Fostering the Big Picture








Aren’t these the qualities of successful leaders, visionaries, entrepreneurs, writers, and all those who have done something different than those who came before them?  Aren’t these the qualities that we want to foster in our children through education?

Grant Wiggins, in his Understanding By Design approach, talks about starting with the end in mind when planning lessons.  What are the essential questions and enduring understandings that we want the students to know and come away with?

Visionaries do this too – they see the big picture and then work backwards to make their vision come true; with persistence, collaboration, revision, determination and confidence.

So, in an educational day that is filled with segments of content instruction, how do we then foster seeing the big picture with children.  How do we help them understand that working on engaging leads in Writer’s Workshop will translate to be able to share opinions, sell an idea, publicly debate and so much more?  How do we help them understand that learning math facts about addition and subtraction will ultimately lead to their financial literacy and ability to navigate economics as it relates to their own lives?  We have to look for ways to not only integrate content with meaningful lessons but to also find a way to foster the big picture – not just be saying, “this will make you financially literate,” but by allowing for opportunities for children to see the significance, try it out and make those connections.  The more relevant and applicable the content, the more motivated and creative the students will be.

Our challenge then, is how to do that. In an era of more and more standards, more formalized curriculum direction and less time to teach (factor in lunch/recess, emergency drills, announcements, assemblies, school spirit days, etc.), we must find a way to ensure that our teaching allows for us to start with the end in mind and that it fosters opportunities for students to see the big picture.  Without that, I’m not sure that all of our isolated content instruction will matter as much.


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