Last month, I put this question out there on Twitter and Facebook:
If you had to lose one, which prompt of depth and complexity would you get rid of?
It wasn’t even close. Trends is clearly the least-appreciated of the prompts.
This has been my experience in real life as well. Most teachers I’ve talked to tell me: “I don’t even know what that one does!” Plus, I bet if you ask your students, they’ll struggle to explain Trends as well.
Now, I’d love to wisely explain how wonderful Trends really is, but… I’m in total agreement. What the heck is Trends there for?
The (very) few people who have defended Trends to me always draw examples from social studies. What Trends led to The Renaissance, what Trends existed in the 1960s, how have Trends in eating habits changed, etc.
It’s true. Trends are useful in that context, but that context is pretty limited. The other Depth and Complexity prompts are so powerful because they work so well in all content areas.
Trends simply isn’t as widely applicable as the other tools. It’s great for certain topics, but not most topics. When we try to use Trends in other content areas, it duplicates another prompt…
Lil’ Change Over Time
Trends is just a special case of Change Over Time – a zoomed in version. Any Trend is really something changing over a short period of time. So why add an 11th thinking tool when Change Over Time covers such similar ground (and more)?
Some people defend Trends, saying that it incorporates “factors” that cause the Trend. But that’s the job of the Content Imperative “Contribution”. If you want to discuss causes or factors, just ask, “What Contributes to this Change Over Time?”
Is there something that Trends covers, but Change Over Time just can’t (and no social studies examples, please)?
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Is It Useful?
Maybe you love Trends. That’s fine.
But the Depth and Complexity tools should be student tools. Your kids should be the ones wielding them. Do they have a clear understanding of this Prompt? Do they understand how it is significantly different from Change Over Time? Or is it something they pretend to understand?
Fewer Is Better
This is important to me because I think that 11 of something is too many if we can cover the same ideas with 10. And if we could cover the same ground in 8, that would be even better (but that’s another post!). And don’t even get me started on those “new” prompts of depth and complexity 😝.
Thoughts? Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from some Trend Defenders™.