Integrating Math into an IB PYP Unit of Inquiry

  Keeping it real with inquiry based math.

I’m often asked how I integrate maths into our IB PYP units of inquiry. I won’t deny that depending on the unit, it can sometimes be easier said than done. However, I’ve found over the years, that it’s best to keep it relaxed and, if necessary, simply focus on concepts in maths rather than content.  Often, especially within the public IB schools in the USA, we are expected to meet certain maths standards by a certain time. This often results in a clash of math units and units of inquiry and a creative juggle ensues. But hey, who doesn’t love a challenge?  The rest of the IB world?  You’ve got it luckier, I assure you! Anyway, a great resource for math in the beginning of the year is https://www.youcubed.org/. It encourages a maths mindset and is centred around collaborative thinking. It does require signing up for a free account but, once you’re in, you can view...

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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 IB website, MY IB. Entry to this site...

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Brilliant Books for Teaching the IB PYP Learner Profile

Books for Teaching the IB PYP Learner Profile

There are so many wonderful books for helping to teach children about the character traits of the IB Learner Profile. Over the years however, I keep returning to a few that I feel reinforce those profile traits really well. I’ve used these books with 3rd grade up to 6th grade equally successfully, even though they may seem to be a wee bit young for those age groups. They work well as quick read alouds and can be utilised to reinforce many reading skills and strategies too.- inferring, questioning, synthesising, figurative language and more. This page is a list of my favourite books for pulling together the Learner Profile traits. I like to use some of them within our units of inquiry or simply as a stand alone when the opportunity presents itself in my class to look more thoroughly at a particular profile trait.

I have grouped them according to each Learner Profile trait. Each picture is linked to Amazon so that you can click on...

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IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills

It Takes Skills! 

The word is well and truly out. The newest hub bub in the IB world is the Approaches to Learning Skills. Formerly known by the International Baccalaureate Organisation as the Transdisciplinary Skills, these are, simply put, a set of skills that we use when we are involved in learning. They come grouped into five sets: Thinking, Social, Self Management, Research and Communication. They naturally have growth mindset occurring within them, since they cover many different behaviours, self control as well as thinking and communication strategies.

 

As part of your IB PYP  classroom, it is usual to see the skills listed somewhere within the room, as posters ( more posters can be found in my store here and also here) and as part of our daily learning objectives. We often refer to those throughout our week and I also like to list them on my daily Learning Objectives boards, tied in with the subject and goals for that day.

 

By...

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Sharing the Love with my IB PYP Students

I wanted to share a few of my favourite Valentine’s resources that I’ve created over the years. I try to keep it upfront in the minds of my class that Valentine’s day is more about showing kindness and caring to others, rather than simply the abundance of sweets that are handed out. 🙂 Although, I will never refuse sharing their sweets! 🙂

 

These cute and funny Valentine’s cards also contain an empowering message for each recipient and  are for you to hand to your kiddos. They are so simple to prepare. I just love them! Copy and cut, et voila! Then sit back and watch the children smile.

There are 24 different cards that you can use either as Valentine’s cards or as a year round simple reward system. They are aligned with the language of the IB PYP Learner Profile and the IB Attitudes. There is also a blank card to add your own message if you wish. The kids will smile at the message that you are sending them but also at...

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My Favourite Read Alouds for IB PYP Units

I’ve been reflecting lately on the books I’ve used as read alouds  throughout our various units of inquiry, that have both reinforced the inquiry as well as integrated many reading skills and strategies.  I’ve compiled a list that may help you also, when planning your units of inquiry and aligning them with the elements of the PYP as well as your reading standards. Over the years, I have taught mainly from 3rd grade ( Primary 3/4) up to 6th grade ( Primary 7) and so you’ll find these books to fit the upper elementary age range more.

There is another blog post relating specifically to books that I love when reinforcing the traits of the Learner Profile. You can link to that post here. But this list is more for read alouds that will tie to many of the essential elements of the PYP, as well as slot in nicely to particular Transdisciplinary Themes.

I have created this list for your convenience. You can click on the picture and the title of...

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Developing the IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills with Drama

Drama! It brings out the risk taker in many and inspires  Oscar-worthy acting in others. It really is one of my favourite activities in the classroom that incorporates so many skills, which is why I wanted to share some ideas with you regarding using drama with your class.  Perfect for any IB PYP theme, especially How We Express Ourselves, it can be incorporated into all subject areas quite seamlessly, not to mention a fabulous way to enhance an Exhibition presentation.

The IB PYP  Approaches to Learning Skills ( formerly known as the transdisciplinary skills) are grouped into five areas of skills that we use in our daily journey of learning – Thinking, Communication, Social, Self Management and Research.  You can link to a separate post that focuses on developing the children’s awareness  of these skills here.  I have found that when I throw some drama into the mix of my plans, things really start to spice up when it comes...

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Engaging Learners with Authentic Inquiry

Engagement. You know the scene; the entire class is actively involved in their learning. There’s a quiet buzz going on all around. Children are chatting to each other, conversations are focused discussing ideas, plans, strategies. There is movement around the room, with tools and equipment being independently gathered, heads are together, collaboration is seen all around. You know that you’ve nailed it when the busyness of learning is their business!

But…..and there’s definitely a but, how do we keep this going across the curriculum? Is it too idealistic? Time consuming? Can we cover all standards this way? Can we really trust the kids to run with this? How do we, as the teacher, fit it in?

This post isn’t about what engagement looks like in your classroom but rather  about how to initiate and maintain the engagement within authentic inquiry focused learning. Engagement is so much more than just keeping the children busy with...

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IB PYP Growth Mind-set with Attitude!

A scavenger hunt with attitude! That’s what’s going on here.  IB PYP attitudes to be more precise.

As the term growth mind-set sweeps across the educational world, I’d like to point out that we within the IB PYP have been promoting such mind-set for a very long time. 🙂 With an emphasis on developing an “I CAN” attitude, growth mind-set promotes courage, confidence, independence, tolerance, enthusiasm, integrity, cooperation, open mindedness, self management and so on. You get the picture? Character education is just another part of the PYP’s comprehensive approach to teaching and learning that focuses on the development of the whole child.

With the newly enhanced PYP being released this year (2018), the IB Attitudes will become a part of the descriptors within the Learner Profile, as the focus on the Learner shifts towards enabling greater student agency. Understanding one’s personal development through the Learner...

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Implementing Student Agency in the IB PYP

When I first started writing this post, my intention was to jump straight into ideas for implementing student agency in our PYP classrooms. Then I got to thinking that maybe not everyone is wholly familiar with the PYP’s enhancements to be released this year. (2018) And so, I thought I’d take a step back, try to clarify the term “student agency” and go from there.  So, bear with me if you’re up to date with the shifting and changing going on. The ideas follow the chat.  Otherwise, grab a cup of tea and read on.

 

Form: What is agency in the enhanced PYP?

Even though the term “student agency” is the new buzz word regarding our learners in the PYP, it really isn’t altogether new. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s not a brand new change but rather a shift towards a greater emphasis of providing more deliberate autonomy for our students, thus developing leadership. This form of leadership can be...

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