Where to Go for More: Resources for Cycles of Inquiry and Action

Teacher Action Research for Equity and Multicultural Education
Though brief, this section of the EdChange website is worth noting as a resource that focuses particularly on inquiry and teacher action research in the service of social justice and equity. The presentation of teacher action research though an equity lens provides useful material for initiating or reenergizing a school-based teacher action research effort. The site includes a process description, tips, and an example of teacher action research aimed at dealing with sexual harassment, accompanied by this insight: “Many problems related to diversity and equity are already present. We should not wait for a horrendous occurrence to address them.”

10602 Kitty Pozer Drive #L
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
telephone: 703-593-9353

Exploratorium’s Institute for Inquiry
The Institute for Inquiry is a center for online and real-time investigation into the teaching and learning of science. This elegantly designed site goes far beyond the boundaries of science education, providing a thoughtfully edited selection of resources that describe the intersection between teaching based on inquiry and the application of inquiry on that teaching to determine what’s working in a classroom and school setting. Particularly useful are the “Assessing for Learning” workshops, based on the work of British science educator Wynne Harlen.

Institute for Inquiry
Exploratorium 3601 Lyon Street
San Francisco, California 94123-1099
telephone: 415-561-0397

Making Learning Visible
As its website points out, Making Learning Visible seems to be a project about documentation, but it’s much more: it’s about the ways that gatherings of educators can utilize “the power of the group as a learning environment and documentation as a way to see how and what children are learning.” Making Learning Visible’s work provides a great deal to groups of educators dedicated to inquiry for equity: clear definitions of “learning groups;” a strong set of examples of documented learning with educators’ assessment of student work, analysis of challenges, and descriptions of next steps drawn from a range of schools that includes several CES schools. Making Learning Visible’s materials are a productive starting point for any school serious about creating educator-led and student-centered cycles of inquiry and action.

Project Zero
Harvard Graduate School of Education
124 Mount Auburn Street, Fifth Floor
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
telephone: 617-495-4342

Going Public with Our Teaching
A companion to Going Public with Our Teaching: An Anthology of Practice, edited by Thomas Hatch, Dilruba Ahmed, Ann Lieberman, Deborah Faigenbaum, Melissa Eiler White, and Desiree H. Pointer Mace and published in 2005 by Teachers College Press, this website presents a collection of completed teacher inquiry projects. Going Public with Our Teaching grew out of the work of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching (CASTL), which accomplished much to advance understanding of the methods and effectiveness of teacher research and inquiry. Though the CASTL K-12 project is no longer active, links to its work and other Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching resources are accessible through the Going Public with Our Teaching site.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
51 Vista Lane
Stanford, California 94305
telephone: 650-566-5100

National School Reform Faculty’s Looking at Student Work
A project of the National School Reform Faculty (NSRF), the Looking at Student Work web site focuses on looking at student work collaboratively, a practice that many CES educators believe is at the heart of collaboration and improvement. It offers a strong collection of protocols, books and other research materials, teacher-generated research based on student work, and links to other organizations that focus on the practice of student work. NSRF is the central source for much of the school-based professional development that happens in Essential schools. NSRF coordinates Critical Friends Groups (CFG) training, focusing on training facilitators and coaches to galvanize and sustain CFG work at school sites and within school districts. Since its founding in 1995, NSRF coaches have worked with educators and principals from many CES schools to develop the CFG protocols that structure educators’ interactions as they collaborate to improve their practice to make a positive impact on student learning. NSRF hosts an extensive web site that serves as a guide to its programs and services, a calendar of CFG training, descriptions of protocols, and links to many other assets.

National School Reform Faculty
PO Box 1787
Bloomington Indiana 47402
telephone: 812-330-2702

Data Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Assessment Results to Improve Teaching and Learning
Published by Harvard Education Press in 2005 and edited by Kathryn Parker Boudett, Elizabeth A. City and Richard J. Murnane, Data Wise is a powerful asset to data driven inquiry and improvement. Guiding schools and school systems through the growth of comprehensive data systems that encompass classroom work samples as well as standardized tests, Data Wise describes an eight-step system for using assessment outcomes in a collaborative professional learning community to improve a school’s pedagogy and learning results, providing a concrete action plan that schools can adopt from the start or at various entry points. The scenarios that illustrate each chapter come from two case studies, one based on a K-8th grade scenario and the other a 9th-12th grade setting. Data Wise grounds its discussion in examples from those contexts, keeping the material accessible and focused on realistic problems and solutions. Data Wise’s process depends on collaboration and full faculty participation. The Data Wise process trusts teachers, relying not just what the data says but on what teachers know and can say about student performance. A companion volume, Data Wise in Action, edited by Boudett and Jennifer L. Steele and published in 2007, provides a more extensive set of examples from a variety of settings.

Teaching as Inquiry: Asking Hard Questions to Improve Practice and Student Achievement
Teaching as Inquiry, by Alexandra Weinbaum, David Allen, Tina Blythe, Katherine Simon, Steve Seidel and Catherine Rubin and published by Teachers College Press in 2004, offers a solid foundation in the theory and practice of looking at evidence, particularly student work, through collaborative inquiry. Most likely of greatest value to learning communities committed to a deep, multi-year cycle of inquiry, Teaching as Inquiry opens with two chapters on the theory and practice of collaborative inquiry. The first reviews the research on school-based collaborative inquiry. For professional learning communities seeking to weave inquiry into their work, this background is essential, as is the second chapter’s discussion of defining and communicating the purpose of inquiry, matching subject to method, and determining who should participate. The four middle chapters represent collaborative inquiry in various forms and stages at four schools. These chapters vividly demonstrate the multi-year process of group examination of teacher and student work in pursuit of better learning and teaching. Each of these chapters were written by school coaches or other such facilitators, and a vivid subtext throughout Teaching as Inquiry is the crucial role of consistent “outsiders” who know the school well and can push, listen, support, challenge, guide, and analyze as the situation warrants. The final chapters illustrate milestones in a learning community’s inquiry process and list key questions that a group willing to devote hours to group inquiry should use as provocations to refine their efforts.

CES Resources for Equity-Focused Cycles of Inquiry and Action
A selection of past Horace issues offer perspectives on collaborative inquiry from CES schools:

“Demonstrating Whole School Change in Essential Schools,” Horace Volume 12, Issue 3, January 1996, available online at www.essentialschools.org/cs/resources/view/ces_res/72

“Looking Collaboratively at Student Work: An Essential Toolkit,” Horace Volume 13, Issue 2, November 1996, available online at www.essentialschools.org/cs/resources/view/ces_res/57

“The Cycle of Inquiry and Action: Essential Learning Communities,” Horace Volume 15, Issue 4, April 1999, available online at www.essentialschools.org/cs/resources/view/ces_res/74

“Mentoring and Collaboration among Essential Schools,” Horace Volume 20, Issue 1, Fall 2003, available online at www.essentialschools.org/pub/ces_docs/resources/horace/20_1/20_1_toc.html