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Develop Your Learning Journey

Mapping the learning journey through a logical sequence of experience and reflections will help develop a scope and sequence for scaffolding for meaningful curriculum implementation, intentional reflection for growth, and inclusive practices so all students are successful. 

This Gets You
to consider the guiding questions or experiences for students along the learning journey and to intentionally design reflection opportunities all the way along. This will also illuminate the areas of the broader design that will need specific skill or knowledge scaffolding in order to continue successfully. For example you may need to explicitly teach letter writing, or capitalization before authoring letters to community partners. 

Keep in Mind
This process can certainly be used on your own, in a binder, and for your eyes only. But where it really shines is when it is out in the open for your students and colleagues to see. Making this journey visible helps make the whole journey reflect-able. Consider sharing this on a bulletin board, or poster. 

Map the Learning Journey

Take a walk through the map components to see how each is used. While they can be put together in any sequence, the order we’ve placed these in is how we most frequently think through our own designs.

1. Title

A powerful experience deserves a strong title. Whether you’re designing a single lesson or an entire unit, give your design a memorable name.

2. Question

An essential question (or questions) serves as a focus for the design. A good question invites exploration toward many possible answers or outcomes. While these can be phrased in many different ways we find “How might we [action or challenge] for [audience or purpose]?” can be a powerful way to phrase a driving question. Check out Andrew Miller’s blog on crafting essential questions for more information.

3. Partners

These are people and organizations who are outside your classroom who might bring assistance, authenticity, or expertise to the experience: parents, companies, institutions, colleagues, foundations, neighbors, friends, etc.

4. Experiences

Along this lane we plot the essential activities that students will engage in as they move through the learning. What might students make, create, and do in order to meet the objectives for the learning and to answer the essential question?  Are reading, writing, and listening balanced with engaged conversation, hands-on experiences, and collaborative inquiry?  How will the learning be scaffolded so that when students demonstrate what they’ve learned and created summatively, they’ve had the opportunity to build their skills and understanding?

5. Reflections

“We do not learn from experience… We learn from reflecting on experience.” — John Dewey

This lane “balances the equation” plotted in the Experiences lane. On this line activities are plotted that answer some of these questions:

  • How might students reflect on their experiences and consolidate new understanding with prior knowledge?
  • How might they relate what they’ve learned to others?
  • How might they revise or iterate on the things they are making and creating?


6. Timeline

While the watermarked words on the template serve as a useful list for a variety of actions and activities, this space is actually meant for plotting a timeline for the learning journey. Whether these are the times of day during a single lesson or the times of year during a unit or course, time runs from left to right on the framework.


Mapping the Learning Journey

A template like the one featured here is useful for mapping a learning journey. So why the “waves” look? We often think of learning as a journey, and unlike “traditional” lesson planning, the focus on this learning design format is on making the plans themselves visual. It’s meant to be spread out on a white board or chart paper. We like using sticky notes or dry erase marker to make our plans. This is partially so that they can be edited and altered easily, but it’s also so that the plans can be displayed and seen.

Visual planning invites conversation. Like a work of unfinished art, it asks you to stand back and look at the whole journey as well as get up close and examine the pieces. We think that the most powerful thing you could do with any lesson plan is to share it with a colleague and ask them to give you their thoughts on what you’ve come up with so far. This template can certainly be used on your own, in a binder, and for your eyes only. But where it really shines is when it is out in the open for your students and colleagues to see.

Download a pdf version of the Learning Design Process template. Also available en Français. Consider these questions when designing your own template.