Real Life Learning: Curriculum Integration Through Inquiry (Part 3)

Teach smarter not harder. That's what they say, right?  What exactly does that mean?  To me, it's the act of not piling on assignments and worksheets that later you have to mark and it doesn't move learning forward anyways! I think that "teach smarter not harder" is the smooth integration of subjects that relate and that help students build strong connections in their learning rather than isolating subjects and "trying to get it all done".  Planning for this kind of learning takes time to see the big picture but once you've done it a time or two, it makes life so much easier!  Isn't that what you want so that you can spend more time interacting with your students and getting to know all about their learning styles and interests? Let's talk about Inquiry Learning Through Project Based Learning.

I've designed a new resource that will help teachers like you to plan for project based learning without using a load of paper which isn't good for the environment or the school budget.  We all have different classrooms, different teaching styles,  different access to technology, different (yet similar) curriculum etc.  So, I wanted to design a product that would help as many teachers as possible begin on their journey towards "teach smarter not harder" where students can "learn deep not weep"! By making my introduction to inquiry and project based learning open ended, you can use it in a way that suits you best. Wonder, Design and Make is a great introduction to learning by design.

In this pack I have included a list of my suggestions for the best children's literature for introducing project based learning and building a designer mindset.

There are inspirational real images of things designed to inspire students to wonder.  There are ideas for:

Wonder Days (inquiry)
Design Days (plan)
Maker Days (implement or build)

There are opportunities for feedback and suggestions from others which is an important aspect.

To get you started, I have included a mini whole class project.  There is a 2 page printable for students to use as a thinking page to design their project and receive feedback and well as a few printable for you to use to create a bulletin board.  This is a resource of ideas and strategies that you can use over and over again and build with your students as they increase in their confidence and competence.  This set is perfect for 3-5th grade although 2nd graders may be able to use this in the middle to end of the year.

I have also included a list of videos to induce wonder and show students how popular and famous people have failed but they kept trying.

I don't like the word failed.  While school was a positive experience for me, I certainly have "failed" at other things I have attempted in my life.  It has such negative connotations.  So, I tried to find a better word or set of words.

Failed:  According to Merriam Webster, a couple of the definitions are:  to weaken, to fall short, left undone.

Undone implies giving up.

To Weaken implies lack of perseverance.

While falling short could possibly mean a gallant attempt but not quite there yet.  I like that one best. It's like Carol Dweck's famous word and talk - The Power of YET.

So with this new set on project based learning, students will lead the learning. As teachers, we can teach them to wonder, to plan, to design and most importantly, to persevere.

As I created this set, a poem came to my mind so I wrote it down and also included it in the set but it's for all you reading this blog to ponder. :)

You can incorporate your own State/Province based curriculum into this set easily.  You will have to go through your curriculum and begin with identifying common themes throughout the subject areas.  This is where the inquiry questions will begin.  You'll need to know what you want your students to know at the end of unit (which generally, in the inquiry mode, never "ends". Once you find a common thread, building the questions with your students' curiosity will lead them into researching the facts

One thing I do recommend though is to start where your students are at by exploring their strengths and interests.  Their opinions on work ethic are also important so that you as their teacher know where to add guidance or perhaps a little nudge if things aren't going as well as they had planned.

I created this Student Interest Inventory for you to use.  It can be used with this set or as a stand alone for the back to school and during a few different periods throughout the year so that you can see change over time. Click here to download this FREE resource.

(Clip by Sara Pecorino)

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