Who controls the learning?
This post grew out of a conversation with my personal learning network the other night. I was chatting about inquiry learning with a group of educators in Australia, Ghana, Chile, Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Canada and Bulgaria. Maggie was on her lunch break in Switzerland, Jen was on a ferry in Hong Kong, @Mallocup was at an automatic car-wash in Abu Dhabi … Join us next time for #pypchat, wherever you are.
The conversation turned towards how much we plan ahead and how much unfolds naturally along the way. I’m wondering…
Do you prepare a range of teaching activities in advance?
Or do you plan a strong provocation and then see how the learning unfolds naturally?
Is your plan a checklist, on which you cross off each activity you’ve ‘done’?
Or do you change your plan every day depending on the needs and interests of the students?
Do you know exactly what will happen in your classes?
Or do you really listen to students’ questions, answers and thoughts, allowing those to direct the learning?
Does every student do the same thing in your class?
Or do learners have choice where they take their learning and how they might share it?
Do you focus on covering the material and how best to teach it?
Or do you spark curiosity so that learners are inspired to question, explore and discover?
Is this you…?
Some thoughts from the chat participants:
- I have seen big differences among our teachers here, some plan in detail, others let unfold – but all plan summative first @tgalletti
- We’re moving to planning much less. Well planned provocation essential. And ways to assess prior knowledge/current understanding. @gedmis
- Tune in, have a few workshops and hand it all over to the kids and facilitate them in their myriad of directions @emmalinesports
- That is where the battle is always. The balance between end in mind and mind the end. @wholeboxndice
- I’ve just crossed so many activities off my current planner so there is time 4 student inquiry – trying to step back @Saigon_Eldred
- There is a difference between prescribing and planning. @wholeboxndice
- Plan a framework with which the Ss can inquire within, needs some boundaries which are negotiable @jasongraham99
- Try not to but PYP coord insists!! Pure based/problem based inquiry not much at all. @travisattis
- @travisattis the planner should be a narrative of what happened, not a prescribed list of what will happen @DwyerTeacher
- Record the route as it unfolds. One eye on map and compass to steer back towards destination when necessary @gedmis
- We can’t learn anything about what children think if we signal to them what we hope they will say @cpaterso
The discussion continued later with Craig Dwyer in Japan. He shared an article he has written on this topic, in which he says:
I am never at ease with myself before I start a new unit. I worry
about how much I am projecting my view of a topic onto my students. I
worry about how their interpretations will be linked to my
interpretations. I want them to create their own meaning, but at the
same time, I want to tell them a story.
and later this…
As a general rule for myself, I never plan anything more than one
day in advance. The story and the learning objectives are working in
tandem with the students curiosity, questions and understandings; and
together they are forming the shape of the unit.
Watch out for the full article, published soon on Teaching Paradox.
Who controls the learning in your class?