How We Got There
What was a challenge when reviewing our POI (Program of Inquiry) was the opportunities within the year where Math was the star. So I felt at least I could run a Math unit alongside our main UOI, where the basis would be an idea I found about Inquiry Teapots by Craig Dwyer (@dwyerteacher). You can also check out what inspired Craig at Geometric Teapot Packages. So there we embarked on our first Teapot Inquiry!
During post-unit reflection on our main UOI and my Math UOI, it did not take long for an A-HA! moment. I realized that Math was a excellent fit within this UOI and should be the main act. Maybe our central idea was truly supportive of transdisciplinary learning as it could be applied to Visual Art or Math and possibly other areas. I enjoyed reading a straight forward explanation on Transdisciplinary Learning from Greenwich Public Schools.
This year the UOI was a thrill. To live inside Math everyday where students are learning about it and applying it together to solve problems felt like we had successfully achieved a planner and UOI that was true to the transdisciplinary theme and didn't compromise on Math which is often stand-alone.
What It Looks Like
The heart of this UOI is an inquiry into the structure and function of organizations and societal decision-making. This unit focusses on Thinking, Self-Management and Social Skills by learning how to effectively work towards a goal within a group by organising ourselves to solve mathematical problems involving Measurement and Shape and Space. It requires students to develop their Interactions within Physical, Personal and Social Education.
Lines of Inquiry:
How We Express Ourselves
An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.
Attitudes and skills help organisations to solve problems and achieve their goals.
FUNCTION: How does it work?
CAUSATION: Why is it like it is?
REFLECTION: How do we know?
1. What makes an organisation work (Function)
2. How attitudes and skills help us solve problems (Causation)
3. Steps to achieve goals (Reflection)
How Does It Work
Another key factor was having students cycle through a problem-solving inquiry process as many times as possible within the UOI. This meant that students would be able to reflect on their skills, concepts, understandings and knowledge while giving them the opportunity to take action by applying what they have learned within the next inquiry cycle. It also meant that differentiation was imbedded as each "problem-solving organisation" or small group would be able to work at their own learning pace and level of understanding.
It was important for each student to select their group based on what the task or "goal" and the skills that he or she were bringing to the table as well as considering the skills that he or she needed from others. Rather than relying on random groupings or on a friendship basis. This meant that both students and myself had to be consistently aware of their skills state-of-play, through formative assessment, reflection and discussion. It also meant that before diving into a task, an extended moment of pause was needed to consider and apply thinking skills to ascertain what the goal actually was. This would ensure students practice good habits of thinking and avoid assumptions or racing ahead unaware of where they need to go (which was also up to themselves). This experience reaffirmed my love for open-ended Mathematics - its so rich and truly enjoyable!
In addition to the group tasks, I also ran individual Math Journals using the same process to allow for alone-time with Math and mathematical thinking.
Resources To Make It Happen
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