Unbabbled Episode 2: Project-Based Learning
Project/Inquiry-Based Learning, with educator Jessica Brock
Elementary educator Jessica Brock explains project/inquiry-based learning and discusses how it is an engaging and effective teaching method for children who learn differently.
Definitions of Terms:
Pragmatic language, also referred to as social communication, is the rules of how we use language, these often change within different social situations. *There are three main skill areas of pragmatic language: 1. Using language for a variety of purposes (asking, telling, greeting) 2. Changing language to fit the listener (speaking differently at home vs. work) 3. Following rules of conversation and storytelling (turn taking, topic maintenance).
Executive functioning includes the ability to focus, remember, plan, think critically, shift ideas and juggle multiple tasks. It is an umbrella term used to describe the mental abilities (or cognitive processes) necessary for flexible, goal-oriented behavior and self-control.
The Parish School groups students of varying ages and developmental levels into classes. For your reference, the following elementary levels are referenced in this episode: Primary Elementary (Ages 5 – 7 years), Lower Elementary (Ages 7 – 9 years), and Upper Elementary (Ages 9 – 11 years).
- “Teaching 21st Century Skills Through Inquiry/Project-Based Learning”
- “Inquiry/Project-Based Learning at The Parish School”
Stephanie: 00:01 Welcome Jessica. We're so happy to have you here talking with us today. Hi, I'm happy to be here to, well, let's start off with having you introduce yourself and what you do here at The Parish School.
Jessica: 00:11 I'm Jessica. As my introduction said, um, I am an elementary educator here. I work in upper elementary. I right now my class is third and fourth grade.
Stephanie: 00:22 So we're here today talking about inquiry-based learning for our listeners. Can you give them just a quick description about what inquiry-based learning is?
Jessica: 00:31 Sure. Uh, inquiry-based learning essentially puts the ownership of learning into the children's hands, uh, that is then structured and guided or as we like to say, facilitated by the teacher. So all inquiry units have the same general platform. They might not follow the same general theme though. So it'll start with an inquiry question. Like what is community? That's what our entire elementary program has been working on this year. Yeah. So it goes from inquiry question then to an event where you kind of introduced the idea in a multisensory way. Then you have an exploratory in a research phase. Then you have the opportunity for the children to put out a public product that they receive feedback and have an opportunity to reflect and student voice and choice is a really big part of inquiry-based learning.
Stephanie: 01:24 Interesting. So you say that it starts with a question. Is this a question that you develop or that the kids develop themselves?
Jessica: 01:30 It depends. So if we're thinking about how Parish launches, inquiry-based learning across the entire elementary program, realistically if you're in primary, the inquiry question is probably going to come from the teacher.
Stephanie: 01:43 And the primary is our like first and second and some kinder classrooms.
Jessica: 01:48 It's five to seven year olds. Yes. And often we start in upper elementary. So the um, third, fourth, fifth grade, 11 year old. Yes. Thank you. Um, we start with the um, inquiry question being given to them. The language of inquiry is often difficult and since this is new, uh, giving them that question at the beginning helps them start the wondering and the curiosity. And oftentimes then you can change the inquiry question based off of where your students are going. Like Laura Jackson, a teacher in the lower elementary, lower elementary and the type and the nine year old, she, um, has been focusing on sound and her students were so interested in sound that her inquiry question change based off of what they were interested in into, um, how can we show how we feel with sound? Yeah. Oh, which was really interesting to watch develop from pragmatic side of it to go into the science and the language
Meredith: 02:50 Pragmatic language is the use of language. I think we should clarify that for our listeners.
Jessica: 02:55 Yeah. Um, so it was a, that's a great question that um, who gives the driving question? Oftentimes it starts with the teacher and then kind of um, molds with what the students are interested in, the trajectory that they're taking the inquiry.
Meredith: 03:08 Very cool. What got you interested in inquiry-based learning?
Jessica: 03:11 Um, honestly it's hard teaching kids with speech and language differences and learning disabilities, um, a curriculum in the specific way that like in our math curriculum, when they differentiate it, it still isn't enough differentiation or, um, enough interest and engagement for the students. And so for me it was about how do I find a curriculum and a platform that is engaging and interesting to my students but still teaches them the content that they need to know. So making it a, that their disability or their disorder isn't the issue. It's the accessibility. So how do I make this content accessible to them? And inquiry-based learning in my experience has been the easiest, the most engaging and most like parachute the way. And by pair she, I mean it's multisensory, it's driven by the students. So it's whole child. Um, yeah, it's really fun.
Stephanie: 04:17 I love also that it gives the opportunity for children to play to their strengths because we have children, they have so many wonderful strengths that just don't always get a chance to be shown for sure. Because typically the end based project is a multiple choice test for sure. A written essay that is really difficult and it doesn't really allow our kids a way to express all the wonderful knowledge they have in their sure. For sure.
Jessica: 04:45 Um, and one of the things that I have really enjoyed is, um, some of the not directly taught but that come out of inquiry-based learning are things like collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, all of these executive function areas that are really hard for our kids that often teachers will avoid or teach in isolation. And with inquiry-based learning then it switches to a well what if your entire day is about your executive functions and about, like you were saying, Stephanie, the strength based, what are you good at, what do you need to work on and how can your curriculum help you?
Meredith: 05:25 Can you tell us a little bit about what inquiry-based learning looks like in our classrooms?
Jessica: 05:29 Yeah. Yeah. So, um, we stick to the Parish model of being multisensory, um, and in engaging. And so if we're talking about the overarching question, um, I'm going to use one of the inquiry units from last year to kind of show an example of what it might look like. We had chickens. And so it when we were learning about life cycles and so the entry event was we got chickens, chicken, eggs and an incubator. And we had um, it's a great company called the Garden Hen and they have written a curriculum and they come and visit. So farmer Mike and his wife, farmer Nicole came and visited our class and talk to the kids. And so they're getting the introduction of an expert and they also have the materials with the actual eggs that were in an incubator. And so that's the entry event that then we get to, they're asking so many questions, right? Farmer Mike Farmer Nicole brought their pine cone. Pine cone was a chicken, so they brought their therapy chicken pine cone and the kids are asking so many questions about it and we're writing them down as they're asking them. It's not a structured lesson where you're like, all right, now we're going to sit down and ask questions. What is naturally coming up for them? So what does pine cone eat? What is pine cone do? And then thinking about the eggs, well how long are they in the incubator for? What is the incubator do? Just all of these questions that are coming from the ex, the immersion experience, not from any structured lesson. And so then after that we have all of their questions up and we can start to categorize them. Getting into the speech and language of it is what's about chickens, what's about eggs, what's about pine cone? Just set separating things into categories. And then, um, we can start to research them either as a class or individually. And then after, um, after they've finished their research in my class, they did a PowerPoint presentation and they were super proud of it. They performed it for, they performed it, they presented it for the upper elementary, the other upper elementary class and some lower elementary at grandparents day. They chose to present it. Then they chose to, um, record it for their parents. Like they just wanted to share it with everyone because they were so, yeah, they were so excited and enthusiastic about it.
Jessica: 07:55 Um, and then once the eggs hatched, we had the chicks in our class for like two or three weeks. And so that was another opportunity to ask some more questions, do some experience experiments. We had our service dog and the, the chicks meet and we saw what happened there. We made some guesses. We built a little maze for the chicken. We're trying to figure out how to make it go through the maze and well maybe food will help it go through the maze or maybe um, uh, one of the kids was saying maybe if you kind of push it at first, so just, uh, the, well what if you did this, what if you did that building in that resilience, the uh, possibility thinking. Um, yeah, it was really fun.
Stephanie: 08:41 That's, that's awesome. Yeah. And is your whole day structured around this or do you have certain times of the day where you focus on a little bit more of those underlying core skills necessary to delve into reading and writing
Jessica: 08:56 yeah, so there are, morning is still a typical day, the pre inquiry lunch where we have individualized reading groups and then individualized math groups. And then, um, you know, we still have the arts and sciences and so in my class, at least the rest of the time is devoted to inquiry-based learning. And we use that as like an umbrella term. So even when the speech pathologist is in there, we call it inquiry-based learning because there's so much language involved in inquiry-based learning that everything we're doing is supporting that.
Meredith: 09:32 So we know our kids need a lot of direct teaching to learn concepts. They don't always, um, children with speech, language and learning differences don't always learn concepts in a natural way. Um, they need a little more direct teaching. So how do you build that in but still keep the process of inquiry-based learning true to what it is?
Jessica: 09:51 Yeah, great question. So, um, we actually just had a talk at south by southwest and HBIDA, where this was our entire focus and the HBIDA is a dyslexia conference. Um, and so our entire focus was, uh, when we implemented inquiry-based learning, we noticed that there was some difficulties and we didn't want to stop there because the things that were difficult for them or what are most important for them when we're talking about, um, language, uh, the collaboration aspect, um, critical thinking, making sure to incorporate all of the academic content. So all those are our core focus anyways, so we didn't want to give up. And so we started trying strategies and found that a lot of them work and that a lot of them, the language strategies that we already use can be adapted into an inquiry-based learning unit. Um, and so what often happens is you start with more teacher led research, particularly, um, if you're thinking about the younger students at Parish, it'll be a lot of whole group research that might not center on reading because one thing that we're having a lot of fun exploring is other kinds of research that you can research by observing.
Jessica: 11:09 You can research by taking things apart. You can research by going places by, uh, through virtual reality, which is super cool. Um, having an expert come on campus. Exactly. Having an expert come on campus. So there's all different kinds of research that you can do whole group. Um, and we in our talk week shared six different areas that we found, uh, the supports could fall under. So one of them is goal oriented observation. And when we think about goal oriented observation, what we're thinking about is looking at something and being able to talk about what's happening. And that's hard for our kids. I mean, generating questions can be hard for our kids. Yes, yes, Yup. And so a lot of modeling happens. Um, there's one, I think one of the misconceptions in an inquiry classroom is that because the teacher is not necessarily like the giver of all the knowledge that that means they stay are very standoffish.
Jessica: 12:04 Um, but we are part of the classroom, particularly in the beginning where we're looking at something and we're all wondering together. I mean, especially with if you go back to the chickens and the eggs, I didn't, I hadn't ever done that before. So I have so many questions too. Right. Um, and when the teacher is modeling and exploring also, um, it can encourage the kids and they kind of follow your teachers lead.
Stephanie: 12:30 I really love that because it takes the ownership of learning off of the teacher, just downloading information to the kids and then also it doesn't give that crutch of, Oh, if I don't know something, I just asked my teacher, she knows everything, she's going to give me the information and it puts a little bit of ownership on the kids of, well if I don't know something, I'm empowered to figure out ways to solve my problem and figure it out.
Meredith: 12:53 Exactly. Exactly. You talk about modeling. Can you explain a little bit what that is? What that looks like?
Jessica: 12:59 Yeah. So when, um, farmer Mike and Farmer Nicole came in, I had a lot of questions, so I'm modeling, um, one of the shifts in inquiry-based learning is the language. So there's a time and a place for asking wh questions, but when those are hard, wh questions is like, who, when, where, why, yeah. How, um, when you're asking your kids that if you're reading a book and you said, okay, what, what happened? Um, it becomes like a quizzing and for our kids we can often find that they might shut down or they might not understand the language of the question. And so flipping it too, instead of that, I'm asking things like, well, I wonder or noticing, so I wonder what pine cone eats or I noticed that pine cone has brown feathers.
Jessica: 13:48 I've never seen a brown feathered chicken before. Just thinking out loud so that the kids are like, oh yeah, it's okay to be thinking about these things. And now I'm tuning into my own thought process and I'm noticing that I'm wondering some stuff. Also, I remember when, um, inquire ed came to give us some training and I was in that professional development and they started with, here are some facts now generate questions. And I really struggled. I, you know, I don't have a language delay that's been diagnosed and I could not come up with questions. But once other people started sharing their own ideas and their own questions, then I was just writing down tons of questions. But once I had that model or that example, I was able for sure to really kind of go deeper and ask a lot more questions. Um, so most of the strategies that I can talk about, um, have to do with the language behind and supporting, asking, being able to ask questions.
Jessica: 14:50 So when we talk about goal-oriented observation, being able to look at something and think about what's happening. In order to ask questions, you have to think about what you know about the, what's happening in the picture, and then think about what you don't know. So you know how to ask questions. Um, one of our favorite ways of my class to do it is the New York Times picture of the week and cool story. And it's awesome. They take a picture that's been in their newspaper from some time in history. As long as the New York Times newspaper has been around. And you ask questions, you will say, um, what do you think is happening in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? And can you find anything else? And the pictures are weird and they're weird. They're weird on purpose because it's way more interesting to look at. There was one where it was a bunch of policemen walking down the street during the, um, the big nuclear scare scare and they're wearing what looked like trash bags because apparently that would protect them from radiation naturally. Um, but so there's a big, there's a picture of them walking down the street and it's in black and white and it's in the middle of New York City. And so it's, it's weird. There's lots of questions that you could ask. It's not like kids playing on a playground. Um, and oftentimes the teachers, when the picture pops up, we're like, what? You know, and so we're curious and they're all curious and um, yeah, they can start to ask questions. And I'm actually, they surprise me a lot of times that once they get going, the things that they'll notice and make connections with like, oh, the buildings or I see 'em, one of 'em was had a trolley cart and someone had been to New Orleans and had seen it there. And so they can make all these connections where they might not be able to figure out what's happening, but they can start to notice, make meaningful connections with their own knowledge to what's happening in the picture.
Stephanie: 16:44 Which is a skill that sometimes for kids with language and learning difficulties need to be directly taught is how to find something in what you're thinking about and make a connection to your personal life to build in those connections of wondering and figuring things out. And okay, it's the same but it's also different. What's the same? What can I learn about this to make a connection, but it's different. So what can I wonder about? What questions do I have?
Jessica: 17:10 Yeah. Um, and another example is we have the astronauts, which is a primary class, um, come to my classroom on Fridays. And we were playing Houston monopoly this morning and there were four different by use instead of the railroads. And one of the astronauts noticed that the symbol was the same on all of them. She couldn't read them, but she noticed that the symbol was the same for all the bayous. And so I read them and I was like, oh gosh, I wonder what that is. And she said, I don't know. And I said, okay, well let's get an iPad and we can look it up. And so we looked up white oak bayou. And um, we were looking at the picture and I said, Ooh, I notice buildings. What do you, and then we're looking at it together and we're figuring it out together. And then we looked at another bayou and we were talking about what we noticed was the same. So I was like, okay, so if we're thinking about this together, it sounds like a bayou, you might be a body of water. Do you think it's a body of water? And she was like, yeah. And so we're, but we're researching, right? We're researching what a bayou is. We're talking about bodies of water and she's learning about her community at the same time.
Meredith: 18:15 It sounds like it's such an active process for our children's yeah. Opposed to just sitting there passively and being told, yeah, a bayou was a body of water, but they're actively engaging in coming to that conclusion.
Jessica: 18:26 Exactly. And it falls under, um, and is related to other active learning techniques. So like discovery learning, which is kind of the same thing where you're noticing what is similar, what is different. And I'm making like broad observations, um, project based learning is also related to it. Uh, but yeah, you're right. These are all active where the student is no longer passive and just like accepting information, but they're having, um, they have a job in figuring it out on their own.
Stephanie: 18:54 That's cool. That really cool. What are some of the other techniques and challenges that you found helps or I guess just techniques that you found help support them?
Jessica: 19:05 Yeah. So this year was um, particularly difficult this year in terms of researching. So last year, um, most of my kids had a higher reading level and so there was more independence and being able to read and research on their own. This year I have a pretty large variability in it ranging from kinder to fourth grade, which is I think pretty typical for Parish classrooms. People are working on different things. And um, so note taking was really hard because last year we could do more a typical style notes where we're talking about outlines and we are writing things. But this year we really started to explore visualization and bi visualization. I mean when you hear something being read, what picture are you making in your brain?
Jessica: 19:55 And um, there was a presentation at the, um, at a speech conference this year about sketch notes and sketch notes. It's a very specific kind of note taking, but they said that kids who take picture notes over written notes are actually able to recall and retain information better. And so when you think about our kids who have, um, working memory issues and have a hard time retrieving and recalling information, being able to take that second processing step of if you hear something, making it into a picture and then being able to go back and independently read it. So for example, we were learning about service dogs this year because obviously Jill, she's adorable. Um, and some of the kids can, were taking written notes, but then some of the children couldn't independently, right? So they were drawing pictures and I might walk around and say, Oh, I notice you drew a dog here. Tell me a little bit more about what you drew. And they might say, um, the dog is opening the door or is a guide dog. So then I'm like, oh, okay, I'm going to label it here for you. And so what I've noticed is the students have picked up on how labeling is effective. And so now they're adding labels to their own drawings, which is really cool to see. And so then they can go back and independently use their notes instead of looking at a giant list of words that can be really overwhelming.
Stephanie: 21:27 Yeah. And that's one of those executive functioning skills that will last them through adulthood. I know that I had to develop my own way of note taking and figure things out when I was younger and it made me effective through high school and college and even now in as adult. Yeah. And you're building that in at such a young way. That's a strategy that's going to carry them so far. Yeah, definitely.
Meredith: 21:51 Stephanie, would you define executive functioning for us functioning is all of those skills that help you plan out and organize your thoughts.
Stephanie: 22:21 Your executive functioning skills are your brain's way of being an air traffic controller. It just figuring out everything that's coming in and what time, what's important, how to organize yourself. It's your memory, it's everything that's happening all at once and organizing it in your brain and getting it to come out like in real time. So your memory is a part of it. Your ability to focus on important information and blackout, not important information. It's your ability to just organize your space, organize your thoughts, figure out what steps to do next and what's important. It's basically everything that you need to do right now. [inaudible]
Meredith: 23:00 thank you. You've been a teacher here for how many years now? At Parish?
Jessica: 23:07 I always lose count, but I think quite a few. I yes.
Meredith: 23:10 And you were a teacher in our, in our classrooms before we implemented inquiry-based learning into our classroom. So my question is what changes have you seen in your students that you believe are happening because of what we're doing now? Yeah, that's an awesome question. And it's the reason why I really enjoy inquiry-based learning.
Jessica: 23:28 So prior to teaching, inquiry-based learning, um, I felt like I was always searching for ways to make really boring subjects. Interesting. Um, and I, I felt like I spent of my time doing that most of my planning time. Um, and then often teaching these subjects to kids, they might not retain it or be able to generalize it. And so what I'm noticing is when the information is taught in a meaningful contextual way, the kids are able to generalize it more, um, and use it in a functional way. Um, and for me personally as a teacher, I find it way more fun. I'm no longer spending a lot of my time, like I said, looking for ways to teach. Uh, like if we're talking about, um, history, right? I'm no longer looking for a, what I need to teach and ways to make it interesting because I'm going to take the children's lead and we can create experiences and opportunities to research together.
Jessica: 24:39 Um, and before it was also hard to think about. Okay. So I have 30 minutes for science here and I have 30 minutes for social studies here and I have 30 minutes for reading and 30 minutes for writing. And I can't go over that time because we have to have all of these subjects taught. The great thing about inquiry-based learning is you can put them all together. Um, so writing and reading is part of functional communication and all of the products in inquiry-based learning are supposed to be public. So we're talking about reading, writing, speaking, um, presenting. We just did a play. So acting, making things, um, all of it is a communication to others about what you've learned, which is so fun. And they love it. They really take ownership over it. Like I talked about the chicken PowerPoint, but then also we just finished a play on Texas history and I mean we spent a week, like two hours every day practicing and making props.
Speaker 1: 25:44 And I don't think that they would have been engaged and taken such ownership over it if it had been the teacher saying, okay, here's this play on Texas history and we're going to go perform it. Um, and we were reflecting back on it and at the end and the kids were so excited, they were like, I think I really liked this more than having a play given to me. And you know, I noticed that I couldn't, I didn't have to use my script to say x, Y and Z and um, I didn't feel scared and just being able to reflect on it more because it was meaningful to them and it was purposeful to their lives. That's awesome. Sounds like it's increasing self awareness and confidence as well, which is really important for long term success of our student for sure.
Stephanie: 26:28 And more and more research is showing us that if kids are excited and into something and want to learn about it and it's in a functional way, the meaningful context, as you said, it sticks better to them than if they're just having all this information downloaded.
Jessica: 26:45 It might not be meaningful. It might not make connections on their own inside their brain for it to be able to really stay. Um, I've also noticed that behaviors have changed. So, um, children who might have a hard time sitting for a long period of time. Um, inquiry in general is a, it's a dynamic, so you're not sitting, you might be getting up and moving. Movement is definitely part of it. Moving from research to direct instruction or if you're having a direct experience, um, kids will often ask to, uh, go back and have the same learning experience over. So for example, if we're thinking about, um, we were learning about the Oregon trail and our entry experience was playing the Oregon trail and the kids would play it for long after we finished the inquiry unit. I'm not just because it's fun, but because now they have so much knowledge and it makes so much more sense to them.
Stephanie: 27:40 Um, which is true because that game was available to me when I was younger and I had no idea what the Oregon trail and so I'd play it. But none of that information stuck with meant nothing. Yeah. Game.
Jessica: 27:53 And, uh, with the active listening techniques, like, um, note taking. So being engaged in processing the information instead of just like staring off at a teacher. Um, their attention is increased. There's much less, um, off task behavior cause there was a countability exactly. You're not just having us tell you about something. You are an active participant in this whole group. Yes. Accountability to the group to be a member of it that participates. Yeah, exactly. Um, yeah, the community aspect of it is huge. Um, especially because we'll do rubrics and so a rubric will be generated, at least in my class by the students. And we'll talk about what our goal is for the day.
Jessica: 28:35 Like, okay, we're going to watch a video on the Oregon trail and we're going to take notes on it and then we'll come up with a plan. So again, that goes back to the executive functionings, the strategic thinking of this is my goal, what steps do I need to take to complete it? Um, and then what went well and what do I think should go differently? And that's where our rubric comes in. And so if we're thinking about sitting and listening, um, a lot of the social learning that we teach here will come in where, let's say the speech pathologist has just taught something about whole body listening. Um, then we'll include that in the rubric. And so it gives the students, um, some accountability that, like you were talking about Stephanie and the opportunity to functionally use the skills that they're being taught, um, outside of the inquiry units.
Speaker 1: 29:22 Um, and so then afterwards they go back and they're filling out the rubric and let's say it's something like, I finished my work on time. Oftentimes the answer's no. Yeah. And that's hard, especially when it's like two or three people that have made it. So we didn't finish our goal on time and then we'll talk about it, right? Like, okay, well why didn't we and what can we do differently next time? And if you're thinking about a student who like is getting frustrated because their pencil keeps breaking in, is having a really big reaction, um, we'll talk about that as a community. And so like, okay, this is a problem for you, but let's try and figure out more, um, community based way for you to solve your problems. So what could you do instead? And instead of the teacher leading that discussion, um, the students can help and have that circle of suggestion and there now the whole team is problem solving and working together to um, make the community run more smoothly.
Stephanie: 30:21 Yeah, I like that aspect of it being a community. Yeah. Anything else you want to discuss about?
Jessica: 30:28 Um, yeah, so assessments was a question we got asked a lot at the two conferences
Stephanie: 30:35 because you don't have a curriculum and then check off their curriculum and give them these 10 multiple choice questions. How do you figure out what they're learning?
Jessica: 30:43 And so one of the ways that we have started assessing is, um, something suggested by the Harvard Initiative for learning and teaching. And it has to do with concept maps. So when we think about concept maps, you've got your main ideas of bubble in the middle and then the webs that come off of it. And so you can do a pre assessment for what did you know, let's say we're talking about our service dogs, what did you know about service dogs before? Um, and they'll have the web and then when you finish your unit and you have all your notes, that's key because if our kids have a hard time recalling it doesn't, it doesn't make sense to then take away all of the information that they've worked.
Jessica: 31:24 So hard to record. So it, it, you can use your notes in this, in my class. Um, and then in the other upper elementary class, um, and um, then you use your notes to then now talk about what you know about the same concept. And so afterwards you can sit back and you can count the points. And by points I mean different bubbles that come off of it. And so you, and then you might be able to connect bubbles. So if we're thinking about service dogs, um, a bubble that would come off of, it might be kinds of service dogs. And so then you might have like police dogs, guide dogs, seeing eye dogs, and then another bubble might be they wear different colored vests. And so then you might be able to connect the different service dog with the color of vest. And so now we're talking about a lot of language relationships, categorizing background information.
Jessica: 32:16 Um, it's really cool. Um, the other upper a munch out upper elementary teacher, Heather, she is, I'm also a speech pathologist. And so when we were diving into this together, for me from a teaching perspective, it was impressive to see the amount of knowledge that was gained. But then her and Molly, uh, Weisselberg the classroom SLP, they gave that Slp, um, perspective of, there is a lot more knowledge, but there's also a lot more language involved in this. And it was really cool to see the growth from all the students. Yeah. Because the best way to learn vocabulary is to make connections with other things that you know, exactly. Categorize. Exactly. Um, and we use the upper elementary uses, um, came Bu, uh, which is our communication platform. And we use the storyboard to write like a little newsletter about what's happening in the classroom. And that is a great portfolio assessment to see when the kids walked in and they're used to writing, you know, they're like, okay, how many sentences do I have to write? And they're very shy. Do I have to do three guys? And they're very short and truncated. Um, we had art, we painted. It was fun. It was fun. It was cool. Yeah. Um, and now that they have all of these notes to refer back to, we're seeing students write paragraphs about things that they've learned instead of just defaulting to arts and sciences. And for me, when the students defaulted to arts and sciences, instead of talking about what's happening in the classroom, I felt like it's because they didn't feel the same joy and feel the same purpose that they were feeling in the arts and sciences. So for me as a teacher, it makes me feel like I've done my job, that they're having fun and they want to share what they're learning and they can share what they're learning.
Stephanie: 34:04 And the other neat thing about Kaymbu that it offers like picture cue as well. Often it does, it does, do you mean like a picture of Q four? The student for their writing have a picture of them actively involved in that and they can refer back to that and get somebody some more information that they can go back and refer to. And it helps them generate more ideas because once they've gotten used to be looking at pictures and noticing and they've talked about, then they can use that and be like, oh, I'm noticing that we did this and Oh, I'm remembering now that we did this as well and can help jumpstart. Yeah. For sharing longer sentences.
Jessica: 34:40 Um, another form of assessment is the rubrics. And so, uh, at the beginning of the year, we often start with the teacher modeling working through a rubric. So, okay, if I'm thinking about whole body listening, this is what I would be thinking about. And oftentimes the students will default to, I do everything all the time just because they've never been asked to reflect on a 30 or hour minute chunk. That's difficult. And so the teacher would say, okay, well I remember that I asked you twice to think about me or stop playing with the carpet or whatever. And so if I'm thinking about that, I don't know if I would say all the time, do you think you would say all the time? And so just kind of working through what their answer on the rubric would be. Um, another assessment that we use is, um, the pragmatics checklist. So thinking about, um, the SLP coming in, observing a lesson. This happened in Heather Hillary's class, um, where she put a box of cooking materials on the desk and the kids were breaking up into groups and figuring out how to make this cake and the classroom SLP, um, Molly sat in with the checklist and was writing down what she observed.
Speaker 1: 35:56 So she observed them working in groups. If she saw, um, specific difficulties when working in a group, if she saw them, problem solving, if she saw them, um, making suggestions, acting as a leader, all of these a really functional ways to communicate and relate and make connections to other humans, which is so important and difficult for our kids. Um, yeah. And so we're actively exploring other ways of assessment. I think one thing that's really fun about inquiry-based learning is we have this creativity and whole team approach to where, um, yeah, we can collaborate on ways to support our students all together.
Stephanie: 36:32 Yeah. That's awesome. Yeah. Thank you. Um, we've been asking all of our guests a question at the end of the episode. If you had one important thing to share with families, a big piece of advice, like an elevator pitch, what would it be?
Jessica: 36:47 One thing that I would think about, um, is our students will be able to learn most of the things that they want to learn from the Internet. And here at Parish, it's really cool because we teach them how to find out the information that they want to know instead of telling them what they need to know.
Stephanie: 37:11 So it sounds like you're saying your advice would be to help support your child and figuring out how to solve their own problems and learning more instead of just going to who they see as the adult to download the information for them.
Jessica: 37:29 We're building a students who love to learn, and when you love to learn, you can teach yourself anything. And when you have the tools and the strategies to learn what you need to know, then I mean, you really can learn anything that you want. So what they're learning here at Parish goes beyond Parish.
Stephanie: 37:51 Yeah. You're developing life-long learners.
Jessica: 37:53 Exactly. Children who learning is so hard. [inaudible] that's a great thing to foster and all kids for sure. Well, thank you very much. It was such a pleasure to learn more about this. Thanks Jessica.