Too often, students don’t see the value in what they’re learning–there can be a disconnect between the meaning we want the students to walk away with and the meaning these incredible individuals make based on their own unique views and experiences. As students begin to take more control of their learning, it becomes impossible for us to design each student’s final assessment and absolutely vital for students to determine why their learning experience is important, not just to them but to their community, both local and global.
We call this final step of the Inquiry Learning Plan (ILP) the “So What?” and it serves as a way for students to apply knowledge and content and reflect back on the unit or class. You can see in the questions below that they’re really looking at the bigger picture of the unit–what is the essential lesson they’ve learned and how do they want to share it?
In terms of completing the “So What?”, there are really two separate sections: the rationale and the artifact. The rationale outlines the plan for their artifact, drawing on their prior reflections to explain what was learned and what needs to be shared, as well as how and with whom.
We start talking about the “So What?” when we introduce reflections for the first time, since students should begin thinking about the deeper meanings and bigger implications of their essential questions. We’re really asking them to think about why any of this matters–not only to them and their classmates but to their school, community, and beyond. For example, students have submitted letters about losing freedom to newspapers and created tutorials to help their peers survive high school.
What they came up with might not always relate to their EQs–it might be that their grandest take away has to do with a standard. One of my sophomores this fall felt that his biggest accomplishment in a unit was finally understanding how to incorporate and analyse a quote in his writing. For him, this was huge, and he wished he could go back to his middle school self and explain what to do, in simpler terms that he finally understood. For his project, he created a presentation on how to break down a quote and shared it with his middle school English teacher, so that she could use it as a resource with her students.
Over the last three years of implementing the ILP, we’ve found this section to be the most challenging–for the students and for us. Sometimes, the brilliant idea they’ve developed falls flat or we don’t have the resources to support them. Sometimes we run out of time so students only have the opportunity to complete the rationale, rather than the actual piece. As a result, my Brit Lit class this year will be completing a course “So What?”, looking at the overall themes of British Literature, instead of multiple end-of-unit artifacts. Hopefully, we will have some awesome examples to share with you at the end of the year!