handbook for the Inspection of Schools published by OFSTED, differentiation is defined as:

 “The matching of work to the differing capabilities of individuals or groups of pupils in order to extend their learning.”

Whether a class is setted or mixed ability, it will have a range of different abilities. In their published reports OFSTED have made it clear that differentiation involves recognising the variety of individual needs within a class, planning to meet those needs, providing appropriate delivery and evaluating the effectiveness of the activities in order to maximise the achievements of individual students.

1. Differentiation By Objective

The same general lesson objective but more specific targets ie

“By the end of the lesson:

ALL of you will…………

Most of you will……….

SOME of you will……..

2. Differentiation by Content

The pupils study different materials within the same topic area but do the same activities.

3. Differentiation by Activities

The pupils study the same content but do different activities.

4. Differentiation by Negotiation

The pupils study different materials within the same topic area and also do different activities. Teachers help pupils to select appropriate materials.

5. Differentiation by Support*

The pupils study the same materials, do the same activities, but receive different amounts of support from the teacher or from extra printed information.

6. Differentiation by Extension*

The pupils study the same materials and do the same activities. Extension work is given to the most able after they have finished the basic activities.

7. Differentiation by Response*

The pupils are set open-ended assignments that can be interpreted at different levels.

8. Differentiation by Group Work

The pupils work in mixed ability groups. Pupils help each other by working together and interpreting the tasks at different levels.

9. Differentiation by Gradation*

The pupils are given the same information and activities. The activities become progressively more difficult. The pupils work through the activities at different rates and therefore only the more able do the more difficult tasks.

10. Differentiation by Role

The pupils carry out different activities depending on the role they are playing in a simulation. The roles are matched to the abilities, aptitudes and needs of the pupil.

Another Viewpoint:

Four Ways to Differentiate

Differentiation can occur in the content, process, product or environment in the classroom.

1. Differentiating the Content/Topic

Content can be described as the knowledge, skills and attitudes we want children to learn. Differentiating content requires that students are pre-tested so the teacher can identify the students who do not require direct instruction. Students demonstrating understanding of the concept can skip the instruction step and proceed to apply the concepts to the task of solving a problem. This strategy is often referred to as compacting the curriculum. Another way to differentiate content is simply to permit the apt student to accelerate their rate of progress. They can work ahead independently on some projects, i.e. they cover the content faster than their peers.

2. Differentiating the Process/Activities

Differentiating the processes means varying learning activities or strategies to provide appropriate methods for students to explore the concepts. It is important to give students alternative paths to manipulate the ideas embedded within the concept. For example students may use graphic organisers (maps, diagrams or charts etc) to display their comprehension of concepts covered. Varying the complexity of the graphic organizer can very effectively facilitate differing levels of cognitive processing for students of differing ability.

3. Differentiating the Product

Differentiating the product means varying the complexity of “the product” that students create to demonstrate mastery of the concepts. Students working at a lower level may have reduced performance expectations, while students at a higher level may be asked to produce work that requires more complex or more advanced thinking.

4. Differentiating by Manipulating the Environment or Through Accommodating Individual Learning Styles

Even though this approach looks at learning styles in vastly different ways they all have merit for some children. However, an amalgamation or blending of these concepts is probably more effective than any one approach.

To include:

  • change the lighting or sound levels, to eliminate visual distracters
  • provide a more casual seating arrangement
  • Varying teaching strategies makes sure that students will occasionally learn in a manner compatible with their own learning preference


Introduction of the Coaches Corner

Welcome to the new and exciting Coaches Corner, I will be posting updates on on what I am up to in the coaching relm and any opportunities you might like to take up for some coaching.

So far this year I have been working with the PE team in their year 12 classes around trying to improve our predicted data results. As you are probably aware for coaching to be successful their must be a level of trust and confidentialilty between coach and coachee so I cannot discuss any specifics with you all but I can say that one of the aspects that I have been looking at is student engagement in class. The level of student engagement is something that I find really interesting to look and I feel that it gives us as educators a snapshot of whether the tasks and teaching strategies we are using are having an impact on students.

This is an area that I would love to get into as many classes as possible to get a snap shot of the engagement level in your class. Please catch up with me or send me an email if you are interested in me collecting some data on engagement in any of your classes.

Whenever we do anything around engagement the important aspect is having a shared understanding of what engagement looks like in classes at Traralgon College. So, what does/should engagement look like???

VCAA briefing on Australian Curriculum May 2011

Implementation of Australian Curriculum in Victoria – David Howes (VCAA) 13 May 2011

Hi folks,

I took these notes at the conference I attended last week.  I also took some notes on Brian Caldwell’s assessment of the Education Revolution. (Sorry about the formatting… can’t seem to remove the bugs)
1. Australian Curriculum is not truly ‘national’.  More a work in progress.
2. Victorian students perform above national average in reading writing BUT not in Civics & Citizenship.  Not a lot of civics taught in Victoria! 493.8 compared to 501.7…. Knowledge matters! Kids don’t know what they need to learn.
3. Australian Curriculum is not about pedagogy – it’s about the ‘what’

4. December 2010 MCEEDYA decision… Content endorsed… For  what?  Next stage of substantial implementation from 2013 … It’s very vague but work is still being done
5. Caveat from Coalition in Victoria is that we should not settle for a low denominator….  (Minister Dixon)
6. Victoria -learning is a developmental continuum – VELS –  NSW doesn’t agree with this… DEBATE 
7. Reporting – we are not going to get to national agreement 
8. Syllabus – NSW
9. It won’t collapse this time because ACARA is very well established… Naplan etc.
10. Remember that vels has shaped much of what is included in the ac
11. Deep learning > google knowledge
12. Skills will still be assessed in Victoria… Thinking… Ict… Creativity
+  ethical behavior and intercultural understandings… Respect agenda now in 

schools = general capabilities
13. Asia, aboriginal cultures and sustainability 
14. Senior secondary can’t be accredited until states agree to relinquish control.  Not likely to

 be implemented until later in decade… Too many differences b/w states.  Vet already national. VCe not before 2014… 

VCAL could become ACAL

15. In 2013 all schools will be required to report on ac standards as part of existing reporting 
16. VCAA view – year 3 should be replaced with ‘level’
17. Year 10 will remain a ‘pathway’ year.
18. Australian Curriculum can be delivered in a range of ways -not prescribed subjects/times etc. 

Times included in documents are indicative
KEY-revised vels structure to reflect full Australian curriculum