“Big ideas” are the broad, important understandings that students should retain long after they have forgotten many of the details of what they have studied in the classroom.
Developing a deeper understanding of the big ideas requires students to understand basic concepts, develop inquiry and problem-solving skills, and connect these concepts and skills to the world beyond the classroom.
From the revised science curriculum, Ontario Ministry of Education, 2009
We have a unique opportunity to lead the discussion that is being carried on in many schools, boards, and professional organizations across the country.
The worldview that we live and teach out of reminds us that the world is a “whole”, not a bunch of fragments. Our Christian school tradition tells us that faith is not just something to be practiced on Sunday.
We believe that questions of justice, worship, technology, stewardship, etc. are Essential , not just in our “church lives”, but in our everyday lives as teachers and students, as parents and children, as individuals and community.
This sounds like it’s going to be a lot of work!
This is NOT a matter of redoing your curriculum and lesson plans
This IS a matter of being intentional about pointing students to the big ideas in your course
It will require assigning some different activities, asking some different questions in class and on tests
At the end of a course, a student should be able to identify the 3-5 big ideas that have run though the class
Much of the work has already been done for you
PACS – four themes
Edmonton Christian Schools – 10 “through-lines”
Your own school – mission, vision, and core values
The task of a Christian School teacher is to help reveal God’s fingerprints in all things. Biblical truth states clearly that the world, in every way possible, belongs to God. We must focus on unwrapping and revealing the integral nature of the faith and learning relationship
Curriculum development can be an avenue to reveal to students God in all things. Using a Biblical context of 4 distinct parts can facilitate this unravelling of God’s influence.
Creation: God has created all things
Fall: all things have fallen as a result of sin
Redemption: Christ came to earth to redeem all things
Restoration: in response to Christ’s act we are called to work in partnership with God as all things are restored
Our Mission - The mission of Woodland Christian High School is to equip our students for lives of Christian service.
Our Vision - Woodland Christian High School will be a vibrant Christian community of learning where the love of God is evident and where students will be equipped to serve in our society as followers of Christ.
“ One meaning of “essential” involves important questions that recur throughout one’s life . Such questions are broad in scope and timeless by nature. They are perpetually arguable – What is justice? Is art a matter of taste or principles? How far should we tamper with our own biology and chemistry? Is science compatible with religion?”
“ we soon learn that answers to them are invariably provisional. In other words, we are liable to change our minds in response to reflection and experience concerning such questions as we go through life, and that such changes of mind are not only expected but beneficial. A good education is grounded in such life-long questions”
Grant Wiggins, “What is an Essential Question?”, taken from http:// www.authenticeducation.org/bigideas/article.lasso?artId =53
We should ask enduring questions because they lead to thoughtful, soul searching reflection about great ideas. A great question generates deep thinking, rethinking, discourse, analysis, debate, and reflection. It challenges presuppositions, creates dilemmas, and requires more precise thinking.
Eric Cooke, taken from http://www.authenticeducation.org/bigideas/article.lasso?artid=79
Spend the next 20 minutes searching for examples of “big idea” themes or questions that may be of particular interest or use in one of your courses. Please share these with others in the same subject area.
Write down the question or theme and spend a few minutes thinking about how you might incorporate this into your existing curriculum and lesson plans – we will look at this in part 2