COLLABORATIVE PLANNING
James A Beane, Curriculum Integration.
New York: Teachers College Press, 1997
pages 51 & 52

Many teachers... engage young people in a collaborative planning process that involves two questions: "What questions or concerns do you have about yourself?" and "What questions or concerns do you have about the world?" After students write their questions individually, small groups are formed to find questions that are shared by individuals within the group, such as the following:

Self Questions

How long will I live?
What will I look like when I am older?
Do other people think I am the way I think I am?
What job will I have?
What would I do if I met an extraterrestrial?
Will I ever go to outer space?
Why do I fight with my brother and sister?
Should I get a tattoo?
Will I be poor and homeless?
Will my family still be there when I am older?
Will my parents accept me as an adult?
Where will I live when I am older?
Will I get married and have children?
Why do I act the way I do?
Why do I have to go to school?
Will I have the same friends when I am older?
Why do I look the way I do?
Will I go to college?
Will I be like my parents?

World Questions

Will we ever live in outer space?
What will happen to the earth in the future?
Why are there so many crimes?
Why do people hate each other?
Will racism ever end?
Will there ever be a president who is not a white man?
Are there other planets than the ones we know about?
Who owns outer space?
Will the United States ever be out of debt?
Will cures be found for cancer and AIDS?
Where does garbage go?
Who will win the next election?
Why are schools the way they are?
Will the rain forests be saved?
Why is there so much prejudice?
What is the purpose of time?
How do you know when something is real?
Will drug dealing stop?
What will people evolve to look like?
Will hoverboards replace skateboards?
Is time travel possible?
How many kinds of species are there?
Why are there so many poor people?

The group then tries to identify organizing centers or themes that use both self and world questions, such as the following sample themes:

Jobs, Money, Careers
Living in the Future
Environmental Problems
Conflict and Violence
Mysteries, Beliefs, Illusions, Superstitions
"ISMS" and Prejudice
Government and Politics
Drugs, Diseases, Health
Cultures
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous...and Not!
Outer Space

Once the whole group has reached consensus on a list of themes, a vote is held to see which one will be undertaken first. ...Relevant questions for any given theme are then selected from all the small-group lists, and the group brainstorms ideas about possible activities they may do to seek answers to their questions. Once a final plan is made, the unit gets underway. As each unit is completed, the group chooses its next theme from the original list, reviews the questions they used to create it, and makes a plan for the new unit.
 

 Click here to print this page.