If you’re introducing the depth and complexity thinking tools for the first time to your students, I’d recommend carefully considering your scope and sequence.
- Scope: how much am I going to tackle at this time?
- Sequence: what’s the best order in which to tackle it?
The school I taught at began introducing the prompts of depth and complexity in kindergarten with just a handful (maybe Big Idea, Details, Language, and Unanswered Questions). By second grade all the prompts were in play. Then, teachers of older students began combining the prompts or integrating the content imperatives.
But not everyone is in a school like this. If you’re taking on depth and complexity all by yourself, how do you introduce depth and complexity all at once without exploding your kids’ brains?
Pair Them Up
Personally, I like the following sequence. It pairs up prompts that (in my opinion) add to each other. Spend a week or so on each group so that students get a chance to really understand their meanings. No sense in rushing.
- Big Idea and Details: I introduce these first since they’re the easies to grasp and are clearly opposite. Because they’re opposites, they work well as a pair. Details give us Big Ideas.
- Rules and Patterns: These can seem similar so introducing them together allows you to highlight their differences. Rules represent things that must be followed or there’s a consequence (hierarchies, laws, social norms) and Patterns represent things that often repeat, but don’t have to repeat.
- Ethics, Multiple Perspectives, and Change Over Time: I think Ethics and Multiple Perspectives go hand-in-hand. How do different folks see the same problem? But we can also use Change Over Time to supplement Ethics. How has a problem changed? I’d also emphasize that we can combine these prompts with Rules, Patterns, Big Ideas, and Details as well.
- Language of the Discipline and Across The Discipline: we can talk about the word “discipline” here.
- Unanswered Questions was my most under-utilized prompt, so I might introduce it all by itself to give it the spotlight. Often I just had students “make a list of things you don’t know.” But does that really stretch their thinking? We have to do something with their unanswered questions.
And, I don’t know, throw Trends in wherever you want 😝 I think it’s superfluous.
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