Program of Inquiry
Throughout the school year, WE teachers collaborate weekly to reflect, refine grade level units and develop learning experiences. Our site’s Program of Inquiry (POI) is one outcome of this sustained, weekly collaboration.The POI is an overview of each grade level's units of inquiry. The JPS Curricula Standards are incorporated within each unit thus the POI is vertically and horizontally aligned to ensure continued depth and complexity.
Each grade level unit falls within one of six transdisciplinary themes. The themes help us organize our curriculum in a way that students revisit “big ideas” year after year. The six transdisciplinary themes are:
★ Who We Are: An inquiry into the nature of self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; right and responsibilities; what it means to be human.
★ Where We Are in Place and Time: An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.
★ How We Express Ourselves: An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.
★ How We Organize Ourselves: An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.
★ How the World Works: An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.
★ Sharing the Planet: An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.
In order to deepen student learning, a new central idea is explored within each unit. A central idea is an enduring understanding that transfers across time and cultures. Students have an opportunity to experience learning through inquiry, making real-world connections, asking questions, researching, taking action, and reflecting. It is exciting to see students developing the ability and excitement to share their learning and understanding in diverse ways (examples below).
2nd grade Central Idea: Natural forces can alter environments.
Learning Experience: In order to deepen their understanding of erosion, 2nd grade students visited a construction site (Jenks West Intermediate). Jeff Beyer, JPS Executive Director of Construction and Community Services, and Gene Phillips, Wallace Engineering, shared ways that the construction impacts the environment.
Kindergarten Central Idea: The process of change impacts the world.
Learning Experience: After learning about how inventions change the world, Kindergarten students worked individually, in pairs or in small groups to create an invention using simple materials.
4th grade Exhibition: Exhibition is for 4th grade students to apply the attitudes, skills and knowledge they have gained during their journey at West Elementary. Students engage in a collaborative inquiry that involves them in identifying, investigating, and offering solutions to real-life issues.