Adapted slightly from a recent post at What Ed Said.
Do you focus as much on the process of learning as the content?
Do your students reflect as much on how they learn as on what they learn.
As a PYP school, we have six units of inquiry each year, one under each of the following trans-disciplinary themes:
Before exploring any other subject areas, we plan to start the coming school year at each grade level, with an inquiry (directly or indirectly) into learning. A unit that sets the tone for all the coming units. One that gets students thinking about factors that contribute towards their learning and reflecting about how they learn.
Our Preps will inquire into how our learning environment helps us learn. It’s their first year of school, in a shared, flexible learning space, with new routines and timetables to adjust to, so this a fitting first inquiry for the year. (Trans-disciplinary Theme: How We Organise Ourselves)
Year 2 will investigate the qualities of effective learners and how these can help us learn, individually and collaboratively. We’re hoping that, through their inquiry, they will develop a better understanding of the Learner Profile, get to know themselves and others as learners and begin to take more responsibility for their learning. They might decide to ask the world about the qualities of effective learners, so be ready! (Trans-disciplinary Theme: Who We Are)
Year 4 will inquire into independence and how this can empower us, not just in our learning, but in life. One line of inquiry will explore what it means to take responsibility for one’s own learning. Teachers’ discussion during the collaborative planning session indicates this will be a worthwhile exploration for teachers, as much as for students.
Year 6 will explore individual and group decision-making and its impact, personally, in the classroom community and working outwards towards their study of government.
The intention is that starting the year with inquiries such as these will increase students’ awareness of themselves as learners and help build learning communities in our classrooms and in our school.
It gives a very purposeful ‘angle’ to the work we do on setting up the classroom and making decisions about the kind of space and culture we are constructing with students…. One thing to bear in mind is that these inquiries often don’t require the same length of time as others do…they act as powerful ‘start up’ investigations and students need to apply the learning about learning sooner rather than later or it starts to feel abstract and disconnected. I love the idea of this being a start up inquiry AND a year long inquiry …’learning about learning’ is an overarching, recurring theme.
In every unit of inquiry, true inquiry teachers learn along with their students. ‘Learning about learning’ should be a powerful exploration for everyone in our learning community.