Our current IB-PYP unit is How We Organize Ourselves, and the central idea is "Humans organize to meet needs." Since the school year began, we've been examining organizational structures like our class library layout, conventions in fiction, routines in our day, conversation protocols, mathematical processes (including order of operations), and more.
I also wanted students to get into a coding mindset, as seen in our Choose Your Own Adventure tour of the U.S. regions. This time, I invited them to create flow charts around some topic of real world organization. As the user/viewer follows the chart with a question, there will be a different path (or result) that depends on his/her response to that question. Creating these requires a thorough understanding of the topic, a good sense of abstract thinking skills, and patience to create a layout that's easy to read.
Student topics ranged from organizing craft supplies to organizing routines before school. One student, who participates in our morning announcements team, gave tips on how to be a broadcast anchor.
Here are some of the drafts:
This was our first attempt at creating flow charts, and there has been a lot of erasure and re-organization. Some comments during the drafting:
"I have to stop here. This could go on forever."
"I'm not sure where to go next."
"Does this make sense?"
"What else should go here?"
I loved that this process inherently required revision. The organizational structure of multiple outcomes is fairly complex, and hard to set up efficiently the first time through. Almost all students included ideas I hadn't considered, and omitted things I would have included. I like the messy nature of that - even in a fairly straightforward "how-to" process, there are many different approaches, priorities, and considerations.
Here is one example of a student-created flow chart about growth mindset
(the whole thing was really long - almost taller than the author):
Great thinking about this important topic, right?
We have more work to do to examine our if/then paths and outcomes. Do those choices really lead us to the same place, the way they seem to on our diagrams? Do some different paths re-connect farther down in the process?
If fifth graders can begin to look at steps and reasonably predict a chain of outcomes and consequences, that's huge. If they can communicate realistic variables within decision-making around a topic, that's great. If they can create work and revise it to increase the precision of the thinking and quality of the presentation, those are skills that will translate to many other contexts.
I've had the privilege of working with hundreds of students and families in IA, CT, NC, MO, TX, and Canada.