Friday, May 29, 2015

Designing Learning: Details and the Big Ideas Matter

Both details and the big ideas are important when it comes to the work we do.

The big ideas matters because we want the intent and vision of our work to be well positioned in order to serve students well.

The details matter too because we want the work that we do to manifest itself in daily, high-quality, targeted service to children.

Neither the big ideas or the details can outshine the other--the two have to work in tandem to provide a substantial, successful teaching/learning program for children.

Also, neither the details or the big idea should refuse the other. For example, a great big idea should not be dismissed because of a few details. Also, a few details should not be dismissed because they don't exactly fit the big idea. When we assess programs we have to look at programs as organisms that take on life, and as organisms we know that programs will develop over time with change and revision to meet students' needs/interests, latest research, current events, and the invention/awareness of new tools/processes.

So, as we design and share learning, we have to be cognizant of both the big ideas and the details. Questions like these can help to foster a good assessment:
  • What is the big idea and why does it matter?
  • How do the details support the big idea?
  • Where is there room for revision and enrichment, and what research, experience, or facts support those changes?
  • What are our hopes for the big idea, and what are our fears?
  • How can we support the hopes?
  • How can we steer clear of the fears?
  • When and how will we determine success related to this learning design?  What check-in points will we create to do that analysis and who will be included?
Designing learning well is a big responsibility as the success of our students depends on it. We want to be thorough in our work, but we also don't want to fear risk and new ideas. If stay mired in old ways, we won't be able to grow and develop our programs for the changing world we live in.  Good programs depend on tried-and-true tradition as well as creativity and innovation. It's the process and application that matter when it comes to doing this work well.