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Supporting A Collaborative Classroom in the IB PYP

The very nature of the student led, inquiry based classroom is to amplify the children's voice and bring their thinking to light. As part of 21st century skills, we know that collaboration is a key player in this development of learning.  There is no doubt that the process of learning through collaboration is the evolution of expanding understanding. It breaks away from that traditional " I" and "me" method of learning and brings forth the community mindset. We want to build up this sense of collective agency through our culture of community learning.

Why Collaborative Learning?

This form of learning enables a multitude of sub-skills and ALL of the IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills. It brings meaningful experiences to learning and allows our students to work towards a higher level of thinking as they build upon each others' thoughts and ideas.

  • Social skills: Becoming active participants of a social setting presents opportunities for the children to become more effective...
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Inquiry Banks: Wondering in Action

A Fountain of Knowledge

“So what is an inquiry bank?”, I hear you say. Well, fundamentally, it is a place to store your questions that arise. Intrinsically, it is a fountain of knowledge, spewing forth the answers to our desires; at least our desired inquiries.

The Inquiry Bank, given the prestige of capitalisation, is a simple resource that I use successfully within my PYP classroom. It is in a central area, positioned at kid friendly height , so that the kids can have free and easy access to it. I usually use a whiteboard easel or just a white poster paper. 

The current central idea is always written in the centre, along with the theme of our unit.As I introduce the new unit of inquiry, I invite the questions to be added to our bank. The children are then free to independently find and record their answers. We use markers and brightly coloured sticky notes to record our questions and answers.
Enthusiasm is often catching and I coach the children to take care...
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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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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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Summer Reading Challenge +Freebie

Hang in there teachers! Summer is in sight!

For those of us north of the equator, the end is in sight! Summer is fast approaching!

I wanted to share my Summer Reading Challenge with your really quickly. Its FREE and is such a win-win activity for kids as well as teachers. Keep those brains in training with the Summer Reading Challenge!

Free Summer Reading Challenge

So easy to print and go, there are reading challenges to suit grades 2-6, with a checklist to complete as they go. Send it home over summer or use it to keep your students reading with enthusiasm right up until the last day. Read by torchlight, read a menu, read by the pool, read upside down, read a biography….and the reading goes on and on. đź™‚

If you read some of the comments from others who have already tried it, there are some great ideas to copy. I like to send them home over summer with the promise of a wee reward for those who complete it and hand it back to me at the beginning of the school year....

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A Back to School IB PYP Activity

 

Ah, back to school thoughts are upon us once again. Summer. It just FLIES in, doesn’t it? I’m always torn between dreading going back to work and  excitement for the start of a new school year, new kiddos to get to know and maybe even a new classroom.

Getting to Know You Design a T-Shirt Activity

Whether you start sooner or later, I wanted to share one of my newest back to school activities that you can use with ANY age level. Part getting-to-know-you and part craft, it is so cute and the kids absolutely LOVE that it is all about them and even looks like them.  I can just see them all hanging up in my classroom, with their adorable t-shirts telling all about Who We Are. A perfect back to school display.

This is simple to prepare and acts as a fabulous getting-to-know-you activity for those first days back. I planned it for about 2 hours a day, over 2 days.

Three Parts to Complete

The front of the t-shirt is divided into sections and is  a...

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Using Interactive Bulletin Boards in Your IB PYP Classroom

 

I am so excited about this new tool for IB PYP classrooms! The interactive bulletin board offers so much and can quite literally become the learning hub for many of the approaches to learning skills, the unit of inquiry or a specific curricular area, all centred around the Learner Profile. It promotes international mindedness, communication skills & accountable talk, builds the attitudes of independence, tolerance and  confidence, to name a few, and encourages student agency in our classroom. This tool does it all!

Form : What does it look like?

 

The Learner Profile, being the centre of the IB PYP, is also the central part of this interactive bulletin board display. The  posters  with the Learner Profile descriptors are actually pockets. They are cute and colourful, with the usual kid-friendly description of what it means to be a learner through each trait.

 

These pockets can be stapled or pinned to your board at a kid friendly...

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New to the IB PYP? FREE Teachers’ Video Training Series

 

Over the past few months, I’ve been hard at work creating an online training course for teachers who are new or newish to the concept-based, student-centred, inquiry classroom. Does this sound like you or someone you know? I am happy to announce that it is ALMOST ready to be released! I’m calling it Essentials for Inquiry.  (has a nice ring to it, I feel.)

Meanwhile, I have these FREE training videos which will give quick, practical and useful information and can be available on demand. I shall be releasing the 3 training videos over the course of the next week. So, make sure you have subscribed so that they will drop right into your inbox. Allow me to introduce this video training series and scroll down for training video 1, Introducing Concept-Based Learning.

Video 1 : Introducing concept-based learning:

  • What is a concept?
  • The purpose of concept-based teaching
  • Related concepts vs. key concepts
  • Developing conceptual thinking
  • Download your free...
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