When teachers are transitioning into the PYP-ways of collaboratively planning a Unit of Inquiry, it is not uncommon to receive requests to spend time “coming up with activities for the unit“. Such was true last week, when I received this request from our wonderful Grade 3 team. I have recently shared my perspective of the role of activities in the PYP, so I had to be careful to make sure that I resisted the urge to give them my meaning and instead provided them with an opportunity to construct their own meaning. In short, I wanted to take an inquiry-based approach!
Here is how it went:
Tuning in – Each teacher brainstormed 2-3 activities for their upcoming unit and wrote them on half-sheets of paper. I collected these so we could use them later. This also gave me a great insight into their understanding of what an activity is and their approach to inquiry-based planning.
Provocation – To provoke their thinking about activities and inquiry-based planning, I showed them the following excerpts from a collection of blog posts and encouraged them to share their reactions, connections, tensions and questions.
What inquiry teachers are saying…
Sorting Out – First, the teachers spread the stages of the Kath Murdoch inquiry cycle around our multipurpose room floor.
Then, they took all the questions from this version of the inquiry cycle and placed them beside the stage of inquiry they felt the questions supported.
Next, they took a collection of Visible Thinking Routines and matched them to the specific questions they felt the VTR could help explore.
After that, they took 20 printed out Tweets from #pypchat of actual PYP classroom examples and matched them the stages of inquiry or the respective question.
Finally, they took their own activities from the beginning of our time together and placed them around the inquiry cycle.
After much discussion, collaboration, disagreement, debate and deep thinking, the final result was a collection of questions, VTRs and classrooms examples that they could walk away with for their upcoming unit, that would hopefully help satiate their need for “activities” without stealing too much thinking from their students.
I also hope this inquiry helped to challenge their understanding of what planning looks like in the PYP, as well as to continue to experience what learning through inquiry feels like.
I haven’t had a chance yet to debrief and reflect with the whole team, but I did receive an email from one of the teachers saying:
“Thank you so much for today. The activity really provoked me and it really got me thinking. It was great!”
I look forward to hearing the rest of the team’s reflections and what action they have taken since this inquiry!