Collaborative Inquiry in Action!

In Mrs. M’s Gr. 1/2 classroom, students wondered what it would be like to live, work, play and learn in different countries around the world and how it compares to the Belleville community.

Based on student responses collected above, each student create a hot air balloon, “THE HOOK”.  IF I COULD GO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD I WOULD GO TO ________________ BECAUSE

From here, students had questions and wondering about different types of transportation, directions, maps, weather and more! Here is a sample of class generated wonderings:


After considering the questions of students, mapping was a key idea. What are they? How are they used? How do they help us?

Two mentor texts were chosen by Mrs. M and student discussions took place about the different purposes that maps have depending on content and circumstance.

From here, student learned about what elements make up a map and finally, students created their own maps! MY MAP OF _______________.






Stay tuned! The Inquiry continues: If students understand what a community is, then they will be able to identify features in their own communities and communities around the world.

Exploring Collaboration in Gr. 1/2M

Mrs. M was excited about learning more about Collaborative Inquiry after attending, Reading for the Love of It Conference. She was wondering how she could design lessons that were based on student interest and still grounded in the curriculum. Together, we used the following resource,  to help students understand and practice comprehension and collaboration.

Pre-Inquiry – Comprehension and Collaboration – Mrs. M (CT) and Mrs. P (LP) followed lessons about non-fiction text features to link to non-fiction text for the inquiry.

THINK AS THEY READ – Students used a non-fiction book about frogs to generate ideas about what they think they know about frogs and what they learned.  Ideas were placed on chart paper with sticky notes and then the book was read and knowledge was moved to proper location on the chat if their thinking was validated from the non-fiction text.  Students used text and photos to pull new information and that new info was placed on the chart (this was practiced many times throughout the week).

INNER VOICE Next, students were encouraged to ask questions aloud as they looked at the front cover of a book called Stanley’s Stick – they listened to the title and asked more questions and then as I read the book I spoke aloud to the kids about questions I had come to my mind as I read through the book. – they were encouraged to ask questions that they had as the book was read – This was practiced many times throughout the week (this was practiced many times throughout the week).

IMAGES AND PICTURES- students were introduced to inferring – through photos – information was gathered and questions were posed pertaining to the photos shown to the class.  Students worked in partners to generate questions from a photo.   They enjoyed this activity and often came to me to tell me questions they had from the pictures that they viewed in other texts.

“Leading the students through the features of non-fiction text was preparation for their inquiry” ~ Mrs. M

Documenting the Learning makes Learning Visible!

At Queen Elizabeth Belleville PS, FDK students in Ms. Rankin’s classroom have been wondering and discovering how to build houses from different types of materials. As a class, they have been reading about houses all around the world and trying to figure out if the choice of materials they are made out are impacted by weather (wind, rain, sunshine) and temperature.

Check this out!

Students in Ms. Rankin’s FDK class co-constructed a class anchor chart that is used to guide their thinking, understanding and learning!

Together, students think and wonder as they work their way through their “cycle” of learning as they begin an inquiry on “Building Houses”.

Student worked collaboratively in teams and used a framework to determine what type of house they are going to use, identify the materials needed and why. Words and hand drawings were used to communicate student thinking.

Here is a photo of a few of the houses that were made by different groups of students in the classroom. Talk about creative!






Last but not least, Ms. Rankin has documented the process of inquiry by creating her own documentation through the use of photographs, teacher recorded thinking and learning on behalf of her students and finally, students write their own part of the plan!

Making learning visible encourages and motivates students, and shares the process of learning with anyone who enters the classroom (Parents, Volunteers, Guest Teachers, Special Guests etc.,)

I am always so energized whenever I leave this FDK classroom. As I continue to observe student interactions, listen to what children are saying and asking one another as well as the types of questions the classroom teachers uses to elicit student understanding, I realize more and more just how effective and successful play based learning is! So much fun :)


Learning is Visible in SK/1B

At Queen Elizabeth, Belleville SK/1 students in Miss Bajec’s class were pheonetically sounding out animals names and drawing pictures while recalling the story, The Mitten. Key words such as first, then and next were important to listing the characters in the correct order.

Way to go, rockets!

Working Together with Marian Small!

Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria, Deseronto and HJC staff had the privilege of co-planning, co-teaching and co-debriefing with math guru, Dr. Marian Small! Marian shared a variety of open ended, engaging math problems to elicit student thinking and deepen understanding.

Marian emphasized the importance for teachers to pose good questions that allow students to explore and investigate without telling students “how”! She also communicated the importance of teachers clearly asking themselves: “what’s the point” when posing questions or planning tasks for students. We, as teachers need to aniticipate what students might say and be ready to challenge their thinking and look at a problem from all possible view points and solutions.


Marian Small questioning Gr. 3/4W students on their designs: Use pattern blocks to create a design that is 1/2 yellow.

Working together to try and extend the problem: Create a design that is 1/3 red and 1/4 blue.

Questioning students to deepen student understanding by saying “convince me”.

Marian listening to questions posed by the teacher to encourage students to share their thinking. She is always ready to ask a question that hasn’t been asked to teach students the power in recognizing there is more than one way to solve a problem.

Procedure Writing

In 7/8M at Deseronto PS, making a fruit smoothie was a fun and engaging way to get students thinking about procedural writing.

Student were asked to work in partners and use idevices to audio or video record the demonstration, How to Make a Fruit Smoothie and then review their recording to recall the steps. Students were given the option to use paper/pencil or use the notes app on the idevices.

Students volunteered to share their analysis of their video recording so we could deconstruct the work sample and identify strengths, needs and next steps. This authentic and engaging task supports student collaboration, risk taking and sharing in a non-threatening way!


Why Do We Need Coins?

Lots of great idea were shared by Mrs. M’s Grade 1/2 students while visiting their classroom. Recognizing and identifying coins by their attributes was the learning goal.


Through co-teaching, students activated their prior knowledge through a “minds on” activity by thinking about two questions: Why do we need coins? Where do coins come from?

In the Action part of our math lesson, students identified the differences between coins (penny, nickel, dime, quarter, loonie, twoonie) including each coin’s value/worth. Students actively participated in confirming their own knowledge as well as new learning. 

Students were divided into small groups and participated in math stations which focused on coins. The coin centers consisted of: Patterning, Graphing, Math Trek and Sorting.

Here is some evidence that learning was exciting, energizing and engaging for students. Look at their success!





I look forward to co-planning more authentic, relevant and meaningful learning tasks to increase student engagement and student success. We will be co-teaching for three days in March. EXCITING!!!!

Reflex Math

Gr. 3/4 W at Deseronto Public School are using Reflex Math to help them practice basic math facts which are key foundational skills in all areas of math! The program is set up like a video game whereby students create avitars, and log in to the program. As students solve the correct math fact, they win points, tickets and other prizes that help them creatively solve a variety of mathematical challenges throughout the game.

The program also provides a wonderful school-home connection in which students are able to access Reflex Math at school and at home.

Math facts don’t have to be viewed as “drill and kill” but rather fun and engaging through game simulation. This program can be used as bell work, an alternate activity upon work completion or as earned computer time.

A balanced teaching and learning approach is what it’s all about!

Solving single digit multiplication and division questions leads to uncovering puzzle pieces to create a picture. 

Christmas Cheer at Deseronto PS!

Between a Terrific Kid Assembly and an afternoon Christmas Concert, school pride and the spirit of Christmas came alive in Deseronto!

First, Mr. Potts was SURPRISED to see Mrs. Clause enter the gym after the Terrific Kid Assembly and report to students, parents/guardians and staff that Santa was unable to join everyone for the Christmas Concert so a volunteer was needed to take his place. VOILA! Mr. Potts was the chosen one! Although he is a true Leafs fan he was forced to wear a Habs jersey and then squeeze himself into a ONESIE!

This was only the beginning… came Santa’s hat, balloon stuffing for his round belly, and whip cream for his beard! Boy, did students have fun smearing whip cream on Santa’s face!















Mrs. Clause was so pleased with herself as she cheered on the crowd to applaud for Santa!



Operation transformation complete! Santa found his way to Deseronto Public School and he brought a lot of laughter and good cheer! Good thing Mrs. Clause had a plan and knew exactly what to do to liven up Deseronto’s school community!

Science Centers in Gr.3/4S

I had the pleasure of supporting students in Gr. 3/4S at Kente Public School. Students were divided into small groups and rotated to explore, investigate, wonder and discover! Some students used Kinex and straws to build structures.

 Other Students found items in the classroom to weigh using the balance scale.


Students worked safely with their teacher to measure and cut pieces of wood using miter cutters to make individual picture frames.