This article reveals how the reflective process can be the most valuable aspect of self-directed inquiry.
“Having completed the amazing Personal Project process this year which is tied to our How we express ourselves unit of inquiry but also to our pastoral [care] driving theme of self-awareness, the reflective processes were, in my opinion, the most valuable aspect of the whole experience. It is at this landmark that we can see how useful the process was, as opposed to the product, in student learning. What I discovered for this cohort of Year 5 is just how much the students themselves were aware of this outcome.
Although my classroom instruction and regular student dialogue has had an ongoing emphasis on the importance of regular feedback, formative processes and the ongoing learning, I tend to think that the penny did not drop for students until the completion of these personal projects. I discussed with the students that my attitude of appreciation was at the forefront–appreciating how far that students had come since the start of the year, appreciating the considerable inquiry undertaken and appreciating the unique and independently-motivated students that called our classroom home.
Interestingly, a number of students commented frankly that they had taken the emphasis off the final ‘outcome’ of their self-directed inquiry in order to dig deeper, to spread their thought net wider. I doubt whether this would have taken place 6 months ago. “I would have liked to do a nicer Prezi, but I spent all my time exploring my topic. And every answer I found gave me another question”.
Sure, not all students have yet to grasp the balance, and a personal project with no grades was a perplexing classroom activity for some, but the expanded range of preliminary thinking before at least progressing to their ‘product’ suggested baby steps are underway.
Students took great pride in applying the PYP key concept ‘lenses’ to drive their inquiry, and using the reflective process to truly engage their self-awareness that had been an underlying goal of the process.
As students put their individual reflection together, the class brought together their ideas to try and create a group-constructed reflective question. The fruit of this sits proudly on the wall beside my desk:
“How can we ensure that the desire to go further, the ability to manage our own learning and the importance of real inquiry is the same for all of our learning, not just our personal project?”
The verbal response to this ‘rhetorical question’ by one of our class’ learning support students – “I do not know, but I am pretty sure it comes from inside me”.”
The original article can be found on Steve’s blog here.
Steve co-founded the twitter-drive #PYPchat in early 2012. After many years in the State education system, the IB Primary Years Program was a major reason for his movement to MBBC, where he looks to model the love of inquiry and reflective practices for his students. He blogs at Feeding My ED-diction.