Friday, July 11, 2014

Our Programme of Inquiry ... Transdisciplinary?

Developing our Programme of Inquiry has not been an easy task. As it is a collaborative process, it is important for each member of the team to embody the Learner Profile and put social skills into practice, especially profile attributes such as being good communicators, open-minded, caring and reflective, and skills like respecting others, group decision-making and cooperating.

I have mixed feelings about how the Programme of Inquiry is turning out. Although we have some super exciting, challenging, interesting and relevant units of inquiry, we have others that, at least in the written curriculum seem ambiguous, confusing and just plainly wishy - washy.

The reason for this feeling is product of our teams discussions on how to plan for truly transdisciplinary units of inquiry, an issue that I have thoroughly discussed in the post "Achieving Transdisciplinary Learning". 

I have decided that to settle this subject I am going to follow my gut feeling, along with following the advice I have received from others, and the literature research I have don:

Central Ideas should reflect the enduring understanding you wish students to develop through the unit of inquiry; they can and should include both concepts and knowledge from the subject areas that will be participating in the unit, and the transdisciplinary nature of the learning will be produced due to the understanding of concepts that are timeless, universal, and applicable in a variety of contexts

So.... there is nothing wrong with a central idea that looks like this:

Our habits affect our bodies and well-being, and in turn, helps shape who we are. 

(*I am not saying this central idea is perfect, but I think it's OK.)

However.... (yes, there is a but... AAARRRRGGGGG)

... I cannot change the Programme of Inquiry which was a product of collaboration among some teachers, so...

I will continue revising the Programme of Inquiry, thinking on all the criteria explained in official IB documents, and posting my comments and reflections for future discussions with the staff.

As the school functions based on trimesters, and there are 2 units of inquiry per trimester, we have time to continue refining and embellishing our Programme of Inquiry.

After the first unit is over, I will ask teachers to intensively reflect on the following:

  • What did students learn throughout the unit of inquiry? In what ways is this learning connected to the central idea?
  • What are your assessment outcomes? In what measure did students understand the central ideas? In what measures did they comprehend the concepts and the knowledge of the unit?
  • How easy or hard was it for the different subject - areas to contribute to the understanding of the central idea?
I hope that through these reflections and discussions we can conclude on the impact of having broad, no-mention-to-subjects-whatsoever, ambiguous central ideas, where "almost anything in the world can fit".

Perhaps the impact will be positive and my gut feeling may not be right after all... I will try to be as open-minded as I can and will accept this, and in fact, it would be great if this were the case because our programme would not have to suffer so many changes!

But if my gut feeling is right after all, the learning that will be produced after having the first unit of inquiry and then reflecting about it, will cause us to be willing to (and needing to) make the necessary changes to the programme of inquiry.

I will be posting to record what happens with this!

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