Tuning into IB PYP Related Concepts with Picture Analysis

A key part of tuning into the IB PYP unit of inquiry is unpacking those additional concepts that our investigations will be based upon. I've spoken a lot about ways that we can provoke the children's curiosity and invite their questions into the inquiry. This article goes a little deeper into this tuning in phase as we use images to develop thinking skills, namely all of those skills that make up analysing information, in order to learn more about those related concepts.

If you've been following along with my social media accounts for a while now, then you will know how much I love using pictures to provoke the inquiry. There are so many thinking skills at work when you are presenting images to children and it's so easy to integrate those thinking skills into all subject areas, not to mention how they overlap into research and communication skills too.  This article gives you a few easy to implement tips that can be integrated into your units of inquiry through the related concepts within the IBPYP transdisciplinary themes.

The concepts within each IB PYP transdisciplinary theme bring context to the content of the inquiry.

  Being an upper grades teacher, I begin by covering the sub-skills that we will be focusing on throughout our unit of inquiry. This anchor chart is a great place to start and shows how many of those sub-skills of the Approaches to Learning Thinking skills actually connect with literacy, maths, research & communication. For example: consider the reading skills we can teach through the use of pictures, before we even begin to introduce text. Perfect for all ages, ability levels and those ESL students too:

  • Metacognitive awareness
  • Making connections
  • Literal vs. inferential thinking
  • Questioning
  • Cause & Effect
  • Compare &Contrast
  • Analysing
  • Synthesising  etc.

We add to this chart as we move through the year, and you can see how the children begin to make those connections themselves and they begin to add to the chart too. This acts as a nice reflection and self assessment  activity for any time of the year to quickly allow you to assess your students' reading skills knowledge and for the children to monitor their progress.

Action through Participation

I love using my own pictures and encouraging the children to bring in their pictures too. This participation  really increases the agency and ownership with these learning experiences and has the children thinking how they can use their pictures with their classmates. And of course, it gives us great new material to explore in our inquiry! When you're looking for high- engagement, ready-to-go provocation materials, I have a HUGE collection for every theme! This a concept-based collection built up over years and its now available for you too.

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Tuning into the concepts with great provocation images.

I have lots of resources that include the use of pictures to teach thinking skills and developing conceptual thinkers for both big kids and little kids. Just click on the images to link through to these PYP teaching tools. These concept based activities are part of a set of posters that teach the children how to think through those macro concepts we call the Key Concepts.  I've always used pictures as my go-to for a guided introduction to the concepts or skill through whole group practice, or by using task cards in small collaborative groups. Both of these were (and are still) great, but I wanted to provide more of an option for enabling visible thinking for independent work, inclusive assessment , monitoring/recording progress etc. that would continue to strengthen their skills. 

Plan for skills based activities to nurture conceptual awareness.

Developing conceptual thinking skills with little kids.

Why It Works

Students have the opportunity to observe a picture and make inferences, ask questions, make predictions, etc., practice a thinking or research skill based on the picture, and apply those skills within the process of our inquiry. It packs a lot of learning into each picture! Picture analysis for lower grades.

You can see how this works below, basically adding depth to SEE-THINK-WONDER: Observe It: Within every single image, there is guidance for developing observation skills:

  • Look slowly
  • What do you notice?
  • What ONE thing stands out?
  • How does your perspective compare with others?

Take as many notes as you can, encourage students to stretch their thinking focusing on what they SEE and watch their inference skills grow with EVERY picture you observe! Examples of observations are included.

Make connections: This section encourages the children to connect with their background knowledge and really develop that awareness of how our schema assists with our understanding AND adds depth to our curiosity.

  • What do you know?
  • What does this remind you of?
  • How might your background knowledge help you to understand this?
  • What do you still wonder?

 Infer it: This section has guided questions that focus on this thinking skill AND relates to the “observe it” section.  Many children get confused at this point, with what they know and what they infer. Making this clarification is important as they move higher with their thinking.

  • What do you think might be happening?
  • What might this person know, believe or understand?
  • How might this connect with our theme?
  • What big ideas do you predict?
  • How does your perspective compare with others?

Formulate questions: This section leaves plenty of scope for inviting the children's wonder and directing the inquiry. As this skill develops further, the inquiry becomes deeper. Keep in mind that perception and connection can produce quite different questions. This in itself is an interesting angle for any inquiry.

  • What do you wonder?
  • What makes you curious?
  • How might we build upon your questions?
  • Finish the question: What if..?


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More Skills You Can Cover

Here are a few more blog posts that show how you can further develop those inquiry skills.

If you're using pictures with your students, I'd love to hear more about it! Reply to this email and let me know how it's going or what other skills you need covered!

P.S. You can find a ton of PYP teaching tools to support the ATL Skills in my store, for ALL grade levels. Take a look here. 


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