Planning for learning…
The way we plan PYP units of inquiry is different from the way many other teachers plan. The planner is designed to make teachers think deeply about the learning, before planning a single learning experience. It’s always a collaborative process, including much thinking and discussion.
- We start from the end. What do we want students to understand? We don’t talk about activities till we know where we are going and why. And yet it’s more about the process than the end result.
- It’s concept driven, not content based. We begin with a conceptual central idea, an enduring understanding that is broad, significant, engaging and transferable to other contexts.
- We plan a powerful provocation to hook students in, get them thinking and asking questions about the big ideas.
- Within the framework of our central idea, students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning, explore their own inquiries and build conceptual understandings.
- We consider what evidence we will look for that learning has taken place. We keep in mind the variety of ways students may express their learning..
- Although inquiry is embraced as a stance, there is explicit teaching of skills. We plan what we would like to see demonstrated in terms of transdisciplinary skill development.
- Reflection and metacognition are essential components for all learners, both teachers and students.
- The ultimate goal is to create lifelong learners so we are constantly aware of developing the attributes of the learner profile.
- All of the above are thoughtfully considered, before and during the planning of learning engagements.
- We map out some possibilities, but there are endless ways of getting to the destination. Moving off the ‘intended path‘ is a sign of success, not a sign of failure.
We are trialling Managebac, an integrated management system for IB schools. As always, we start from the learning. If teachers are going to buy in, they need to see how we can use it to enhance learning, not just as an organisational tool. But this isn’t a post about a management system, it’s about planning for authentic learning. And it’s about our journey as a community of learners.
The PYP unit of inquiry planner in Managebac simplifies the planning process. Everyone loves the ease of use. We can pull up the definitions of the concepts to help choose the lens for our inquiry and we can access the curriculum with a click to ensure we are addressing the necessary skills and knowledge. We like the way the headings come up one at a time and we can consider first the overarching theme, then the central idea, then the concepts, then the skills.
But the more experienced teachers, who have a deep understanding of the way the planner is designed and why, are a little disturbed by the linear format. We’ve passed this on to the Managebac team, who seem very supportive. We’ve told them that planning isn’t linear. Learning isn’t linear. We need the central idea and concepts on every page, so we don’t lose sight of the ultimate learning goals while we think about possible activities. And that assessment is intertwined with the learning engagements, it’s not a separate task or test.
At the end, you click a button and the program generates a comprehensive PDF of the PYP planner, in the familiar non-linear format to which we have grown accustomed. The staff is delighted! I hope the teachers can see the Managebac planning process as a metaphor. While we might consider all the elements separately and individually, they are part of a complex whole. We can’t plan or teach without the big picture of learning.
If only that was as easy as clicking a button!