Vignettes: Later Years - It's OK to Ask

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

Vignettes – Later Years – It's OK to ask

Back to Principle 4 - Vignettes: Later Years


It's OK to ask

Lara’s Year 12 ESL class contains a number of students who have come from educational systems that value individual and competitive learning. Many of them are accustomed to learning by rote in large classrooms where passivity is expected; and posing or asking questions is frowned upon. She understands the need for them to quickly acculturate to what is valued in the Australian educational system and to grapple with substantive discussion, investigating and problem-solving skills despite their limited language base. She wants them to establish the habit of asking questions, especially questions that will help to give depth to their responses. Lara uses a ‘5 Whys’ activity to illustrate the difference between information and depth.

In pairs, the students select an issue that is currently receiving media coverage. Using the issues selected by the students, Lara challenges the groups to pose as many questions as they can about one or two identified issues. The students then use ‘pair and share’ strategies to categorise the questions into those that will lead to information gathering and those that will lead to deep thinking. These findings are displayed for reference.

Lara explicitly teaches some of the elements of community of inquiry: clarifying, summarizing, looking from different perspectives, making connections, using analogies, using examples and counter examples. She displays prepared charts of ‘this sounds like’ with sentence stems that could be used. The students apply their skills within a ‘community of inquiry’ that explores the issue of Israel building a security fence in the West Bank. Lara notices that the students’ writing on this topic evidences an exploration of national sovereignty, the rights of people to free movement, security versus freedom and heard examples and counter examples: Berlin, China, Yemen/Saudi Arabia.