Flexible Philosophy in 5th Grade

Danica Wolfe, 5th Grade, Oakhurst STEAM Academy

Curriculum Unit (PDF)


Over the course of a school year, elementary students will explore philosophical questions that connect to topics and standards embedded in the 5th grade curricular standards. They will engage in collaborative philosophical inquiry to develop their critical thinking and collaboration skills. Teachers and students who participate in these discussions will
strengthen their ability to build meaning through a community of inquiry. This unit will take texts and topics that are already interwoven into the CMS selected curriculum and NC state standards and provide questions and instructional strategies that foster philosophical discussion and allow teachers the opportunity to understand their students’ thinking rather
than simply communicating what students are “supposed” to be thinking and learning.
Students will use accountable talk strategies and reflective discourse to understand their own thinking about philosophical questions that connect to the EL literacy curriculum. They will develop their writing skills by recording their thinking before, during and after classroom discussions about the given question. They also have the opportunity to engage in
philosophical discussions that relate to the math, science and social studies content they are responsible for understanding in 5th grade. It is the hope of the author of this unit that teachers who read this unit might gain a vision for the value of communities of inquiry as it relates to students’ cognitive and social skills as well as how philosophical discussions can
happen in any grade level with any content area.