Month: January 2018

#Inquiry: Transforming Learning Objectives and Intentions.

#Inquiry: Transforming Learning Objectives and Intentions.

I had an Aha-Moment this week and I am bursting to share it! You see I grew up and was trained in the American school system so most of my pedagogical schema is steeped in a Standards-Based Approach to teaching and learning. Lessons must have learning objectives, which usually are framed around the State’s curriculum or nowadays there is the Common Core. When I write or state the objective on the board, there is a magnetic pull that drives the learning towards meeting that goal. I get tunnel vision and achieving this standard becomes a primary focus, if not for the day, then for the week. But can we still attain the skills and knowledge in the curriculum without letting the learning intention be the end-all/be-all in our lessons?

Let me just set the stage for my lightbulb moment:

One of my colleagues had said earlier this year that she feels like when you do inquiry it seems like you have to always make the students guess what they are learning about. It’s as if learning intention is a mystery. And so herein lies the challenge with inquiry-based learning when it meets the standards-based curriculum training. Is there a happy medium? And I think I found the answer and the answer is YES!

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Compliments of the wonderful teachers at VIS, Mr. David, and Mr. John!

Did you catch that? In the example above, they just open up the lesson  with a question and it naturally covered standards that would be typically on the board or stated as you tell your students what they would be learning about in that 4th-grade lesson:

  • Use the four operations with whole numbers to solve problems. (Common Core)
  • 4.1.2.1.f checking reasonableness of answers. ( Singapore Mathematics Syllabi)
  • Know multiplication and division facts for the 2× to 10× tables (Cambridge)

If you’re a PYP teacher then we are always packing our unit planners with “teacher questions”.  I already was well aware that questions are vital for inquiry teaching and learning. But it never occurred to me that I could or should turn the learning intention/objective into a question. It totally changes the dynamic of the lesson, in which a clear path of learning is set yet there is still enough space for curiosity and divergent thinking.

So I’m going to start transforming my WALT (W.hat we A.re L.earning T.oday) into questions so that students have a goal and purpose for learning. And then I’d like to end with a student reflection: Did we answer the question? Why or why not?

I think when we shift from Telling To Asking, we start moving away from didactic approaches and move into curiosity and student agency. I’m going to test out this tweak and I invite others to do the same so that more student interest and inquiry can be sparked.

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Judy Imamudeen

Judy Imamudeen

Developing learners as leaders is my joy! As a highly qualified International Baccaluearate (IB) teacher and educational leader, I am committed and passionate about executing its framework and empowering students in creating a future world that works for everyone.

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