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Planning Through the IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills

The IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills are a BIG deal! We think of them as the tools that support independent learning, amplifying the journey as the children progress with their development of those 21st century skills. And it is so important to identify those skills and then acknowledge them. Transparency is key. 

The functional language or action words help us when planning through the ATL skills with the children, to assist with recognising the skills in use, being able to transfer those skills authentically and connect the purpose to their learning meaningfully. Read on for practical ideas and tools for assisting with co-planning through the IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills and watch the video where I share practical strategies for including the children in the planning process.

As you know, the PYP aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more...
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Implementing Visible Thinking Routines in the IB PYP

When it comes to reflection and assessment of our IB PYP transdisciplinary inquiries, we are fundamentally assessing the abstract; understanding of concepts, transfer of knowledge and development of skills. These are not things that can be monitored with multiple choice assessments. (If you'd like to explore more about assessment in the PYP, start with this article here. ) Part of our assessment strategies include on-going documentation of the learning process, which includes the children's thinking and this is where the valuable visible thinking routines assist. I am delighted to welcome my guest writer, Jahnavi Aswani, a homeroom teacher-facilitator with PYP 3 from Mount Litera School International, Mumbai. She is bringing her experience with visible thinking routines and practical ideas to share with our community. As you read through Jahnavi's article, consider the Approaches to Learning Skills that are put into practice within the different thinking routines. Read on for some...
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A Transdisciplinary Approach to the Arts in the IB PYP

Dear IB PYP teachers, allow me to introduce Sven Valcárcel Marsà, IB PYP teacher and music teacher in Agora Lledó International School inSpain, as my guest writer for this article. I met Sven through Instagram @valcarcelmarsa after he reached out to share his strategies for approaching the arts through a transdisciplinary approach. The PYP Scope and Sequence document for music  defines the body of knowledge music students need. It is differentiated based on the students’ abilities and situations, progressively builds upon their conceptual understanding and skills which means, as with everything in the PYP, is approached as a transdisciplinary learning experience, through the concepts within our themes.

In Phase 1, students “…explore sound as a means of expressing imaginative ideas.”

 Phase 4, students will “…write music in traditional notation…create music that will be refined after sharing with...

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5 Keys to Develop Collaborative Learning Experiences in the IB PYP

There is no doubt that within most of the IB PYP units of inquiry we have those subjects that have to be addressed as "stand alone" lessons that require explicit teaching and a very real need for paper and pencil work. However, when it comes to engagement, we need to remember that hands on investigation, authentic application of the skills and student input is far more memorable for the children, enables transfer of understanding and supports a sense of ownership. Let's talk about the collaborative learning experience. I am using maths and reading skills as an example but it can be applied to any subject.  Welcome to OPERATION COOPERATION.

..... it is fundamental to the philosophy of the PYP that, since it is to be used in real-life situations, mathematics needs to be taught in relevant, realistic contexts, rather than by attempting to impart a fixed body of knowledge directly to students  -Oxford Mathematics & IBO

I will be sharing some real-world examples from...

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Putting Mindfulness into Practice in the IB PYP

My guest writer this week continues with her ideas for developing a mindfulness practice in schools as part of the IB PYP Self management Skills. Karen Myrick is a PYP Mentor at the International School of the Gothenburg Region in Sweden and holds a Head of Department position where she works with the development of the ATL Skills. In addition to her 20 years of experience teaching in the IB PYP, Karen is a certified Mindfulness Instructor, has a passion for student and teacher well-being, and has developed mindfulness courses for teachers, and mindfulness resources for the classroom, which help teachers bring this amazing, science-backed practice to their students. She has presented at the Toddle SEL Pop Up event in July 2021, the IB Virtual Conference in October 2021, and most recently at the Nordic Network of International Schools Conference in Copenhagen. You can link to Karen's website, themindfulteacher.co,  here. 

Targeting the skills within self management and...

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Easing Into Mindfulness in the IB PYP

[caption id="attachment_10297" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Meet Karen Myrick, certified mindfulness practitioner and IB PYP teacher.[/caption]

I am thrilled to have Karen Myrick, IB PYP teacher and certified mindfulness coach, as my guest writer for this article. I met Karen through Instagram @themindfulteacher.co, as she shared her strategies for introducing a mindfulness practice into her classroom.

Karen has since developed many resources for bringing this important self-management sub-skill into our daily classroom routines. As important, she has also developed mindfulness supports specifically for us as teachers.

Ask yourself, how much do you actually model a mindfulness practice as much as you model being a lifelong learner and inquirer?

As you read through Karen's story, I have no doubt you may be able to relate to some parts of her story. If youre looking for a mindfulness practice to help you on a personal level, as well as some simple and easy to implement...

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Surviving Report Cards in the IB PYP School

Love them or hate them, report cards are a much-needed communication for all involved. The IB PYP report card gives you a road map of the standards your student is working on together with those abstract elements that are essential parts of the whole child. If you're new to the PYP report card, it can look a little overwhelming, bordering on an essay in some schools! (I am not kidding!)  However the format, the report card provides an opportunity to look closely at each child’s journey of their learning and, most importantly, from a whole child perspective. If you're looking for some guidance and a free set of report card comments, read on.

The Whole Child Approach

Every child meets or exceeds expectations on a different day at a different time, or quite possibly a different year. The expectation we have to emphasise with learning standards is that it's a journey, not a race.

The expectation we have to emphasise with learning standards is that it’s a journey, not...

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Tips for Sharing the IB PYP with Parents

Engaging the families of our IB PYP students and getting them on board is so important for all involved and not least for bringing that cohension to our learning community. Often times, it is the parents in our learning community who are the last to understand what exactly it is that we do. I receive many questions and requests from teachers, coordinators and school leaders who are presented with this job of bringing the PYP to the parents. Do any of the questions below sound familiar?

So, what exactly is the PYP?

How is my child actually learning?

What do you mean that you're a FACILITATOR?

I'm a little concerned about this student-led inquiry thing?

Well, here's my advice for you if you've been given the soapbox to step upon and deliver the message of why we encourage inquiry based learning, support student agency and proudly fly the flag of being a PYP school.  These tips are designed with ideas to pick and choose. Obviously, what you do depends on time, space and your...

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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...

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How IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills Inspire Taking Action

 The IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills are naturally used across the disciplines and one of the keys to our transdisciplinary approach. (thus they used to be called the Transdisciplinary Skills) As co-planners of the inquiry, we want to be intentional when identifying our focus skills that will align best with the primary purpose of our unit of inquiry. (organisation, expression, investigation etc.)  You want to ensure that you plan your learning experiences to give the children a targeted experience with your focus skills. The sub-skills within the IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills are in themselves actions. We, as facilitators, provide opportunity for naturally inspiring action that can fall within all categories of our IB PYP action.

  • Participation

  • Social Justice

  • Advocacy

  • Social Entrepreneurship

  • Lifestyle Choices

I have some ideas taken from real-world examples from the various schools I have taught within across the world. I hope you are inspired by a...

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