Community of Learners

We Are All Learners

Community of Learners: Summary

The learning community recognizes that education is a social endeavour benefiting all its members individually and collectively

A strong learning community “sets the ambience for life-giving and uplifting experiences necessary to advance an individual and [all its members]."

Common relational characteristics of learning communities are (1) sense of belonging, (2) interdependence or reliance among the members, (3) trust among members, and (4) faith or trust in the shared purpose of the community (Lenning and Ebbers 1999).

An inclusive learning community:

    • lives peacefully together by engaging with different ways of knowing and being

    • prioritizes people and their relationships

    • assumes shared responsibility for learning, health and well-being.

Everyone in the learning community has agency, see themselves as contributors to its strength and success, and take action to affect change


Source: ibo.org | Springer Link

The Learning Community

Learning Community Poster.pdf

Modelling For Learning

Modelling For Learning.pdf
Source: Impact Wales

Visible Learning Guide

Visible Thinking Guide.pdf
Source: Corwin

Why Visible Learning?

Making learning visible isn’t something that just happens. It requires a few key mindset shifts. The first is getting into the habit of constantly thinking about your impact and your dual role of educator and learner. The second is the measurement and evaluation of that impact.

The power behind Visible Learning lies in these mindset shifts—and the five key strands that provide the backbone for evaluation and learning. The Visible Learning guide, will outline:

  • The five key strands behind the Visible Learning research

  • How the strands can be interpreted

  • Questions to ask yourself to start using these strands as a lens through which to view your impact

Also see: Visible Thinking Routines

Creating A Culture of Curiosity

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Many students don’t feel comfortable being curious at school. They’ve learned that asking a question might make them look foolish, slow down the class, or even upset the teacher. So if you want curious students, you have to retrain them to be curious again. You have to spend some time creating a culture of curiosity.

What Do I Do With This?

Take a few minutes once a week, show your favourite puzzlement or two, and simply let your students be curious.

Use these two prompts:

  1. What do you notice? - Psst. Most people rush (or skip) this step. Give kids lots of time to notice things. It's the pre-req to our next step…

  2. What do you wonder? - No pressure. No expectations. This is a chance for you to establish four key traits:

    • Routine. Students come to expect a time to be curious.

    • Safety. Students won't be curious if teachers make it unsafe to ask questions. I used to kill curiosity by saying things like: "that's off-topic", "we don't have time for questions," and worst of all, "I already answered that question!"

    • Novelty. The puzzlements are fresh, interesting, and unexpected.

    • Praise. When a student is curious (about anything!), explicitly praise that curiosity. Think about the difference between, “We don’t have time for that” versus "What an interesting question! Write it down in your book of curiosity!"

    • Modeling. Children need to see adults being curious. Share what you're wondering about. Model curiosity in front of them.

DO NOT: assign homework or create classwork out of these questions or you’ll quench the fire.

The great thing about these emails is that you're free to use them however you like. But here's how I'd get started:

    • Pick the video or image that most dramatically provokes your own curiosity (remember, you've got to model curiosity and that's a lot easier when you're authentically curious). Ian always sends out five links so there's bound to be at least one that really pops out. ⚠️ No reason to use them all each week!

    • Consider ahead of time: where should you pause the video or what parts of an image should you hide at first? Consider using the Zoom In Thinking Routine. This is key to building curiosity - temporarily denying some essential information. Done correctly, you'll drive your students into a delightful frenzy of curiosity!

    • As you pause the puzzlement, ask your students, "What did you notice?" This step is so easy to skip. But it's essential. Take longer than you think is necessary. Kids will keep finding new things. Silence is fine. It means they're thinking. Don't skip this!

    • Only then, begin asking, "What do you wonder?" Ahh, what a beautiful feeling! To wonder. You'll probably see that kids' "wonders" build on their "notices" - that's one reason to spend extra time letting them slowly notice.

    • ⚠️ Do not allow this to become a guessing game. Kids should be looking closely and pointing at interesting things, not randomly shouting out hypotheses in order to "be the first to get it."

Eventually, you can collect your kids' "wonders" and put them on your walls or your class website. Display them publicly. Add answers when/if they find them. Don't be surprised if kids come back in a month and say, "Oh, I figured out why that spider did that thing in that video!" And don't be scared to come back yourself and share an answer you found. Model curiosity! AND don't be afraid of leaving unanswered questions sitting there all year!


Source: Byrdseed Website

The Hungry Mind: The Origins of Curiosity

Run Time: 20:06 - Aug 18, 2011

This is very though-provoking video by Susan Engel. A striking quote from her research is: "many children are spending hours a day in school without asking even one question" ~ Children’s Need to Know: Curiosity in Schools. And, no, "can I go to the bathroom" doesn't count as a question in this context. She explains what teachers need to do to ensure curiosity is alive and well in the classroom.

You might want to check out Susan's book - The Hungry Mind: The Origins of Curiosity in Childhood - which offers educators practical ways to put curiosity at the centre of the classroom and encourage children’s natural eagerness to learn.

Teaching Moves That Engage Students

Integrating Effective Teaching Practices.pdf
Source: Curriculum AssociatesThis document covers:
  • Three specific teacher talk moves that boost student engagement and mathematical thinking
  • Actionable tips for teachers, including how to phrase class instructions
  • Common pitfalls to avoid and how to make the most of class time

The Positive Encourager Way Website

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This website explores how we can encourage people during our time on the planet. It looks at how we can help people to build on their strengths and achieve their picture of success. Learn more HERE

What Are The Kinds Of Questions That Help Students See Themselves As Learners?

These 30 questions are more about the student than you, your classroom, or your education. What every student should know starts with themselves and moves outwards to your content area: self-knowledge–> content knowledge.

As an educator, your job is to lead students to understanding, but student self-awareness and self-knowledge should precede that. These questions hit at a range of topics, but all revolve around that idea of a learner’s identity. These questions would be very useful at the beginning of the school year. Essentially: Know Thy Student.

Strategies for Implementation.

Questions For Students Able To Answer.pdf

  1. Introduce morning meeting. You can create a sense of community by consistently holding a morning meeting. Have your students design a poster or anchor chart to display in the classroom. Dedicate the first 30 minutes of each day to this important social-emotional learning and building relationships.

  2. Establish rules together. At the beginning of the year, discuss and come to agreement on classroom rules and expectations. Students can and should be reminded of the classroom rules/procedures and practice them daily. Discuss how and why these rules help students stay safe, learn respect, and how the rules help them learn and care about others. You can provide positive affirmations when students follow the classroom rules.

  1. Greet each student as they enter the room, everyday. Some teachers stand at the door, some play music, while other write a daily quote on the board. Whatever you decide, do your best to get the day started of in a way that tells your students you care. These small gestures lets each student feel acknowledged and starts the day out on a positive note.

  2. Focus on relationships from day one. From the very first day, provide students with opportunities to share their voice and experiences with one another. When we know our students, and our students know each other, we feel safe, supported and respected. The stronger our community, the fewer conflicts we have. When problems do arise, this strong foundation carries us through and helps find real solutions.


Source: Learner's Edge Website

The Power of Ummmmm... Kath Murdoch

  • "What if classrooms were laboratories where wonderr thrives?"

  • "What if it was more exciting in a classroom to not know something than it was to know something?"

  • What if classrooms were places where children know their questions would be heard?"

Run Time: 18:37 - Nov 10, 2014

Progressive Alternatives to Traditional Methods in Education

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If you're looking for progressive alternatives to traditional methods in education, you’re not alone.

The Progressive Education online hub explores progressive approaches to education which are forward-thinking and aim to equip students with appropriate skills for the 21st century from a British perspective.

15 Ways to Reimagine Education

  1. Raise the school starting age. Read more…

  2. Prioritise play. Read more…

  3. Place students in mixed age groups with mixed abilities. Read more…Eradicate standardised tests which put pupils (and teachers) under unnecessary pressure. Read more…

  4. Value creativity and innovation. Read more…

  5. Prioritise mental health and wellbeing. Read more…

  6. Practice democracy and mutual respect between staff and pupils. Read more…

  7. Value self-directed education. Read more…

  8. Broaden the National Curriculum. Read more…

  9. Reduce the amount of time spent at school. Read more…

  10. Enhance teacher training to equip teachers for the job. Read more…

  11. Reduce class/school sizes. Read more…

  12. Facilitate parent/teacher collaboration. Read more…

  13. Equip students with the skills needed for adulthood and the workplace. Read more…

  14. The education system is outdated. Create a new model for the 21st century. Read more…


Source: Progressive Education website

Learning Styles Do NOT Improve Learning!?

Run Time: 14:26 - Jul 9, 2021
This video postulates that there is no creditable evidence that Learning Styles (ie. VARK - visual, auditory, reading/writing, kinesthetics) exist due to a lack of creditable evidence. Instead of focusing on individual leaning styles, the video states that it is best to use a multi-modal approach (ie. picture + word/descriptor). It seems the common belief that learning styles help to improve learning is a myth...who would have thought?

Differentiation & Learning Environment

Developing a strong learning environment is critical for the incorporation of differentiation strategies that support student learning.

Learn more about Differentiating Instruction and Assessment.

Articles That Support Building A Community of Learners

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6 Powerful Strategies For Deeper Learning In Your Classroom | Teachthought

  • Deeper Learning is a set of student outcomes that includes mastery of essential academic content; thinking critically and solving complex problems; working collaboratively and communicating effectively; having an academic mindset, and being empowered through self-directed learning.

Getting Students on the Road to Self-Advocacy | Edutopia | 1 July, 2021 |

  • With some simple supports, students in grades 3 to 8 can take the wheel and assume some responsibility for their learning journey.

Building a Culture that Respects Teachers and Reduces Stress |Edutopia | February 5, 2021|

  • When teachers are given time to work closely with other teachers and have achievable goals—school culture thrives. The article discusses the connection between teacher collaboration, time to ‘reflect, make meaning and connect’, and wellbeing. Collaborative meetings are essential to the inquiry approach and need to happen within the week not simply tacked on to the end of a day or the occasional staff meeting. So, if you are still trying to champion the importance of time to plan and reflect with colleagues, this article provides may provide some powerful support. Recommended by Kath Murdoch.

12 Strategies To Build Relationships With Students |Teachthought| Mar 18, 2021

  • Here are 12 ways to help you build better relationships with your students. A well-organized classroom with engaged students who trust and feel valued by the teacher is a classroom that’s setup for progress everywhere else.

Home Learning

AKA: Homework

K-5 Home Learning Policy & Parent Handout

Jr School Home Learning Policy.pdf

Video - Homework: How Much is Too Much?

Run Time: 1:08 - Mar 9, 2018

Home Learning (work) Research Articles

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Let's take the word "work" out of "homework" because homework should not be work but instead an opportunity to explore, wonder, inquire and learn. Therefore, I suggest replacing homework with HOME LEARNING.

Homework Research Articles

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