What is your practice? Does your unit planning start from what the students know and build from there? Do your students have a clear and strong voice in planning the activities, visits and action to be taken in the unit? Or do you ‘do’ the inquiry unit as planned with little revision to suit the learners?
Fraser (2000, p.35) comments:
…teachers are in fact planning the units in advance, and consulting with the students only on a few minor details. The core elements, activities and direction of the units, as decided by the teacher, remain unchanged.
- We know the power of incorporating student voice at all levels of learning.
- We know gathering prior knowledge is a very important first step.
- We know student choice is a powerful engagement tool.
So, prior knowledge step number one is:
1. Start with what they know.
I have worked with groups of students for many years facilitating the planning of units of inquiry using the same steps and approach as teachers use. Teachers are astonished when they receive the planning and often choose to use the plan with minor modifications. Why? Because the planning is authentic, starts from “what the students know” and engagement is instant.
2. Students know how they like to learn best.
3. Students feel empowered when they carry out the planning and engagement is assured.
Students I have worked with feel proud that they have developed the unit and are very excited to begin learning. Incorporating student voice and choice to such a degree encourages student agency and ownership of their learning.
The following link is a unit of inquiry planned entirely by a group of Year 8 girls at Selwyn House.
I am sure they would love you to trial the unit.