Yes, my brain hurts this morning — in a very, very, very big way! As we continue to inquire in the classroom, my students often tell me that their “brain hurts,” and I see this as a good sign that they’re thinking. I hope that the same is true for me. Now I’m at the point that I need some help, some advice, or maybe just some good hard questions to get me thinking more. 🙂
Last night, I was looking ahead to next week and trying to do some planning with my student teacher. Right now, we’re finishing our Election Campaign Social Studies Inquiry, and the plan was to move to our Bunch of Bills inquiry activity. I was good with this plan … until this morning. You see, this morning, I looked more closely at the next activity, and now I’m questioning if it’s the best thing to do. While our current Election Campaign was just supposed to be about highlighting the issues at the different levels of government, it’s become more than that. Students are offering solutions, as they know that people won’t vote for them without these solutions. As the students offer the solutions then, we can discuss the pros and cons together, and they can then go back and revise their plans. Do the students still need more time proposing solutions to problems then? Yes, I think they do, as these issues are complicated ones, and the solutions need to address the problem as well as the stakeholders involved. The students also need to look at if their solutions lead to more problems, and these are discussions that are consistently coming out of our guided groups.
So what’s my concern? While I think that students would benefit from some more time to explore issues, I don’t know if they need the complex exploration that is outlined in the Bunch of Bills inquiry activity. That’s when I decided to look back through the curriculum expectations — especially the overall ones for this unit. Here are my thoughts:
- The students all understand that there are three different levels of government and that all levels of government have different responsibilities.
- The students know many examples of these responsibilities, and they can outline examples of overlapping responsibilities.
- The students understand that each level of government is involved in various issues, and when dealing with these issues, they need to consider the points of view of the different stakeholders involved.
- The students need more opportunities to create questions connected to the disciplines of thinking, and use these questions to guide their research.
- The students would benefit from developing questions connected to a specific issue, and spend more time examining solutions to this issue. They need to outline why their suggested solution is the best one for everyone involved.
It’s with this in mind that I’m considering making a change to my Social Studies plan. I wonder if instead of doing the Bunch of Bills activity, I make a list of various issues from the different levels of government. I can pick ones that the students are interested in, while still providing lots of choices. Then students can pick an issue, and generate questions about that issue (especially connecting to “perspective”). They can examine the answers to these questions, and use their new information to suggest a solution to the problem that would address the needs of all stakeholders. We can end with a Challenge Game, where other students can ask questions to get the groups thinking about problems with their solutions and any revisions that need to happen. This will not be a culminating task. It will address student needs, and it does connect to the overall expectations in the curriculum document. Is this the way to go though? What do you think of this revised plan? I welcome all ideas! Thanks!
Aviva (My brain’s feeling a little less sore after some good blogging time! 🙂 )
Hi, I think that you are on track. We have to address the big ideas in the unit. The levels of government are only an aspect to our perception of government. We really need to know what the role Government is in relation to particular issues. This is more the doing of social studies.
Thanks Byron! This was kind of my thinking too. Since “the issues” component seems to be the more difficult area — largely because the issues are complex ones for students in Grade 5 — I think that additional time looking closely at the issues and possible solutions is the way to go. I’m glad to hear that I might be on the right track!
I like the idea that you are reflecting on what to do next. It’s about being flexible and following the path that makes sense for you and your students. We want students to go deep and have a solid understanding.
Thanks Louise! Inquiry seems to be ever-evolving, and we need to make changes (I think) depending on student needs and interests (linked to the curriculum of course). Here’s what I ended up doing with this activity: http://missdunsiger.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/wp-content/blogs.dir/3156/files/2013/08/A-Bunch-Of-Bills-Revised1.pdf
Overall, the changes are small ones, but I think important ones. We’ll see how things go, and then I can always change things again!