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Resource Library  |  Learning Strategies  |  K to 3, Grades 4 to 6

Planning Steps Organizer

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

What is it?

The Planning Steps Organizer learning strategy is used to plan the steps in a process, such as an inquiry or exploration.

Why use it?

  • To support the development of skills related to planning by depicting the sequence of steps or stages in the progression of an event, investigation, exploration and/or inquiry.
  • To enable students to determine the sequence of steps or tasks that will be undertaken as part of an inquiry.
  • To provide students with an organizational tool that they can use for capturing and documenting inquiry plans.

How do I use it?

  • Before using this strategy, introduce its purpose to the students and provide a structured example to teach and model expected behaviours.
  • Choose an inquiry, investigation, process, procedure, or event that involves multiple sequential steps/ stages.
  • Model how these steps/stages can be represented using images or words to show their progression towards an outcome or goal.
  • Prepare predetermined steps/stages on cards or on the interactive whiteboard in the form of images or words. Have one image or word per card that represents one step/stage.
  • Organize students into small groups and have the students work collaboratively to organize and arrange the images or words into what their group thinks is an appropriate planning sequence.
  • Have students use appropriate vocabulary to describe their planning sequences to other groups or the whole class.
  • Have students use the skill of comparing/contrasting to evaluate their planning sequences with others and rethink if and how they might change the order of the steps/stages.
  • If relevant, have students identify if there is a pattern to their planning sequences.

Tips for Success

  • For beginners to this strategy, use simple sequences that are logical and/or familiar.
  • Prompt students with questions to help them explain their sequences and justify their choices.

Variations

  • Sequence words/images could be put on self-sticking adhesive note and then each student could physically move with his/her note to form the group’s sequence.
  • Place sheets of chart paper around the room, each representing a particular sequence. Randomly place self-sticking adhesive notes, with the events of the sequence, on the chart paper. Assign a group of students to each station and have the students work collaboratively to organize the events into the correct sequence. Afterwards, groups could move from station to station assessing each sequence to determine its accuracy.
  • Instead of providing students with predetermined step/stages, have students generate the steps to achieve a goal, or to define the steps in a procedure/method or process.
  • In planning an inquiry, students could brainstorm steps that will have to occur to conduct an inquiry and use a sequence organizer to plan the most logical order of the inquiry process and/or associated tasks involved.
  • Have students use their planning sequence organizers to make predictions about if and how their planning sequence could continue.

Tools and Templates

Planning Steps Organizer - Seed Investigation pdf doc

Adapted from IdeaPark by Let’s Talk Science.