Inquiry Learning

The 10 Shifts of Practice That Will Benefit Today's Learners

Shifts of practice are something vital to innovative modern learning 

Shifts of practice are something vital to innovative modern learning that we've talked about in our recent keynotes all over the world.

Innovation is a natural response to change, as many educators believe.

Our recommendations for the following 10 shifts of practice are new innovations you can bring to your practice.

Incorporating any shifts into your teaching methods requires careful documentation and reflection. The 10 Shifts of Practice available to you are as follows:

  1. Essential and Herding Questions
  2. Connection Through Context and Relevance
  3. Learning is Personalized
  4. Challenge of Higher-Order Tasks
  5. Information Fluency Research Component
  6. Process Oriented Using the Essential Fluencies
  7. Learning Intentions are Clear
  8. Learner-Creation Focus
  9. Assessment is Mindful
  10. Self and/or Peer Assessed

1. Essential and Herding Questions

Providing learning without an essential question is like offering food to someone who is full—they won’t accept it if they aren’t hungry. Essential Questions stimulate the appetite for learning. For this shift of practice, challenge yourself to incorporate essential questions in every learning activity.

2. Connection Through Context and Relevance

Ask yourself where your students may come across a certain kind of information or a specific skill in their lives outside of school. If it’s something they’ll come across in their own world, then instantly there is a connection that brings relevance and context to the learner. Identify the tasks that students would be performing when they applied these skills or used this knowledge, and think about how this could be made compelling for students.

Consider asking your students what they believe are the biggest challenges in the world that need solving; you might be surprised at what they reveal.

If nothing immediately comes to mind.

3. Learning Is Personalized

Learning is personal, and is strengthened by the personal connection to the task. By engaging in Future-Focused Learning, endless possibilities appear for personalization. It could be the task, the learning process, the research, the assessment, the evidence of learning created, or the role in collaboration. 

What will make your lessons engaging and relevant to all learners?

4. Challenge of Higher-Order Tasks

Take it up a notch or two using Bloom's Digital Taxonomy by shifting your learning tasks to higher-order thinking tasks (HOTS). Challenge your learners to evaluate and create instead of demonstrating remembering and understanding.

5. Information Fluency Research Component

What is the definition of Information Fluency? What are the specific skills it develops? Why are they important? Let's introduce you to the basics of this fluency.

  • ASK: This involves compiling a list of critical questions about what knowledge or data is being sought.
  • ACQUIRE: This stage involves accessing and collecting informational materials from the most appropriate digital and non-digital sources.
  • ANALYZE: With all the raw data collected we must now authenticate, organize, and arrange it all.
  • APPLY: Once data is collected and verified, and a solution is finally created, the knowledge must then be practically applied within the context of the original purpose of the information quest.
  • ASSESS: This involves open and lively discussions about how the problem-solving journey could have been made more efficient, and how the solution created could be applied to challenges of a similar nature.

6. Process-Oriented Learning Using the Essential Fluencies

Use Solution Fluency or one of the other Essential Fluencies as the learning process to challenge learners to solve real-world problems that matter, dive deep into Inquiry, or create something amazing using Creativity Fluency.

7. Clear Curricular Outcomes

Whether working in one subject or across multiple key learning areas, the impact of being transparent with the curriculum is amazing. No matter if it's curriculum lists, learning intentions, standards, or objectives, putting them out front for the benefit of your learners is an essential shift in Future-Focused Learning. 

You could create several inquiry areas around different standards and have learners self-direct the learning, along with many other possibilities.

Use your imagination and let your learners show you what they are capable of.

8. Learner-Creation Focus

Learner-Creation means that the learners are creating new knowledge as part of the learning task, or a new product or solution, or developing the evidence of learning as well as the criteria.

9. Mindful Assessment

Mindful Assessment is fair, clear, transparent, deliberate and purposeful. It enhances learning by focusing on formative assessment (assessment as learning) as well as reflecting on the learning process (General Capabilities).

Now is the time for us to rethink the bond between teaching and learning by assessing the crucial skills our learners need to thrive in life beyond school, embodied by the Essential Fluencies. We do this through the practice of mindfulness with both assessment and feedback for improvement.

Each of the Essential Fluencies has a framework for assessment (from the Mindful Assessment book). These can also be found in each of the corresponding Teacher's Companions in the resources section.

10. Self And/Or Peer Assessment

Reflection on our learning is a skill we can internalize and grow with by practicing it during our school years. That's why encouraging learner reflection through self- and peer assessment adds such a powerful dimension to learning. 

Self- and peer assessment stresses and reinforces the importance of collaboration, reduces workload, and can increase engagement and understanding.

In addition, learners' insights and observations become highly valued since they help them reflect on and understand the processes of their own learning.

Go ahead and make the shift. What ways can you begin getting your own learners involved in the power of self- and peer assessment and reflection?