I have a quadruple whammy for you today. A stimulus which can be used for a world of inquiries, two suggested lesson plans to go with it and a blank Quests and Questions template for you to use for your own P4C, Thinking Moves or just normal planning.
The stimulus is a story about an old olive tree and a tiny olive. There are many different questions it could lead onto. This week, though, my mind is turned to two main things, hence my two plans.
The first is the concept of 'old' and 'young'. This weekend it is our 'On Parade' weekend in the town I live in and the town will host many celebrations, bands and events, organised by Armed Forces Veterans and celebrating all things 1940s. The parade will be led by a D Day veteran but also in the parade will be people from the armed forces, cadets and organisations old and young. Which led me to wonder... what is old? My grandmother is 93 but says that in her head she is still 21. Is she old? Which part matters? The outside or the inside? What about a house built in the 1920s? Is it old? In comparison to what? Can we say, in isolation, that anything is old or is it all comparative? What about the rain, or sand, or the tide? Are they old or young? So that is the basis of the first lesson plan.
The other thing which has dominated my thoughts this half term is, of course, transitions. I have one child moving to a new school, 18 moving onto Reception Class, 8 going from being the youngest in my class to being the oldest and 31 children preparing to start in my class in September. So with a plethora of end of year crafts and parties, induction sessions, stay and plays, parent meetings, end of year data, reports and home visits I am very much living in the dreaded limbo of 'Transition World' right now.
The second lesson plan is, therefore, not strictly a philosophical one but more of a social and emotional development one. That is what I love about Thinking Moves A-Z though. Sure it is an amazing metacognition tool for P4C but it is actually far more transferable and universal than that and can be used for anything you want to teach (or learn. Seriously - I am going to use it as a tool this summer holiday myself to try to help me take a broad minded approach to learning Spanish).
So the second plan I offer you today is one focused on transitions and can be used for any transition from a move to Reception Class all the way up to the move to High School.
Finally I have included a Quests and Questions template for your own use. I hope it is some help.
This week my mind has been largely taken up with maths mastery. I say mostly but it has also been a week of induction sessions for my September new starters, the usual chaos of Early Years, two incidents of interrupted water fights in the pre-school bathroom, several toilet incidents, a lot of rain leading to lots of giddy children and juggling three of my own children at home. Back to the maths though.
I am currently part of a maths hub project looking at finding mathematics approaches that are accessible to all, with a particular focus on being beneficial to children with special educational needs and children who are gifted and talented.
As I am sure most of you will know it is sometimes difficult to differentiate lessons so that all children are able to both access and progress. In addition most schools and settings are now making (or made some time ago) a much needed move towards whole class teaching, as opposed to taking children out of class during input sessions for intervention and as a result and depriving them of the opportunity to access the same learning as the rest of the class. It is always a bit tricky to be able to plan something which ticks all of the boxes though. To be accessible but stretching in equal amounts for the middle ability learners, the gifted and talented, the children with additional needs and everyone in between.
Over the last year we have had a heavy focus in class on the benefits of conversation and sustained shared thinking instead of information heavy inputs and focused activities. This has fit in beautifully with our P4C sessions and we are now doing a lot of our Development Matters learning via P4C enquiries. More recently Thinking Moves has given me an even better framework for creating these sessions and maths is a prime example of how a simple conversational session can create a complex understanding of a concept and still be accessible to every learner at their own personal level of understanding.
As part of my input into the maths hub project I created a quick guide to some ways in which Thinking Moves A-Z can be used to explore mathematical thinking in the Early Years. You can get a copy of that here on the DialogueWorks website.
You will also be amazed to see quite how many Thinking Moves come out of just one enquiry. Here is a lesson plan which is a perfect example. This one asks the big question ... "What is 4?"
Miss Magical Mess is a pre-school teacher and P4C Level 2B facilitator. After a shaky start as a P4C facilitator (P4C with 3 year olds... are you kidding?) Miss Magical Mess created her own approach to P4C and enquiry model and is now a big fan.