Breaking down the big ideas (expectations) into smaller components
I like to try and vary up the ways in which I making learning outcomes explicit at the start of each unit. In my opinion, it doesn't have to happen on the very first class of a unit. We can allow some time to have important discussions related to the big ideas of a unit before moving into what it is that the students need to be specifically working on. The key is that we ask the right questions and always record the students ideas and thoughts as we go.
In the first couple of weeks of my current movement composition unit, my students and I had a number of important discussions related to the big ideas regarding how we can be successful in this unit. I took the time to record their thoughts, making these ideas visual by creating posters. You can see an example below.
Through purposely planned questioning, I challenged the students to be clear and concise about what makes for success in movement composition. Whenever I take this approach, I can say with full certainty that the students are able to identify what the actual learning outcomes are in a unit. If they don't nail one of the big ideas, my questioning pushes them to think about other areas of movement composition which are important to consider. I ask them to describe 'observable' features of success.
Through our discussions this week, my grade 4/5 students were able to identify a number of criteria that are important for success in movement composition.
Teamwork, Planning, Body Control, Safety, Routines Looking Good, and the Importance of Practice
Identifying these outcomes was still not enough as we needed to breakdown considerations for success in these areas. As the students worked on partner balances, we took time every now and then to discuss what good teamwork looks like, why safety is important, how routines look good etc. I was able to use examples from their own routines to model important features of success such a the importance of good flow and rhythm. I didn't expect them to be able to breakdown these learning outcomes completely on their own, but was there the entire time to help guide them through this process.
Inquiry in Action
I believe that the questions that we ask and the learning environment that we set in our classes has great impact on whether or not our students can genuinely put inquiry into action. Allowing them ample opportunity to tune into the important learning outcomes can trigger the inquiry process and is worth a try if you haven't done so. You'll be surprised with the great ideas that they can come up with on their own. Check out our grade 4/5 student learning outcomes in movement composition. Thanks for reading and happy teaching!