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    The ‘I Wonder’ Curriculum: An Enquiry-Based Approach to History in Junior Infants

    Mahon, Louise (2022) The ‘I Wonder’ Curriculum: An Enquiry-Based Approach to History in Junior Infants. Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    The aim of this self-study action research project was to enhance my teaching of the Myself strand of the Junior Infant History curriculum so that lessons reflected the lives of the children I teach. The research was conducted in a multi-grade Junior/Senior Infant class in an urban DEIS school. In line with the principles of self-study action research, my values were articulated and used to highlight times when my values and practice were in tension. To address this tension, an intervention was designed to ensure History lessons were child-centred, democratic and inclusive. This was achieved through use of a dialogic teaching method, I-wonder questions and sharing of historical evidence to encourage children to ask questions about their own lives and the lives of their families. Families became involved when these questions were sent home in children’s History Portfolios. Further involvement from families occurred when they were invited into school to work on an art-based Family Tree Project. A qualitative approach was taken to data collection as this method allowed for a range of voices to be included in my research, including the voice of children, parents/grandparents, colleagues and academics. Data was collected using questionnaires, interviews, work samples, photographs and a teacher reflective journal. The ethical implications were considered and addressed prior to commencing research. A reflexive thematic analysis approach was taken to data analysis resulting in the emergence of four findings. The findings revealed the central place of parents/grandparents sharing details of the children’s histories to help children meet the objectives of the History curriculum. Furthermore, the research found that teacher-sharing of stories, photographs and artefacts from their own history awakens the children’s curiosity and acts as a stimulus for historical enquiry. The remaining findings were that children’s ability to act agentically during History lessons is impacted by adult perceptions of agency and children’s ability to formulate questions about their lives. Illustrations have been used in Chapter One to show the research journey and changes to my mindset when teaching History as a result. These images have been included with kind permission from the illustrator, David Mahon. The self-study research approach has had an impact on the way I teach the Myself strand of the History curriculum. My planning in the future will include participation from parents/grandparents and use of historical evidence. Lessons will be child-led, based on children’s questions, so that the objectives of the History curriculum are tailored to each child in my class.

    Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
    Additional Information: M.Ed. Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education
    Keywords: self-study action research; values; reflection; History; Junior Infants; families; funds of knowledge; family portfolio; agency; dialogic teaching; I-wonder questions; enquiry; historical evidence;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education
    Item ID: 17303
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2023 11:12
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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