Some people fear change, some embrace it. Change is a funny one. Because we are always changing. Our kids change, our knowledge and understanding changes, units change, the people around us changes and of course we change. I have been having a lot of conversations about change with people the past week. Some people are good at moving with change, but they also want continuity and consistency too. Change is good, but it doesn’t always mean we have to change everything, for the sake of changing. If you have used something that works, then keep using it. Well, that’s until it is actually time to do something different because it longer works.
The point I am trying to make is, I don’t feel guilty in sticking with what works. How the kids interpret it and the way they respond WILL be very different from the year before. There is a place for continuity, if you are open to experiment with it and build upon it each time.
This made me think about my own practice and how I approach units. My intension is always to go into new units with fresh ideas. Especially, when it comes to thinking about who the kids are and what would be helpful during their inquires.
There are some things that I have used and will continue to use, just because they are that good. It can’t be improved and it is so useful when guiding and leading the kids down the right path – a meaningful path.
Using a visual is such a powerful way to represent what a unit is all about. We have used some visuals that are totally original and new. These visuals have been developed and taken shape through team planning meetings. And some visuals have been used or adapted from the good stuff that is already out there. And there is a lot of good stuff floating around.
Time for some real examples:
(1) Something original which was developed through planning (Author – Sam Sherratt)
Last year we were looking at a way to guide students through a scientific process. We felt that a flow chart would be the most effective way. While the team was discussing ideas and possibilities. Sam went to work and was able to show this through a flow chart. This is what he came up with.
I have now used the above flow chart two years in a row and it has totally helped me and the kids. The questions have been so different (naturally) that it has seemed like a totally different experience, especially how the kids have shared their understanding about their curiosity.
(2) Something already out there that is transferable (Author – Alan Atkisson)
The compass is a really good way to get the students to look at different points, especially though the themes of Sharing the planet or Where we are in place and time. This was something that was already being used and it become a guiding light to frame thinking and develop understanding by contextualizing the unit. This is what the compass looks like:
So, what has this got to do with change?
There are some things I won’t change just because I know it works. It works every time and brings out the most in the way student’s think and learn. These visual will remain part of my teaching tools because they have proven to work. What do other people use again and again because it is so useful and helpful to light the way for learning? I would be very interested to learn more about the things that work really well! What is the good stuff out there?