Inquiring into the inquiry planner…

When I published a post about planning recently, I wasn’t quite sure whether it would have broader appeal than the IB community. I included a link to a blank planner to give a sense of what it looks like and how PYP teachers plan. To my surprise, many non PYP teachers were interested in the format and keen to try this style of planning themselves.  I’m sometimes unsure if my language is PYP jargon, ‘teacher-speak’, or common English!  As it turned out, the post resonated for all kinds of educators who think deeply about learning.

Students as teachers

Galit’s Grade 6 Hebrew language students have been working in groups, preparing to teach various language structures to the rest of the class. Supporting the students in their planning, Galit found herself using the same language she uses when planning with her team of teachers, telling them to carefully consider their learning goals before planning any activities! When it comes to teaching and learning, I love a challenge, so when she came to ask what I thought of the idea of introducing the PYP planner to her students, I jumped at the invitation to team teach with her. It was brilliant!

Students as planners.

We told them that if they were going to teach, they needed to think like teachers and learners, and we showed them the planner. Their debate about which trans-disciplinary theme to choose was wonderful…

“I think it’s How We Express Ourselves, because that’s what we use language for”. “No, you’re wrong, it goes in How We Organise Ourselves, because we are exploring how the language works and the systems in the grammar”. One group worked to convince the class that the unit in fact belonged in Who We Are, since the Hebrew language is part of the Jewish culture and religion. It was interesting to hear them support and justify their arguments. Galit felt that talking in English, rather than Hebrew, for this part of their learning was a price well worth paying, because of the depth of the thinking they displayed.

After some discussion in small groups about the central idea, lines of inquiry and key concepts, consensus was reached as a class:

Central idea: Language connects us to our culture, our heritage and our homeland.

Key concepts:

Function – How does the language work?

Connection – How does it connect us to our culture, heritage and homeland?

Lines of Inquiry:

The grammatical structures in the Hebrew language (Function)

How the Hebrew language connects us to our culture, heritage and homeland. (Connection)

After the weekend, the students will work in their groups to plan learning engagements and assessments. I hope I’m invited back for the reflection.

I’m wondering…

  • Why do some teachers say young children can’t think at a high level?
  • Why do so many teachers talk about what kids can’t do?
  • Why do teachers keep the planning for learning a secret from their students?
  • Why do most teachers not discuss their teaching and learning with their students?
  • Why shouldn’t learners think like teachers and teachers think like learners?

About whatedsaid

Teaching and Learning Coordinator at an IB PYP school in Melbourne, Australia. I'm a teacher, a learner, an inquirer...
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5 Responses to Inquiring into the inquiry planner…

  1. What a wonderful experience! I sometimes ask many of those same questions, creating an environment that gives students a chance to step up is one of my favorite things as a learner. The grade 5’s at my last school enlarged the planner and posted it in the hallway for students, talked about it, and showed them how they were using it – it made a huge difference when it came time for the Exhibition. Students were able to easily pick up its use and run with it. I look forward to hearing about their reflections!


  2. Jason Graham says:

    Edna, love your wonderings. I have similar ones as well. Getting Ss involved planning their own learning should be explicit. Youve given me some ideas to get my ss more involved and take action in my own class. 🙂


  3. I love this! Going through the Exhibition right now with our students where they are expected to plan their inquiry – using a very similar process as teachers, in fact they use the same planner (slightly modified!). We shouldn’t wait until the final unit of the final year of the PYP to give students the opportunity to do this. The level of engagement and the quality of their conversations as they plan have been at the highest level. It is so worthwhile – and students can do it!


  4. Pingback: Inquiring into the inquiry planner… | Profesorbaker's Blog: A Bit of Everything

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