EDTC 6103 Promoting Student Inquiry through Community Partnerships

This week we began a new quarter looking at a new set of standards.  Moving away from ISTE student standards, we are moving into standards for teachers, looking closely at ISTE Teaching Standard #1, Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity.  I was inspired by AJ Juliani’s blogpost, 10 Commandments of Innovative Teaching, and how it aligns with promoting student engagement and interaction with real-world problems. It encourages me to model how I can extend our beyond our classroom to foster global collaboration.

This led to my quest,


Juliani’s 10 Commandments made me think about how I can incorporate student interest into our learning as an extension of our reading and writing curriculum. Two points that truly stood out to me were “build something together” and “from local to global”.  I want to model for students how I can search for information and use a variety of ways to advance student learning beyond my level of expertise. Working with multiple grade levels and content, I don’t have time to become an expert on each unit of study, however, this article reminds us to be resourceful and reach out to experts in the field and within our local community.

Community Partners

While searching for how to expand our learning, I came across the article Community Partners: Making Student Learning Relevant from Edutopia.  The article (and video) look at how Hood River Middle School has embraced community partnerships.  Their school truly looks at various ways to integrate community to motivate the students to work harder and make meaningful connections with the skills they are mastering. Already understanding the benefits of community partners, and a few of the avenues to pursue experts in the field, I still found reminders to help strengthen my teaching.  Two points that resonated with me:

“Choose someone who can connect with your students in a way that you can’t.

Consider their profession, passions, personality, and how they will connect with your students. “Not all students are going to connect with me, and I’m not going to connect with all students, but there are always community members with different personalities that my students can connect with,” says Sarah Segal, a Hood River seventh-grade English language arts, literacy, and social studies teacher.

Choose someone who reflects your students’ image.

Bring in people that reflect the ethnicity and gender of your students. Use learning partners as an opportunity to break down the preconceived ideas of what different professions look like.”

Utilising Funds of Knowledge

While reading this, I was reminded of the “Funds of Knowledge” and how we need to look deeper into students lives to help them make connections to their environment, school, and the broader community. This is an area I feel my school can improve.  With at least 75% speaking a language other than English at home, I would like to see more parents acknowledged for their skills and impart their knowledge in their primary language with students.  For example, we have a teacher that is amazing with Next Generation Science Standards and I know I have several students whose father’s work in construction.  I’d love to see them be part of the learning experience in the classroom.

Modeling In Practice

Motivated by Juliani and Hood River Middle School, I offered my 3rd grade students and extension opportunity this past week.  Having spent the past few months learning about wolves in both literature and informational contexts, I wanted them to have the opportunity to learn more first hand.  With a little research, I found Wolfhaven International, a sanctuary just over an hour away.  

Already, through class discussions, the students became excited about adopting a wolf and enjoyed exploring Wolfhaven’s website.  This led to me reaching out through email and already receiving a response about how my students can get their personal questions answered. I modeled my thinking for my students and shared the process of how we email people we don’t know personally.  Students then asked if we could adopt a wolf, which led to a great lesson on persuasive letter writing.  As a class, we composed a letter to our PTSA requesting a donation to allow our class to adopt a wolf.  I knew that the students were invested when they would stop me in the hallway to ask if I’d heard back yet from the PTSA.  Additionally, it was evident the students were excited when their peers stopped me to ask if it was true we’re adopting a wolf. These are two examples of how student inquiry leads to writing opportunities and global correspondence.

Next Steps

With our wolf unit, I’d like to be able to not only adopt a wolf but also have the opportunity to have their personal questions answered through either a phone call, video chat, or written response.  Beyond wolves, I’d like to think of how my understanding of my students and their families can be used as an asset in the wider school community.  As an ELL teacher, I want to look for more opportunities for our families to share their skills and culture with our students.


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