Know your curriculum… and then make it accessible to students in a way that helps them to develop their own knowledge. The thing is that the curriculum is complex and a little wordy. Breaking it all down and in a way that makes sense to students opens the door of genuine inquiry.
Once students know what it is they need to know they then become more knowledgeable. This happens in two ways:
- They know what it is they are learning about,
- They know what knowledge they will need to move deeper and further into their inquiry.
From here, all the other essential elements of the PYP will open up for real inquiry. Before they even get to the knowledge component, they need to know what it all actually means. Let me walk you through step by step something that supported the students in developing their own understanding and meaning.
Students recorded their first thinking about what each of the 4 science strands meant to them. This informed me what they already knew about each one and gave me a very accurate picture as to their knowledge base as scientists.
Next, the students had the opportunity to read a lot of non-fiction text all about science across the four strands. They skimmed and scanned a wide range of books. They had a lot of time to do this on their own.
After reading independently they were able to share and connect the things they had noticed and discuss and explain together.
They then teamed up again and connected the things that they read and saw in the books and transferred to their second thinking. The language and details really lifted to a deeper and wider range from being exposed to scientific books.
As a result of finding out what they first new and then allowing them to research in a very informal setting, their second thinking was now very solid and they had made a huge step forward in knowing much more about each strand.
Our next step is to gather all their curiosities and then sort and categorize them into the correct science strand. By following the above steps the students informed my teaching on what they already know, what they need to know and what knowledge we need to develop as we look closer at each of their questions and thinking.
Students wrote as many questions as they could about the things they were curious about.
They also wrote questions from the things they recorded from the field trip the day before.
Students put their questions to the science strand that it naturally connected to which helped to develop and see how science connects to so many things.
Now we are ready to take one of their burning questions and start to connect it to the concepts to channel and focus the way they will approach and plan the next steps.