“The Plan,” as Hilary Jo Seitz calls it, is a simple four-step, transdisciplinary integrated process of investigation, circular in nature and often evolving or spinning off into new investigations. (See diagram at right.)
The Plan consists of the following:
1. Sparks (provocations)—Identify emerging ideas, look at children’s interests, hold conversations,
and provide experiences. Teachers should document the possibilities.
2. Conversations—Have conversations with interested participants (teachers, children, and parents), ask questions, document conversations through video recordings, tape
recordings, teacher/parent dictation, or other ways. Ask “What do we already know? What do we qonder about? How can we learn more? What is the plan?”
3. Opportunities and experiences—Provide opportunities and experiences
in both the classroom and the community for further investigation. Document those experiences.
4. More questions and more theories—Think further about the process. Document questions and theories. In other words, teachers, children,
and parents identify something of interest; we discuss what we know about it or what we want to know about it; we experience it or have opportunities to learn about the idea; and then we discuss what we did and either ask more questions
or make new theories. We document our understandings throughout the whole process.
The initial spark can come from anywhere or anything. For example, we might overhear children talking about the lawnmower at the park. The class,
or sometimes a smaller group of children, then sits down and devises a plan with the help of interested adults.
Sparks can be things, phenomena, conversations, books, stories—anything that provokes deeper thought. The sparks are what
trigger a child (and adult) to want to know more, to investigate further. These sparks can occur at any time. They can be as simple as finding a pebble in one’s shoe, grabbing an idea or story line from a book, or finding a nut on
the playground. Young children have these sparks of interest all day long.