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Welcome to e-Learning as Inquiry. Teaching with digital content.

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Focusing Inquiry

This focusing inquiry establishes a baseline and a direction. The teacher uses all available information to determine what their students have already learned and what they need to learn next.


The New Zealand Curriculum, p 35.

Key questions in a focusing inquiry

  • What is important (and therefore worth spending time on), given where my students are at?
  • What do I need to find out about my students’ literacy and e-learning needs and strengths? What are my own needs and strengths in an e-learning context?

Focusing the inquiry

In the following conversation, the facilitator clarified the purpose of the session – increasing the teachers’ knowledge about how digital content, software, and other e-learning tools can be used as a resource to support planning and teaching persuasive writing.

The session began with an initial needs analysis of students. The teachers brought along an overview of their students’ writing needs, based primarily on asTTleExternal link data.

Dimensions of ELP

Learning conversations

Focus questions

Facilitator: Your focus is persuasive writing. What are the specific areas that you want to target? What does your asTTle writing data show?

Teacher K: A weakness in structure and content, pretty much. I have been working on grammar, language resources, and punctuation with various groups but, with the latest asTTle results, I’ll need to shift the emphasis.

Facilitator: Have you thought about what the learning context will be?

Teacher K: Last week, they were writing about.. For this task, students wrote about their mum – why she’s the best mum and deserves a box of chocolates for Mother’s Day. The writing topic changes, but basically the focus is persuasive writing. We’ve focused on initial paragraphs, giving reasons, and supporting those reasons, and we’ve done a concluding paragraph.

Facilitator: So can you identify your more able writers from the asTTle data and from their draft books?

Teacher K: Yes.

Facilitator: And are their needs for structure and content the same as for the other kids? Or not?

Teacher K: They can all improve in aspects of either structure or content.

Facilitator: So what we’re looking for in a DLO are the sorts of examples that will support the teaching of structure and content. We know that you will also want to be building on your previous learning focus, particularly language resources, because we know how important language is in persuasive writing. You’re not worried about topic so long as writing contexts are authentic for your students.

Teacher K: And that’s what I’ve tried to do – to find something meaningful. For example, the Mother’s Day topic worked because she [mum] gives them a reason.

Facilitator: OK, so we’ll have to make sure that the DLO we choose is not just a good idea that seems to be fun.

While the teachers have drawn on rich information about their students’ literacy development, they have not mentioned anything about the students’ ICT knowledge or expertise.

Explore the model - Knowledge of the learner >>

What data do you have about your students’ literacy strengths and learning needs?

What do you look for in a DLO to support teaching and learning?

What information do you have about your students’ ICT capability?