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End of the Year Reflection Activities for the IB PYP Classroom

Greetings international teachers, from (not so )sunny Scotland. Another school year is almost over and I know those main challenges the we teachers face at the end of the school year.
  • Reflecting on the school year
  • Closing out portfolios meaningfully
  • Keeping our students engaged AND learning right up until the end.
  • Saying goodbyes ( so many of our international students move on & away)
  • Report writing AND maintaining our sanity......you know?
Well, I have a few ideas for activities that are perfect for the end of the year that I wanted to share with you. These are easy to prepare, easy to implement and easy to keep the kids motivated whilst learning. Even if you arent at that point in your school year, take a look. Im hoping you'll be able to find something that might work for your class. 😀

White Board Summer Wishes

The picture below is a photo of me with messages from my 3rd graders. This is a super easy and fun activity for ALL ages. The children stand in front of...
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Integrating Inquiry Based Math in the IB PYP

The Inquiry-Based Math Project in the IB PYP

Integrated maths inquiry, concept based maths, project based learning….it doesn’t matter what you call it, well designed projects support learning through a guided inquiry that has enough scope to ensure that maths concepts are approached authentically and with a student-led perspective. These projects naturally lend themselves to support all types and levels of learners. They are transdisciplinary in nature, allowing concepts and skills to be transferred and applied towards an end product that has largely been created with the children's voice as an obvious part of the process. They're open-ended enough to allow your students room to expand and direct the project yet structured enough to support those learners who aren’t quite ready to take that leap into independent inquiry.  As you watch the following video, where I share my strategies together with Parvana Guliyeva (an IB PYP grade 4 teacher, currently in...

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Mentoring the Mentors within the IB PYP Exhibition

Within the IB PYP Exhibition, your team of mentors are a crucial support tool for students and facilitators alike. They are often a mixture of other staff members ( teachers, support staff ), members of the local community and parents. Many mentors are coming to the Exhibition for the first time. And, even if it isn’t their first time, its so important to ensure right from the very beginning, that everyone is on the same page. Mentoring your mentors is one key to making the journey  a smoother one.  I have a couple of GREAT tools to help! In this article, you will find a fantastic video, a free guide and my best-selling Exhibition journal. If this is your first journey through the PYP Exhibition, make sure you grab your FREE timeline here.

[caption id="attachment_3787" align="alignnone" width="980"] Get your FREE Exhibition timeline now![/caption]

Within my student journal, Journey Through the PYP Exhibition, you will find ideas for mentors as well as clarifying...

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Integrating Math Authentically Into the IB PYP Inquiry

I’m delighted to have teamed up with PYP teacher, Parvana Guliyeva again, to share these strategies for integrating maths into the inquiry authentically. Parvana is currently teaching PYP4 at The International Sharing school in Lisbon, Portugal. You can reach her on Instagram @space_for_learning. Scroll down to watch the video below. You may remember Parvana from a previous collaboration when she shared her ideas for inclusive assessment and bringing a greater degree of AGENCY to our students with reflection &  assessment. You can read more about assessment tools and strategies here and link to the video in this article.

 

And of course, if you are looking for a ready-to-go professional development workshop packed full of practical strategies for bringing agency into assessment for ALL age levels, take a look at my workshop package. 

As you watch the following video, consider our transdisciplinary approach and how we plan to investigate through...

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Bringing the IB PYP Learner Profile to Life

What kind of a learner are you? Consider the question. Are you more of the lion type of learner or perhaps you're more of the hamster? This is a simple activity that I use at the beginning of the school year, as we are getting to know, not only our class community but also ourselves. As I am building this community of  learners, I want them to have a greater understanding of who they are as learners and to recognise and appreciate our diversity.   And that, as we know, all stems from the IB Learner Profile. Let's begin with an inquiry into who we are as learners.

  With a simple question and fun images, the children are asked to relate themselves to the pictures. You can choose to use words or simply begin with only the images. This adds to the thinking. I have done it both ways, depending on the students abilities with language, the vocabulary of the PYP and their thinking skills etc. Ask them: Are you more of a lion when it comes to learning, or are you more...

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Bringing Student Agency into Assessment in the IB PYP

 

Student Agency and Inclusive Assessment

Over the years, Ive chatted about inclusive assessment as a practice that needs to become embedded within any student-led, inquiry-based classroom. This message has been spread far and wide that this is a really important part of our daily routine. The IB themselves shifted towards on-going reflection, we have student agency as all the buzz ( and hallelujah for that!), numerous educators within our community are sharing their rationale for the value that inclusive assessment brings and none of this could have come a moment too soon. Yes, its that vital.

If we consider assessment as a key element within education, then we have to reconsider the role our students play within that element.

If you'd like to catch up with my 3 part series of articles,  you can link to those here. They cover the form and function of assessment in the inquiry-based classroom, together with  strategies for developing inclusive assessment in your...

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Strategies for Developing IB PYP Conceptual Thinkers

Concepts are such a big part of our IB PYP lives. They begin with our transdisciplinary planning and end with the students' assessment of their conceptual understanding. And in between, we are nurturing and developing their awareness of those big ideas so that they may transfer their knowledge and understanding across disciplines and the programme of inquiry.

Following on from my conversation on Facebook, LIVE with  Misty Paterson from Pop-Up Studio, I wanted to offer some ideas that I have used for developing concept-seekers. I'm going to give you the super-quick tutorial on conceptual learning and planning before I dive into the tools I use to develop conceptual thinking within my students. If youre looking for ideas for assessing the related concepts within our transdisciplinary themes, you will LOVE this article that shares my strategy for rich, rigorous and student-led conversations to reflect and assess those related concepts. Take a look at this article below:

Enhancing...

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Strategies for Teaching English in IB PYP International Schools

As an international teacher, it is highly likely that you will be teaching English as a second or even third foreign language. In many international schools, we find ourselves with a beautiful broth of multiple languages and cultures within our classrooms. And, we deliver our inquiry-based framework to the children in English. For many others, we are teaching in a host country, to a class full of native speakers from our host country and, again, part of our repertoire is to teach those children to not only speak in English but also to learn in English.

Language therefore becomes more than simply a means of conversation. We are teaching a language, about language and through language and we do all of this with that authentic, inquiry-based approach that we truly believe in.  In this article, I will be sharing a recent video from a conversation I had live on Facebook with grade 4 teacher, Maria Vidal. ( @bilingualising on Instagram) [caption id="attachment_2738"...

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Concepts vs. Topics: Bringing clarity for IB PYP teachers

Concepts vs. Topics: Let's Get clear.

In Module 1, Lesson 2 of my online professional development course, Essentials for Inquiry: Getting Started with Student-Led Inquiry, I dive into bringing inquiry teachers an understanding all about conceptual teaching and learning. As an inquiry teacher, it's that important to have this fundamental understanding right from the beginning because we approach our teaching through a transdisciplinary lens, and it is through those concepts that the children are able to make their meaning far more enduring, transferring this understanding across disciplines, time and place. As we plan conceptual learning experiences for and with the students, we want their learning to have this authenticity and the scope for expansion as they begin to make those rich connections, forming meaning for themselves. In this article, I'm delighted to be sharing teacher-author, Misty Paterson, as she helps to uncover the difference between concepts and topics.  The...

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Developing Thinkers & Inquirers in the Early Years IB PYP

 

The early years in the IB PYP can be a whole new experience for teachers new to student-led inquiry. It is a beautiful mix of play-based exploration,  guiding invitations leading to inquiry and  provoking wonder all led by the children's natural curiosity.

I do not profess to be an expert with this age-group. Having never taught in an early years classroom, it amazes me when I see creative early years teachers working their magic and bringing the elements of the PYP seamlessly into practice with our youngest learners.

Common Challenges

I often hear from early years teacher-facilitators that their challenges include questioning and developing this skill with the children.  Such struggles include:

  • How do I get the children to ask meaningful questions?
  • How can we use thinking strategies with such young children?
  • They can't  read or write, how do I plan for inquiries?
  • They're too young to ask good questions.

Perhaps you can relate to one or a few? Well, I am...

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