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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).



Theme: How the World Works

Central Idea: We discover and investigate the natural world around us.

PK students chose a natural world of interest (i.e. backyard, zoo, pond) and contributed to a group mural to share their learning.



Theme: Sharing the Planet

Central Idea: Humans, animals and the environment exist in an interdependent relationship.

At the end of the school year, each fourth grade student chooses an action project that help either humans, animals and/or the environment. For 2 weeks, students work to make a difference for their action project. In this examples, students sewed pillowcase dresses, raised money to purchase shorts, raised awareness and made cards for the M House in Haiti.  



Theme: How We Express Ourselves

Central Idea: Personal perspectives and cultural background allow freedom for people to communicate and express themselves.

After inquiring about perspectives and culture, third grade students created an expression of themselves through art that reflected their own culture.



Theme: Where we are in Place and Time

Central Idea: Maps are a system that help people locate and navigate through life.

Second grade students multiple aspects of maps/mapping. (Left) Students from Mrs. Robertson’s class used their knowledge of maps to create a Mindcraft map. (Right) Students worked in small groups to pick an area of interest and create a map that reflects their learning.



The themes and central ideas reflect all subject areas. First through fourth grade students participated in an integrated performance which showcased their learning from Art, Music and PE in relation to one of the transdisciplinary themes.