Instead we spend our planning time reflecting collaboratively, exploring which conceptual lenses will produce the deepest learning and designing a few powerful provocations to generate student thinking and inquiry.
The Australian curriculum expects us to ‘cover’ a large amount of geographical knowledge in Year 6 including, among other things –
- The location of the major countries of the Asia region in relation to Australia and the geographical diversity within the region.
- Differences in the economic, demographic and social characteristics between countries across the world.
- The various connections Australia has with other countries and how these connections change people and places.
- The effects that people’s connections with, and proximity to, places throughout the world have on shaping their awareness and opinion of those places.
We start our planning session by revisiting the reflections at the end of last year’s planner. Some of the teachers who taught the unit last year share what went well and what can be improved. Joc is concerned by the lack of depth and we realise that we had too many different lines of inquiry. Michelle feels the students had many misconceptions and generalisations…
There’s no point in trying to include too many aspects of the Australian Curriculum if the learning is superficial as a result. As Cristina suggests in her post, we need to ask ourselves ‘To what end?’
We revisit the big ideas and consider which conceptual lenses will help our learners break down misconceptions and result in deeper learning.
As we develop the rubric for conceptual understandings, we go back and forth, change our own and each others’ minds and realise that we need to change one of the concepts to better achieve the desired end. This part of the planning takes time, but it’s well worth the investment. Planning learning engagements will be simple once we know where we are heading and why.
Using ‘reflection‘ (How do we know?) as one of our conceptual lenses will provide opportunities for our learners to reflect on preconceived generalisations and stereotypes. At the start of the unit of inquiry they will be able to say what they THINK they know about different countries and HOW they know. By the end, we hope they can explain how some of their preconceptions have changed as a result of acquiring new knowledge and developing understanding.
Once we are satisfied with that, the central idea needs rewriting …
‘Deepening our knowledge about the world takes us beyond generalisations and stereotypes’
With this big idea as the through-line, learners will have a clear sense of purpose, as they interact with people in other countries, find out more about the factors that influence how they live (causation) and explore how countries are interconnected (connection).
They will have opportunities to focus on their own areas of interest, to question and wonder, read, view and talk to primary sources… all the while increasing their knowledge, deepening their understandings and making sure they go beyond stereotypes and generalisations.
(At the time of facilitating the collaborative planning session, this seems like a good direction, but I’m never certain. Feedback, questions and challenges welcomed…)