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Above Image: A to-do list with various types of tomatoes on it

Definition: The skill of planning involves identifying methods, materials and a sequence of events to reach goals, complete projects or accomplish tasks.

Planning is important because…

  • it is a fundamental skill involved in initiating and conducting successful inquiries
  • it helps students develop organizational skills through defining and delineating the steps and resources involved in a process
  • it is interconnected with skills such as managing time, following instructions, and documenting

Teaching and Learning Planning:



Participate in inquiries planned by educators

See the 5Ws and an H Exemplar

Model the process of creating an inquiry plan and have students follow a pre-established plan.

Determine the purpose of the inquiry (the WHY)

Assist students with identifying the inquiry question for investigation or research.

See: Asking a Testable Question in the Science Processes section

Identify the key steps or tasks involved in an inquiry, including the sequence of the steps or tasks (the HOW)

Assist students with identifying important tasks that must occur in order for an inquiry to be successful as well as assist students with determining the order in which steps or stages will occur using ordinal language (e.g., first we will…., then we will….finally we will…., etc.).

See: 5Ws and an H Inquiry Planning Learning Strategy, Planning Steps Organizer Learning Strategy, as well as Setting up a Fair Test in the Science Processes section

Determine how observations and data will be recorded (the HOW)

Support students in determining the most appropriate method for collecting and recording data BEFORE embarking on an inquiry.

See: Daily Observation Chart, K-W-L and Sequence Organizer Learning Strategies in the Recording Skills Section

Identify the materials, techniques and location that will be required to undertake an inquiry (e.g., scientific equipment, internet resources, access to experts, etc.) (the WHAT and WHERE)

Assist students with identifying and sourcing materials and expertise required for inquiries (e.g., Will the educator or students provide soil for terrariums? Would it be better to use peat pots or pots of soil? Etc.).

Identify who will be responsible for which tasks during an inquiry (the WHO)

Assist students with understanding the importance of assigning and following through with the tasks of an inquiry.

See: 5Ws and an H Inquiry Planning Learning Strategy

Estimate how much time it will take to complete a given inquiry and set up a schedule (the WHEN)

Assist students with estimating the timing of inquiries (e.g., how many weeks will it take for tomato plants to grow fruit? How long will each step take? Hours? Days? Weeks?). Time can vary for different inquiries. Also keep in mind that the planning process itself will take time.

Use tools such as graphic organizers and planners for capturing and documenting inquiry plans

Encourage students to document plans using planning tools such as the 5Ws and an H Inquiry Planning tool and the Planning Steps Organizer.

Assess potential safety risks and potential ethical issues associated with proposed inquiry plans

Review proposed inquiry methods with students, and suggest alternatives if necessary. This is particularly important when students plan to do inquiries which involve living things such as plants, animals and other people.