5 Steps for Planning the Big Ideas in Education – with Pokemon Go

Big Ideas in Education
Big Ideas in Education

Always start with the Big Ideas in education when you plan your days, weeks, units, and years. 

Avoid starting with Pokemon Go.

When you start with the technology, you risk gaps in learning – lest your practice become about the tool and not the curriculum for student achievement.

Does this mean not to use Technologies like PokemonGo ? Absolutely not. 

In fact, there many new resources and ideas being shared for using Pokemon Go with our students. (By the way, if you are interested, here is a link to ones that I have curated so far:

Curated Pokemon Resourceshttps://flipboard.com/cover/@deborahmccallum/pokemon-go-8vdrlbhmy)
We know you have wonderful ideas for integrating Pokemon Go into your classrooms and learning environments. And you should have a curriculum that is flexible enough to follow student needs, interests and inquiries.

Planning lessons and units is hard work. There are a plethora of variables that educators need to keep in mind when planning. 

It can feel very overwhelming when we are met with new fad or trend that we feel like we need to integrate. 

We shouldn’t feel this way, and we don’t have to, because we always come back to the Big Ideas. Within the Big Ideas we remain flexible, and attuned with our students.

In other words, we are not planning for Pokemon Go – we are planning for the Big Ideas and our students. Our planning can include Pokemon Go, but only as it connects with the Big Ideas, and the learning needs, inquiries, interests of our students. We are helping students to achieve according to the curriculum. Not the technology. 

The Big Ideas lead to inquiries and problems that need to be solved. But let’s be clear,

Pokemon Go is neither a ‘Big Idea’ for learning, neither is it the ‘Problem’ that we need to solve.

Pokemon Go it is a tool. A resource. And like all tools and resources, there will be pros and cons that impact student learning.

Pokemon Go is definitely a trend. But can we still use it to support the Big Ideas? Absolutely. Particularly if we are always planning with several key steps in mind that I will outline below. 

It can be very useful for student learning for many reasons. It can support the curriculum, it can harness skills and technologies that modern learners need. Technologies absolutely have a place in our schools and with students – provided we are always attending to equity, access and issues of social justice with students.

However, Pokemon Go is not THE curriculum. It is not THE Big Idea. It is not THE inquiry. It is not THE problem that will need to be solved. Nor is it THE expectation or Learning Goal that will need to be met.

Rather, it is just an amazing new tool that can be harnessed to support the Big Ideas, inquiries, learning goals. It is a tool to support the kind of problem solving that is happening in our learning environments. For instance, it can be harnessed to support the Big Ideas, problems and inquiries surrounding mapping skills, visual-spatial literacy, graphing, measurement, vocabulary and much much more.

The following are 5 Basic Steps to help educators keep the Big Ideas in mind

  1. Find the Big Idea that will flexibly guide your learning over the course of a lesson or unit.
  2. Next, cluster all of the specific expectations around this idea from across the curriculum. This does not necessarily have to be planned ahead. When we are knowledgeable about the curriculum and our students, and the different types of technologies that exist, then we can ‘go with the flow’, and see what specific expectations end up being met based on student inquiries and problem solving.
  3. Create and follow new inquiries with the students as they happen.
  4. Identify the problems that need to be solved within the Inquiries. Always start with the problems.
  5. Finally, decide what tech tools will meet that need.

Within each Big Idea, lies a new world of wicked problems and amazing new inquiries that really open up how our students think and reason. When new inquiries take shape, we begin to see the problems that need to be solved. Educators can work to harness the inquiries and harness the problem solving process with students as they relate to the Big Ideas.

Always stick to the Big Ideas first. Find your Big idea, cluster your expectations around it from across the curriculum.

Next, identify the ‘problem’ connected with your Big Idea. Once you know what that is, then you can decide what technology tool to use.

Always keep in mind: Pokemon Go is neither a Big Idea for learning, neither is it the problem that we need to solve. It is a tech tool that can help us solve various problems and connect with the Big Ideas that we have identified for student learning.


Deborah McCallum

c 2016



One response to “5 Steps for Planning the Big Ideas in Education – with Pokemon Go”

  1. This Week in Ontario Edublogs | doug --- off the record Avatar

    […] The Big Ideas in Education (Hint: Pokemon Go is not one of them) […]


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