Sharing Learning, Sharing Knowledge

September 19, 2019 at 3:43 PM

Year 6 Inquiry Exhibition

Each year, theboys in Year 6 are presented with a unique opportunity - to undertake a significant and lengthy inquiry over the course of a term and then exhibit their learning journey for the wider school community in the form of an Expo. Not only is their finished work put on display but the boys are also on hand over three sessions to answer questions from visitors about the process behind their inquiry and what they learnt as a consequence.

When presented with the idea that the Expo is exclusive to Year 6, the boys are always fired into action and quickly take ownership of their journey! Like the boys in each year before them, this year’s cohort were inspired to take up the challenging task of going beyond their previous learning to develop new skills, while keeping the end result in mind – an exhibition intended for a wide audience.

With the broad theme ‘How the World Works,’ the boys were encouraged to consider the following:

  • The natural world and its laws ​ 
  • The interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies​ 
  • ​ How humans use their understanding of scientific principles
  • ​ The impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment  

This is a cross curricular inquiry with links not just to social science but English and mathematics as well. The boys worked in small groups of up to f to brainstorm which path their own inquiry would take. Firstly, they picked an overall line of inquiry and from that each planned their own personal exploration within their chosen subject – these ideas were many and varied.

The boys were required to explore multiple perspectives, including going beyond the school gates to talk to experts in the wider community, conducting all the organisation and safety information for this to take place. Some boys arranged fantastic opportunities to talk to key people including scientists and business leaders to gain a deeper understanding of their chosen line of enquiry. As the projects got underway, they kept log books that recorded all their work and in the final stages, worked out how best to present their findings to engage an invited audience.

Prior to the arrival of their visitors, Principal, Mr Peter Cassie visited the Expo and took the opportunity to grill the boys on their efforts. He said it soon became clear that deep and meaningful learning had taken place, developing skills for life. When Mr Cassie asked how many had spoken to or interviewed someone beyond the school gates, every hand went up. Some had made a phone or Skype call, some had visited in person with one group travelling to Weta Workshop, another interviewing a race car driver at Hampton Downs, another group spoke with specialists at Stardome whilst others sought insight from a robotic surgeon and staff at Watercare! Mr Cassie reiterated that there is only so much to be learnt from Google. The boys had taken their enquiry one step further to give authenticity to their findings.

There was another very important aspect to their learning. This was a truly collaborative project and the boys learnt that collaboration is not always easy. This required a fair sharing of the workload and understanding that sometimes you have to agree to disagree when deciding on outcomes. These are vital workplace skills.

The boys were adept at articulating their learning and were also keen to comment on the step by step processes they had learned from the organisations they had spoken to, and the relevance of applying the same thinking to their own learning.

At the heart of inquiry learning is a commitment to structured, purposeful questioning as the leading vehicle for teaching and learning. Inquiry gives ownership of learning to the students themselves, developing their research and critical thinking skills. It allows them to pursue their own interests and make meaningful connections with what they are doing – discovering that all learning across all disciplines is inter-related.

The parents were invited to visit the exhibition to view the boys’ displays and seek a deeper understanding of the different topics from the boys themselves.  In a frequently changing world, understanding how to inquire, how to sift through ideas to make informed decisions and developing the ability to collaborate with others to present joint findings are all part of a valuable journey that these boys are just beginning to discover. This term’s work brought all this into focus and the boys were very proud to present their learning to a wider audience.

An amazing collaborative journey with deep and meaningful learning.

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