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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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Developing Mindfulness within the IB PYP

 

To get straight to the point: mindfulness belongs in the classroom. As an IB PYP teacher, I approach teaching through a philosophy that centres on the child and the development of the whole child. This philosophy resonates with my own beliefs for educating our children to become avid questioners with the skills and strategies and confidence to try to find out for themselves. I nurture a sense of wonder and a strong belief in self. With this sense of self, I have to understand how to develop this awareness of self within the children and how I can guide them towards understanding who they are as unique individuals and also as learners. Mindfulness has been added to the updated IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills. Specifically, you can now find it under the skill of Self-Management.  In order to best serve the children, I first needed to understand exactly what this "mindfulness" thing was.

I'm lucky to be a part of our close-knit community of international inquiry teachers on...

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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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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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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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Planning the IB PYP Unit ……with the Kids!

It never fails to amaze me, when given the opportunity to take the lead, how much our students rise to the challenge. With the enhancements to the IB PYP having recently been unveiled, I felt that this would be a great time to address co-planning the unit…..with your students as your co-planners!

Encouraging greater student agency in your classroom is more than simply listening to the student voice. In my previous post  about implementing student agency, I mentioned the difference between passive learning and active learning. Allowing the children to actively contribute to the planning of their own learning, absolutely promotes meaningful student involvement.

The unit of inquiry has been planned  in a variety of ways over the years:

  • teachers develop a skeleton plan and complete it as they are informed by the childrens’ inquiries and progressing knowledge.
  • teachers may collaboratively develop the unit with their team, before...
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Journey Through the IB PYP Exhibition

The IB PYP Exhibition! The big event that culminates the PYP for the children, where they get to showcase all of their learning of the Essential Elements! If you are an upper grades teacher, you either love it or you dread it! Regardless of how you feel about it, we cannot take away from the incredibly valuable experience it brings to all involved. Personally, I love it!

I’m really excited  to share this article with you. It is FULL of practical tips, a free video sharing steps through the PYPX and a valuable resource that I created specifically for the IB PYP Exhibition.

I was recently a guest speaker with Vasileios Iosifidis, The PYP Traveller, on You Tube. Being an experienced PYP teacher himself, Vasilis shares a TON of great stuff on his You Tube channel.  I have added his video for you, a few paragraphs down.

Guest speaking with The PYP Traveller.

But first, whether you are experienced or brand


new to the Exhibition, I have created a tool...

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Developing Student Led Inquiry in the IB PYP

The biggest question, when I’m planning an IB PYP unit of inquiry is, at what level is my class in terms of experience and initiative when it comes to inquiry? In other words, which level of student inquiry will I be planning around – structured inquiry, guided inquiry or open inquiry?

 

The biggest catastrophe that can happen to a teacher embarking on inquiry for the first time is to implement an open inquiry without fully understanding the level of her students’ independent inquiry skills. There aren’t many children who are new to the IB PYP that have been formally guided through the skills necessary for independent inquiry. This can result in confusion at best and frustration at the worst. Not to mention that moment when you just have to abandon the lesson and re-group. I know this, cos I’ve been there many a time! Haha!

We want to ensure that our inquiries are structured in such a way that will introduce strategies and guide and...

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