I recently came across this ‘new’ thinking routine which I think could be used across all areas of primary to stimulate inquiry. I say new, but actually it is only new to me. It is from the Harvard Zero Maker Centred Classroom course and I was introduced to it through GeekyTeachers. Now most of you are probably thinking that I would be the author on a website called GeekyTeachers, but alas, another quick-witted teacher had already taken the domain name. Now the new thinking routine is called Parts, Purposes and Complexities and it can be used to stimulate inquiry into objects, forms of writing, art works, living things, systems, the opportunities are endless. The thinking routing can be conducted during one class or woven through a program of inquiry. The steps are relatively simple which makes it adaptable to all year groups.

Parts: What are its parts? Remember all of the parts that are tiny, sometimes hidden or not noticed. Are the students able to manipulate the parts for further inspection?

Purposes: What are its purposes? What are the purposes of each of the parts?

Complexities: How are the parts and/or purposes complicated? Perhaps the relationship between the two is complicated? Have any questions been raised? Are all of the parts required? Could the parts be changed or substituted for improvements? What would happen if a part was removed? Could it be used for an alternate purpose? Is the purpose still relevant? Has it been superseded? Could it be redesigned?

I am yet to try this routine, but I am excited to do so. To see examples of Parts, Purposes and Complexities in action head over to GeekyTeachers. In the mean time, instead of keeping your students busy with Christmas crosswords until the end of term, why don’t you spend the final days together inquiring into the Parts, Purposes and Complexities of Christmas? Send me some (non-identifiable) photographs of your students doing this! I can’t wait to see where this thinking routine takes them.



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