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Innovative 21st Century Teaching and Learning

The 21st Century Planning Process

I have this belief that the planning documents need to lead teachers through the thinking and behaviour you are trying to encourage in them. They are not just to capture information (although this is an important part of the process). How the teachers fill in the documents will tell you a lot about their current thinking.

So when you look at HOW the teachers fill in their current documents, their detail, their use of the current planning documents, and so on ... their actions will reveal their mindset and understanding and how much they value the process of planning. It will identify gaps in their thinking and possibly their understanding. It could also identify gaps in rigour and the discipline of planning.

In designing the process of planning I would want to make sure that the documents and the planning process lead the teachers through the thinking I want them to undertake to develop a coherent, cohesive unit that meets the school's pedagogical focuses. There is a step by step process you want them to go through. If you look at Jay McTigue's Understanding By Design approach the planning templates are filled in a particular order and the process takes one through the process.

Now I, personally, am interested in performance - enabling both teachers and students to perform exceptionally. When you look at the performance of people there are four major areas which get in the way of them performing successfully.

They don't know WHAT to do
They don't know HOW to do it.
They don't know WHY they do it?
Or there are OBSTACLES beyond their control
When I look at many school planners ... there is a lot of identifying WHAT to do. Most of the HOW in teacher unit plans are very vague to my "Engineer" oriented brain. The WHY comes from having clear Key Understandings. Obstacles can be addressed via "common misconceptions" or the teacher identifying the common barriers to progress (whether they be understandings or skills or whatever) and identifying strategies to support students to overcome them.

If I am looking at Planning Documents (whether they are house plans, learning plans, game plans for a sport, plans for an organising a conference, etc) I really want to be able to see;

WHAT is the goal and WHAT it will look like when it is all completed (goal skills, understandings)
HOW will we get there (what tools, skills need to be developed, resources, learning strategies, and the explicit steps to get there)
WHY (how it links to past learning and future learning, big picture)
OBSTACLES (what could be some potential obstacles and HOW we will overcome them)
The planning documents should be clear in showing this. When I see this information we can then be clear that the event is going to happen (whether it is a unit, house, conference, bridge, or whatever). That is what plans are for.

For me, planning documents should begin with the end point (the destination) - the WHAT

What are the key understandings (achievement standards) I want the students to gain by the end of the unit? This will link into what they already know and the WHY of the unit.
What skills am I wanting to be developing through this unit (both subject specific skills and core competencies/general capabilities pertinent to this cohort of students)? What thinking do I want them to do?
What content will be the vehicle for this journey?
Knowing all of this ... what could be a culminating event where the students can summatively and authentically demonstrate their understandings and skills to achieve? What does this look like? feel like?

We now get to the HOW

So now knowing the WHAT ... what would be the list of steps I would take to have the students successfully accomplish reaching the end point having developed the skills and grasped the understandings?

What tools will I use when?
What resources will I need when?
What graphic organisers?
What incursions or excursions?
How will I hook them or engage them?
What questions could I formulate to begin and to guide them through the process?
What could be common misconceptions of barriers for these students? How will I support the students to overcome these barriers?
What structures will I use to support the students and myself to facilitate the process?
This outline of my thinking is WHY I would include documents such as a check list, and formative rubric in the planning documentation. This would address part of the how.

When you look at your planning documents you really want to be able to see the whole picture and process.

Do you see this in your school teaching / learning plans?
April 4th, 2012 @ 8:41PM