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Concept driven inquiry learning

Edna Sackson

Edna Sackson, PYP educator, Teaching and Learning Coordinator at Mount Scopus College, Australia

There is a buzz in the room as 11 year olds sit in groups around large sheets of butcher paper, talking animatedly. I like visiting this classroom, seeing how the two teachers collaborate and the children engage in their learning.

Today they are brainstorming the big ideas in Sharing the Planet, one of the transdisciplinary themes in the PYP curriculum framework.

In the build-up to this, students have watched David Attenborough’s Wonderful World and made connections with the transdisciplinary theme:

Inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and other living things; communities and the relationship within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution” (IB Primary Years Programme).

Their ideas include concepts such as environment, sustainability, pollution, responsibility, nature, society, economics, lifestyle, and consequences. I am impressed by the depth of their thinking, their ability to extract the conceptual ideas and the way they make connections with prior learning.

The teachers introduce the idea of biodiversity, a concept to which they have not been exposed before, without explaining it or doing any teaching. The students get the iPads and do their own exploration, in any way they like. They are encouraged to read, look at images, watch videos – the choice is theirs.

Later in the day I go back to ask how the learning unfolded…

“At the moment people are only thinking about what they should do, but not doing it. As this generation, it is our responsibility to take care of the planet for further generations”. (Michelle)

“I would like to inquire into all living beings’ rights. I want to know why different people/animals are treated differently and what the consequences are”. (Zara)

“I want to know how the loss of animals and plants affects the world and our life because if I do not know what difference it makes, I will not know how to change my habits”. (Noa)

“I should be aware that a little mistake can make a big difference. I would like to inquire into how we can make the world equal and fair so everyone has a home/habitat”. (Zoe)

“I want to know what will happen to the animals if we keep polluting the earth and taking the land because if there are no animals it will affect human life”. (Stella)

And this one…

“If we do not share the planet and make a difference, there will not be a future for us to live in…” (Josh)

The original article can be found in Edna’s blog here.

Edna shares her reflections at her personal blog, What Ed Said and she is co-administrator of the collaborative inquiry blog, Inquire Within.

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2 Responses to Concept driven inquiry learning

  1. Victor Vega 9 April 2014 at 7:32 am #

    Sounds engaging!

  2. Joy Goodenow 16 August 2021 at 9:52 pm #

    The students seems totally engaged and really understood the concept. I like how they were able to think beyond the initial activity and acknowledge that change must happen to protect the Earth.

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