Tuesday 19 February 2019

Planning for Inclusion

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to sit in on a planning session with grade 4 and 5 teachers who wanted to plan a cross curricular unit on the human body.

The session was led by Janice Moase and Shona Becker (helping teachers in our district) using some of the formats and planning sheets from Shelley Moore.  To be honest, Shelley was supposed to be with us but was sick, so we set out on an adventure to see how we would do without her guidance.  Janice has experience with the planning guides and Shona is an amazing science and math teacher, so we were in good hands.

Planning a Unit Accessible for ALL

The goal in these sessions is to build a unit that is accessible to ALL.  That means choosing your content and curricular competencies goals and then finding the access point by looking at the students in your class - the starting point where EVERY SINGLE STUDENT can succeed.

Everyone begins together.  
There is a lot of power in beginning together.  It involves thinking a bit differently and planning a unit starting with what everyone can do… Planning for ALL.  Then looking at what is slightly more complex that MOST will do.  Then looking at more complexity - what a FEW will do. It means planning for the kids you know - but not planning to keep those kids in any box.  ALL options are open to ALL kids.  Planning this way means you are not planning a unit and then retrofitting for those who need more support and more challenge.  EVERYONE begins together - and while some kids continue to work on the initial goals, others move on to the next layer of complexity.

It is different work - it means looking closely at the curriculum and your kids and then thinking creatively, trying to build an inclusive, interesting, creative, fun, motivating, engaging unit where everyone can participate - all learning the same content and using the same processes (competencies).

The teachers decided to look at inquiry based learning to drive their unit.  They created the following overarching question as their BIG idea:

How can you use language in creative and playful ways 
to show how body systems interact with each other?

The main content and curriculum competency goals:

And here is the ALL, MOST, FEW triangle where it was decided what ALL can do, more complexity for Most, and then even more complexity for FEW.

First Lesson:  the HOOK

We planned all morning, then in the afternoon, Janice and Shona co-taught with the classroom teacher, Kristina. This first lesson was the HOOK for the unit.  As a group, the students watched short video clips of hearts and lungs, diseased and healthy, and were asked to think about and comment on what they 'wondered' and what they 'noticed'.  Following the video provocations and group discussion,   there were six tables of invitations/provocations set up in the classroom.  Students spent five minutes at each station with a short report out to their small group at the end of each station.

1.  Observing a moose heart and bones.  What do you notice?

2.  Explore books to get an idea of what you will be learning about… what did you find?  

3.  Maker:  Build what you know about your digestive system

4.  Time your resting and active heart beat and record; or help someone record theirs.

5.  What systems can you find as you put together these images?  What do you think they are?

6.  Maker:  Build what you know about your bones and muscles

This is the renewed curriculum, that has moved from a standardized approach to a standards based approach.  ALL kids are learners.  There is room for EVERYONE.   

Thanks to teachers at Giant's Head and Janice and Shona for a great planning session, and to Shelley for her guidance over the past few years.

Submitted by Judith King