Back to School IB PYP Sale

Back to school is almost upon us again! Whether you’re ready or not, get a head start on your new IB PYP classroom with the TpT Back to School Sale! Teachers Pay Teachers is having their annual Back to School Sale from August 1-2. All of my products will be 20% off and TPT is offering more when you use the promo code BTS2017.

If you’re looking for high-interest activities and units to start off the new year, I have just what you may need. I’ve been working on providing more IB PYP products and adding to my collection of Complete Units of Inquiry. Take a look in my store and see if anything fits your upcoming Programme of Inquiry.

For those of you who are new to the IB PYP, you may like my Getting Started with the PYP Kits, for big kids and also for little kids.  Or there is a MEGA  bundle of PYP tools and classroom activities found here.

Enjoy! Happy sale shopping!

Back to School Giveaway! Win!

Get back to school ready! Win a $10 gift card!

Giveaway starts Saturday, 29th July and ends at midnight (mst) on July 31st.

3 lucky winners will be notified by e mail WITH A $10 TpT GIFT CARD ATTACHED on August 1st

If you missed this giveaway follow my blog by adding your e mail address below for future giveaways.

EASY TO ENTER: CLICK BELOW

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Good Luck!


Essential Tools for Every IB PYP Classroom

 

Cooperation- how to construct a 3d model of a volcano.

Back to school preparations are in high gear for some and are coming to a screeching halt for others as summer is upon us! I tend to fall into the latter category myself…despite good intentions every single year. You know, last minute cramming, moments before the kids walk into the classroom?  But that’s how I roll after 23 years of this gig! However, for the many, many teachers who will be new or newish to the PYP this year, I wanted to put out a list of the essentials for every PYP classroom, giving even those of you who, like myself, tend to procrastinate all summer long, plenty of time to prepare.

 

Every PYP classroom, regardless of where you are in the world, ( 4655 IB world schools at the last count in 2017!), will have some commonalities as I’ve listed below. Your PYP coordinator will be able to provide a printed checklist list for you from the OCC ( IB’s Online Curriculum Centre). Entry to this site will require your school code as a password. If you do not have convenient access, you can download this FREE PYP classroom checklist list by clicking here.  

I also found a really great, 4 minute video on You Tube a few years ago and still think it is one of the best for peeking into a PYP classroom set up.  I’ve no idea who created it but I applaud them and gladly give credit. Check it out here. 

The Essential Agreements

Although this is definitely something that will be required to be seen in your PYP classroom, it does require the children to be present and active participants in its creation and so isn’t possible to have it prepared in advance of day 1. But, it’s a fantastic way to help to establish procedures during those first few days when we are all just getting to know one another, as well as have the children be very much a part of forming our classroom community.

The Essential Agreements are essentially a list of agreements that are important to the balance within our classroom. They essentially consist of good attitudes, reinforce learner profile traits and are quite simply essential to a smoothly running, respectful environment. They are expected to stay up, for all to see, all year long. You can of course, add to and adapt them as the opportunities arise. But, essentially, you want to get those babies agreed upon and up within that first month.  Essential. ?

I like to have each child add their signature to our final list of Essential Agreements before we give it pride of place on the wall. Voila! Class contract completed.

The Classroom Posters

A set of PYP posters will be required to be in plain sight and easily accessed by the children so that they can constantly refer to them. You will find that this happens  on a daily basis. The posters will need to cover The Learner Profile, The IB Attitudes, the six themes for each unit of inquiry, the transdisciplinary skills, the Key Concepts and the IB Action Cycle. These are things that are looked for by IB evaluators and crucial to a working PYP classroom at all levels. Ideally, the children will be part of the posters creations, evidenced by their own writing and drawings. This is up to you and the needs of yourclass of course.  There are a myriad of great posters out there, not least the ones that can be found on the resource site of the IB’s own website but I, of course, am plugging my own creations too!  :0 )

You can link to any of the posters in my store by clicking on the images. Shop around, see what suits your taste and your classroom style. You will find easy prep, print and go posters as well as create-your-own posters 

Create Your Own Posters- a handy packet for all grade levels.

The Learner Profile: The Centre of the PYP

The Learner Profile posters are essential in that they describe the character traits of a learner and, since that’s what we are doing every day, it’s important that  the children are able to see the language of the Learner Profile and have the posters under our noses as we are constantly referring to those learner traits. Each unit of inquiry will focus on specific learner profile traits. Check your planners to find out which ones are the focus for each. I like to point a big, bold, red arrow at the traits ( and key concepts) that are our focus for each unit. Another blog post that I created recently, does look at my favourite books for reinforcing the Learner Profile. You can link to that post here.

Involve the children & create your own banners or posters.

The IB Attitudes.

There are 12 attitudes that we refer to constantly. Within each unit of inquiry, there will be a focus of a few of them. The attitudes are what we use to develop the Learner Profile traits. I also like to reward the children when they are spotted using these attitudes with my Star Student tickets. This attitude  is acknowledged with a star drawn on their work and a wee message for them. The children are taught from day one that they can earn their Star Student ticket by demonstrating the IB Attitudes in their day-to-day action at school. They know that when they see this star, they can independently walk over to the place where I keep the tickets and they will write themselves a Star Student ticket. It requires name, IB Attitude shown and the reason why they receive it. Example, ” I showed commitment when I handed my project in on time.” or ” I was cooperative with Bobby, as we read together to find the answers.” etc. The completed ticket will then be put into the tub ready to be drawn at the end of the day. Every afternoon, I will pull several tickets from our box, read aloud the recipient’s name and the attitude they demonstrated  and the winners get to pull a prize from our prize box. Simple, effective classroom management,promotes  growth mindset and the kids LOVE it! You can grab a free copy of the Star Student tickets here if you wish.

In addition, I do have a fancier-schmancier packet of positive behaviour prize tickets found in my store that are all related to the 12 IB Attitudes.  Click here to view them.

The Key Concepts

These posters are a biggie since we teach everything through the lens of the big ideas of the 8 key concepts. Your students should know the definition of each key concept inside out and back to front by the time the year is over. Everything I taught, each curricular area, is through the key concepts. You can find more ideas as to how to use the key concepts within your teaching in this post from a few years ago.

The Transdisciplinary Themes

There are 6 themes. Each theme is what our unit of inquiry will fall under. Thus, these posters are used every six weeks or so; the length of an average unit of inquiry. They can be displayed altogether and pointed out with an arrow during each unit or, you can add them to an accumulative bulletin board that you use for your units of inquiry. Incidentally, when you introduce each unit, its great to point out the key vocabulary within that unit of the profile, attitudes, concepts, skills and theme by using the posters.

  • How We Express Ourselves
  • How the World Works
  • Sharing the Planet
  • How We Organise Ourselves
  • Who We Are
  • Where We Are in Place and Time

The Transdisciplinary Skills

Every learner is constantly developing the transdisciplinary skills within their learning behaviours. The 5 skills consist of a list of actions and behaviours that are under the umbrella of one main skill. I point the skills out every day, with maths, reading, research, group work, independent work and so on. When the children are asked to reflect upon their day, or at the end of a unit, they often refer to the Skills posters.

  • Thinking Skills
  • Research Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Social Skills
  • Self-Management Skills

The IB Action Cycle

Marching for equal right.

Action. Without it, it’s all just talk. Part of the IB philosophy is to encourage independent action. This will of course look quite different depending on the age of the child. However, within a PYP classroom, the cycle of action is taught, demonstrated, reinforced and encourage. Keeping it simple is key, in my opinion. There are so many smaller actions that can be achieved daily than one big action once a year.

 

Desks: More than Simply A Place to Sit

Collaborative group work requires space to meet, discuss and think together.

Whether you opt for flexible seating or fixed seating is entirely up to you, but the positioning of the desks is far more important. A PYP class is constantly working collaboratively, sharing ideas, thinking through problems and exploring artefacts and sources of evidence. It looks like a busy, productive factory with bodies moving and voices chatting.   Positioning your tables or desks into groups is the most effective way of accomplishing this. The children can sit beside and opposite one another, they can move around their group, they can all see, hear and access materials far more easily than if they were sitting in rows. Of course, there are times when a teacher has to single out a few seats and separate children in order to maintain management. I totally get it! It can actually work in your favour in order to get the kids back into group work. Bribery? I prefer to call it motivation. ?

 

The Teacher Table- Our Inquiry Table

Math inquiry: angles, area and fancy fish.

In addition to having my table groups for the kids, I have a kidney shaped table in my classroom that serves as the gathering place for my group work as well as a place for individual groups to work together. I love this table and it usually doubles as my desk since I spend so much time working with the children at that table. I like to have that positioned in a central spot where I can have my students meet me AND I can still see what’s going on all around me. : if you know what I mean! 😉

On the whole though, you really want to establish the collaborative environment from day one. I plan to write a post for developing collaboration and team work very soon. Stay tuned. 🙂

 

A Second Language- Making the Room International

Most of the IB schools I have worked in have been truly international schools, with a fantastic group of children coming from all corners of the globe in one classroom. However, depending on where you work, this can vary. And so your Language B will vary too. In order to encourage development of a second language, the PYP classroom will have the basics labelled with both the native language and the second language.- pencils, rulers, door, desk etc. I also like to add a few key sentences in the second language too, posted around the room where the kids can easily refer to them. Examples:

  1. “Please may I use the bathroom?”
  2. “Can I fill up my water bottle please?”
  3. “May I have a drink of water, please?”

These phrases slowly developed as we progress throughout the year, getting to the point that the kids are challenged to ask using the foreign language every time they want to ask. It can often be uncomfortable for some kids in the beginning, but with gentle coaching and firm perseverance, they really do get it mastered and feel immensely proud of their wee selves. You may even find that you are approached with suggestions to add to the repertoire of languages! My trickiest was Hebrew. Haha! Amazing what you will learn from your kiddos!

Research Tools

So much of learning is inquiry based, student led and teacher facilitated and therefore we are constantly researching. Having the tools handy for research is important within a PYP classroom.

Computers should be kept in  central location in your classroom. If you have laptops or tablets, keep them in  cart or on a table. Using duct tape to mark the layout of them is handy, especially to encourage responsible ownership. Desktop computers can be spaced around the room or placed together in a kind of computer area.

There should be a plentiful selection of non fiction books readily available in your classroom library or, if they are sourced with each separate unit, keep them on display and hands on for the children, throughout the unit of inquiry.

I have a selection of good old-fashioned encyclopedias, dictionaries and thesaurus also on hand.

Maps or a world globe are fantastic tools too.

Your PYP coordinator will usually give you a deadline as to when you should have accomplished this list. So don’t panic if youre just reading this the night before school goes back! As I said earlier, there are many great tools and resources available to make your life easier for the set up of your PYP classroom. Please do reach out and let me know if there is anything that I could add to my store for you, to help make this set up easier. I am always open to hearing from you.

Good luck with your new school year and enjoy!

 

 

Reflection and Goal Setting within the IB PYP

Reflection & Goal Setting in the PYP Classroom

Its that time of year again……

Just last week my daughter asked me what my New Year’s resolution would be. Before answering, I cynically thought about how I’ll swear to exercise more, eat less and lose the same 10 lbs I’ve been losing and gaining for the past ten years. I chickened out in my response, ” I haven’t really thought about it yet.” But really, isn’t it good to reflect upon where we are and set goals for where we would like to be? I mean we do it in the classroom very frequently.


Awards certificates for the PYP found here.


Reflecting within the PYP.

Every six weeks we reflect upon our learning within the IB Primary Years Programme. We focus on the Learner Profile trait of being reflective and look back at the central idea and how our understanding has change. We think upon the key concepts covered and contemplate our learning through those concepts. And, of course, the transdisciplinary skills are contemplated and we consider which skills we have improved with and those which still require work. That’s a lot of reflection for our kiddos and the danger I have found is that it can become monotonous, routine and therefore not really meaningful for the kids. Just the same old, same old on the same old piece of paper stuffed into our portfolios until the following six weeks.

Making Reflection Meaningful and Differentiated

With the thought of differentiation looming large ( as our school wide focus), I thought about the rigmarole of reflecting and how it was seriously lacking authenticity. So, in order to help my kiddos who struggled with writing, I created a selection of easy to complete and fun to think about reflection sheets. These began with the simple task of creating a cartoon to show their learning. This was received with far more enthusiasm than the usual reflection sheets. And, some of the more able kids even wanted to use them. Thus the Goal Setting and Reflection packet was born. I went home and thought about how I wanted the kids to be able to choose their own reflection format. It is after all a very personal moment when we are asked to reflect. I wanted to ensure that the important details were considered ( concepts, central idea, profile, skills, attitudes) and then scaffolded the sheets accordingly to suit the different needs within my classroom.

What is Refection?

My fifth graders and I spent some time prior to the end of unit, thinking about what it really means to reflect.

      We used the idea of concept maps to look back at the new knowledge that we had gained over the course of the unit of inquiry.

    • We studied our inquiry bank and wrote down questions that arose from our original questions.
    • We flipped through our working binders and notebooks and highlighted the learning that showed we had used certain transdisciplinary skills and Learner Profile traits, making notes by those highlighted pages.
    • We then went back to the central idea and, in our small groups, we broke it down to fit in with the concepts we had studied and wrote a group statement as to what it NOW meant to us and our knowledge now.
    After all of that ( which took us about a week), I introduced the new planners for our unit reflection, I selected 3-4
    different formats and then allowed the students to pick their


    own sheet for reflecting

    The children were told to spend at least ten minutes remembering what we discussed about the skill of reflecting and to take the full 40 minutes given, to complete their unit reflection. You could have heard a pin drop! The entire class was engaged in flipping through past notes and activities, silently thinking about their learning and creating a meaningful and authentic piece of work that truly showed their thinking and perspective of their own learning. Voila! Success!

    FREEBIE!

    You can find a free copy of my Learner Profile refection sheet here in my TpT store. If you wish, you can also look at the simple Print and Go packet I created for my class here. There is an editable version too.( This editable option was created with Microsoft Powerpoint 2007 and may need simple  re-formatted if you have other versions.)

    https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/IB-PYP-Reflection-and-Goal-Setting-Print-and-Go-Pack-1848535

    Anyway, off I now go to reflect upon my year and plan my goals for the New Year! Hmmm… go to the gym 3 x week, eat less sugar, drink more water….. 🙂

    Enjoy!

    ¬Susan

    Making Thinking Visible

    Making Thinking Visible

    It is no great news that children are created in a myriad of different ways and the way they synthesise things is as varied. We have the listeners, the visual learners, the kinesthetic and the cognitive to throw out  a few of the technical terms. Our challenge is not only to cater to all of those varying forms of learning but also to be aware of who our different learners are within our classroom.
     By making thinking visible, it helps us, as their educators, to see exactly what is going on ( or not going on in some cases) as each child is learning and to facilitate their learning further. Also, for a child to be able to show their thinking and explain how they came up with a solution, is a big confidence booster! :

    The book that I’m about to plug is aptly entitled, “Making Thinking Visible”. It was given to me by one of my head teachers about 6 years ago. Since then, we have actually done a staff PD using the book to help us. The strategies are priceless, in my opinion, and utterly tied in with inquiry based thinking and learning. Many of them you will recognize as they have been around for a while and some may be new. All, in my opinion, are valuable and touch on all forms of learning. You can find the book  on Amazon by clicking the link below.


    Perspective: Tug O’ War                                    

    The Tug O’ War is an amazing provocation and converstation starter and will certainly get the children thinking about the key concept of perspective. Using pictures or text and a question to ponder, the children will write their opinion to the question on a sticky note and post it on a continuum of yes at one end and no at the other end. This can be done anonymously or not. I have used the technique along the lines of a gallery walk, with my 5th graders, where they look at the other answers and note their thinking. We then come together as a whole class to discuss the different perspectives. It is perfectly okay for the children to change their thinking with an explanation and to move their sticky note.

    There doesn’t have to be a final outcome. I have found however, when used at the beginning of a unit of inquiry, that often some kids will change their minds as we progress with our learning and inquiries. 

    Connection: Interactive Organisers

    Making connections is a thinking skill that goes on all the time within all subject areas. By using large graphic organisers, the children are able to work together cooperatively, sharing and building upon their thinking. They have to use a ton of discussion as they work to place their thoughts. The concept maps that I often use within our inquiries are a great way to SEE how the children are making connections between the key concepts and their vocabulary or math skills or whatever you may be working on. You can check out concept maps here from a previous post.

    Reflection: The picture below shows a formative assessment that I did towards the end of our unit of inquiry. But of course this can be done with any curricular area. I’m planning on trying it with our math unit of fractions too.

    The children became REFLECTIVE, using the Learner Profile trait and they began by discussing within their table groups the things that they feel they learned from the unit. Each group then took the time to write their learning on the chart paper. Showing their learning and making their thinking visible allowed the children to share what they know, which is always a plus. It was also a great evaluation of my own where i could see who knew what, and perhaps which lines of inquiry I needed to develop further.  Finally, when we came to our final reflection of our unit, the information on this chart was priceless for the children to look upon and recall all of the learning. ( You can find a myriad of reflection sheets in my store. You have the option of print and go or editable packets.) 

    There is an earlier post all about REFLECTION if you’re interested. You can link to it here. 
    Meanwhile, I am continuing to try to make the kids thinking visible all in the pursuit of constant and never ending improvement- for them and mostly for me. 
    Enjoy! 
    ~ SUSAN