Concept-Based Planning: A step by step guide to planning an inquiry.

I was inspired to create this work after a recent activity in which myself and several colleagues were asked to create a unit of inquiry from the beginning through to the first week of teaching. It was a productive experience and it made me think more deeply about my own planning process so I decided to have a go at creating my own unit of inquiry and documenting the steps. For my example I chose the transdisciplinary theme Who We Are, aimed at a class of 3-4 year olds, and running for the whole year.

I began by breaking down the descriptor for the transdisciplinary theme, highlighting any related concepts. As this is a whole year inquiry I found it helpful to identify a wide range of related concepts as this would allow a different focus for the inquiry at different times of the year. My next step was to consider which key concepts transcend the related concepts that had been identified.

Note: Some may choose to start with the key concepts and then identify the related concepts.

Once I had identified the key concepts I considered the approaches to learning. Which skills will the children learn through during the inquiry? And finally, which of the Learner Profile do we wish to develop during this inquiry?

Considering all the elements identified so far, I created my Central Idea and Lines of Inquiry. This is the part that I have reflected on the most. I am not sure I am quite happy with the Central Idea and Lines of Inquiry but for the purpose of demonstrating process rather than product it will have to do. Having a few more lines of inquiry may be useful if considering different focuses throughout the year but I think the 4 suggestions given below are pretty broad and provide ample opportunity to provide different focus throughout the year.

Now I have my Central Idea and Lines of Inquiry I need to consider my teacher questions that will drive the inquiry and what will learning look like in week 1? I have considered the learning engagements that promote the development of the Key Concepts and teacher questions that begin to explore the related concepts through the lines of inquiry.

Once I was at this stage I started to consider how the subjects are embedded into the inquiry. I then considered the conceptual understandings that the learning engagements would address regrading each subject. Through this process I can begin to map out the conceptual understandings within each subject. This can be further explored during the coming process.

I think that once you have intentionally oragnised your learning spaces to support independent, or guided, exploration it is important to document observations of the children, how are they using this space? What questions are they asking? In a perfect world it would now be the children’s questions and personal inquiries that begin to shape the unit. These will support educators in thinking about next steps.

Week 1:

I would like to thank Anne Van Dam for inspiring, and challenging, my thinking and also for reintroducing me to one-point rubrics. These are great for tracking individual’s progress overtime. The one below has been created using I can … statements. I have used one-point rubrics in the past and have never been sure about the headings. I found the idea for Glows and Grows on line and quite liked it.

This kind of assessment would be more beneficial if it were shared with specialist educators so that we can develop an even broader understanding of the learners development and progress.

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