Inquiry learning in 2022

At Kerry Street, we ensure children receive high-quality education within our community-spirited environment. Teachers work together and with our Education Assistants to deliver a balance of whole-school programming infused with their unique respective styles and ideas.

We follow and deliver the Australian Curriculum and Western Australian Curriculum Framework in a way that caters for each child’s particular learning requirements. Our school fosters an Inquiry approach to education, favouring exploration, interaction and projects relevant to real life, which aims to keep students engaged and passionate throughout their learning journeys. An ever-developing variety of opportunities and resources are provided through which children can discover their interests and strengths. We believe that finding a way for children to feel inspired about learning so they can fulfil their individual potential is vital and is a key component of our school’s educational philosophy.

At Kerry Street Community School, we use Kath Murdoch’s Inquiry Cycle which consists of six steps:

Through this process students develop skills for inquiring that carry through their schooling years and students and staff have a common language to discuss and share their Inquiries.

Read on to hear about key Inquiries for each class in 2022.

Bindi-Bindi Mia

Jess Forth

At the beginning of term, our Principal, Melissa came to Bindi Bindi Mia (K/PP) and Moorditj Yonga Mia (1/2) with a very important job; to design the sensory path for our school. We tuned into the Inquiry and discussed what a sensory path is and how it uses our 5 senses. Then we entered the ‘Finding out’ phase: together, our classes researched examples of sensory paths and brainstormed ideas of what they would like to include.

During the ‘Sorting out’ phase, we looked at our brainstorm ideas and decided to choose what would be practical for the sensory path. We went on a materials/ideas hunt in the front yard and the Wilderness Space to find anything we could use for the sensory path. Children took photos and then shared their ideas with the class. They then wrote a list of materials/ideas that they would need for the path.

After choosing our materials and creating a list, we decided to create a draft design of the sensory path. The Pre-Primary students designed their own sensory path including the materials they selected from their materials list. We wondered, ‘What should we put in our sensory path?’ We discussed our 5 senses and how we could incorporate them into our design. The Pre-Primary students then wrote labels for their designs.

In the ‘Going further’ phase, Melissa came in and we showed her our designs and ideas for the sensory path. She then spoke to us about our designs and gave us great feedback! We then took action and got involved in creating the sensory path with Gary. Each of us painted a stone to go in a section of the sensory path. We eagerly watched on as the sensory path began to take shape.

We watched the sensory path progress very quickly! We were so excited to be asked, to be the first testers of the first part of the path! We used the class choices of plants and herbs to plant in the garden at Busy Bee. We watched the stones we painted, set into the path with concrete and the artificial grass go in. We were super excited as each part of the path progressively opened for us to try out!

As the sensory path was completed, we were so excited to try it out. As the last part of the sensory path was finished, we needed to consider the musical aspect of the path. We looked back at our original brainstorm at the selection of instruments we decided to include. We brainstormed what materials we would need to include these instruments. Together, we created instruments that would be used temporarily until more permanent options were completed.

Moorditj Yonga Mia

Jacey Long

In Term 2, students entered the classroom and saw that their home corner had changed. We had set up a large dinosaur and animal discovery zone filled with bones, animals in resin, costumes, and information books about animals. We noticed some local wildlife at the park. We had seen a few birds nesting in the trees and wanted to learn more about them. We were ‘Tuning in’ to the natural World around us.

We began our inquiry process by ‘Finding out’ about different categories of animals that we know. We brainstormed the different types of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects that we know. Each week we chose a different category and voted on an animal to study as a class. We watched documentaries and read information texts about these animals. We watched documentaries, read books, and researched the Taipan, ladybird and rainbow lorikeet. We ‘Sorted out’ ideas: students wrote information texts on each animal, we went for a hunt around the Wilderness Space to take photographs of native animals and, we noticed all the insects that live in the area.

After working as a class, we took our ideas further, I asked students to choose an animal to research independently. To aid in their research, we went on an excursion as a class to the WA Wildlife Centre. Here, we learned about various native mammals and reptiles and how to take care of them. Students researched the habitat their animals lived in. We designed and created dioramas using recycled materials.

As a class, we were learning about information texts, so the students decided to create books about their research animals. Students looked at various information texts and figured out that an information book is made up of several parts including a title page, contents page, pages on habitat, diet and other facts and a back cover with a blurb.

We presented at our community meeting and shared our learning from the excursion. Students showed their dioramas and played a game of “Guess which animal lives in the habitat”. Students decided they wanted to ‘Take action’ by raising money for WA Wildlife. To do this, we planned a pyjama day fundraiser for the whole school. Students created posters advertising the day and announced our plan at the community meeting. Students celebrated the Inquiry cycle by presenting their books and dioramas to their parents at an open class afternoon tea.

Yokine Mia

Mim Stephens

Yokine Mia recently shared their National NAIDOC Week Inquiry and learning with our school community at our first community meeting for Term 3. Students performed the song Yurala, by The Spinifex Gum Choir, and spoke of their investigations into the government’s decision to dam the Harding River back in 1982 and consequently drown many significant sites of the Yindjibarndi people in Roebourne. This connection to the story of the Seven Sisters was discovered by their teacher, Mim, on a trip to Roebourne and connected to the children’s prior learning of creation stories and seeing the Seven Sisters exhibition at WA Museum Boola Bardip in 2021. “Seeing a local girl proudly sing ‘Yurala’ at the cultural centre woke me up to the story and made me take notice of the story being told on the big screen. Her passion was palpable, and she was the same age as the children I teach, I knew they too would feel passionate about the story.”

At the beginning of NAIDOC Week, the children ‘Tuned in’ reading the Seven Sisters story and watched different videos about the meaning behind this legend, this also reflected the Aboriginal people’s connection to Country and the sacred sites described. They also watched the movie from the Seven Sisters exhibition and connected to their prior learning. This sparked an interest in mapping the story and the discovery of the Roebourne area.

“As soon as I played them Yurala and showed them the lyrics, I knew I had them hooked. Their frustration around the government’s actions and overall sense of sadness made me realise this generation is so well-informed. They wanted to know more and from there, our Inquiry travelled, powered by their curiosity.”

Mim Stephens, Yokine Mia Classroom Teacher

The class, guided by their teacher, entered the ‘Finding out’ and ‘Sorting out’ phases: they integrated HASS and English learning, looking at Yindjibarndi language and writing informative texts. Finally, the students took their ideas further and took action by singing their hearts out at community meeting with a performance that everyone enjoyed, and the community learned from. This learning was enriched by music and had a lasting impact on the whole class and the school community.

Kaarla Mia

Taylah Griffin

Two years ago, Kerry Street staff recognised the need for our eldest students to be given more responsibility and opportunities to lead our school. As a result, Kaarla Mia staff developed a leadership Inquiry based on individual strengths and expertise. This year, Kaarla Mia tuned into their leadership journey with an exploration into Australian Leaders, listening to Halogen 1 – minute wisdoms and noting the key messages. Bindi Irwin’s message “No matter where you go you need to carry your passion with you” fuelled their inquiry into strengths, passions and being a leader. The students within Kaarla Mia worked with their teacher, Taylah to identify their own areas of strength and areas in which they could draw passion from.

They delved into stories, videos, and articles to find out more about what a leader is and what the responsibility of a leader is, and from this, they created their leadership roles. These roles include: Tech masters, Wellbeing Leaders, Eco Leader, STEM/building leaders, Library Leader, Sports Kings, Art Leader, Chicken People, Junk Guy and Box Boy. The students created logos for each of their roles to wear on a lanyard.

Linking back to our tuning in stage, Adam Goodes stated, “When you want something you just can’t hope you get it… focus on the end goal” This is where the students were guided to work out what their goals within their roles will be, specifically what they are hoping to achieve by being in this role. Working together the students identified their goals and then began to go further and take action. Within Semester One, we saw some great achievements from students running lunchtime groups, to assist in classes, and organising resources. The students are allocated 1 hour a fortnight to complete activities that contribute to their final goal. In this time, they are required to use agency, time management and work independently. At Kerry Street Community School, we genuinely foreground and prioritise the contribution of students to whole school leadership and improved culture, and through this leadership inquiry, we have been able to embed our students voices and change into our everyday life. By working with their strengths and providing adequate space and time for students to nurture their sense of hope, well-being, and engagement, we, as educators can ensure that the next generation is well-equipped to create and safeguard a positive, inclusive future society.

To find out more about our approach to Education and the educational philosophies we incorporate at Kerry Street head to our About page.