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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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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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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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Teaching Time with An Inquiry Approach

If I’m to be honest, teaching elapsed time is not my favourite thing to do. It’s pretty close to pulling my own teeth, but of course, ultimately, far more rewarding. 🙂  With interactive timelines things get far more interesting.

 children-cute-drawing-159823

With 3rd grade, it is such a tricky concept to grasp, particularly with hours and minutes. And then when you throw in years and A.D and B.C ( now also known as Before the Common Era /B.C.E and the Common Era/ C.E) , we can really end up quite tied in knots. But once they’ve got it, by golly, the wee angels are soaring! And their teacher is on cloud nine with them!

The review, by the time we get to 4th and 5th grades, isn’t quite as painful, thank goodness, and fine tuning those time lines and introducing more complex variations can even become a fun experience for all involved with great digital variations that the kids love exploring. I’ll get to more of those in a bit.

There are numerous ways to teach elapsed...

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Brilliant Picture Books for Integrating Maths in the IB PYP

I’m an avid believer in making maths an adventure of discovery and creation rather than simply an expected chore. By integrating maths into our units of inquiry and making it an authentic experience, we are dispelling the myth that maths is boring and we turn our learners into investigators, truth seekers and explorers! Far more exciting already, don’t you think?

I’m well aware of how tricky it can be to integrate maths into all of our units of inquiry and so there are several alternative routes that I turn to when the going gets tough, which I’ll be sharing soon in a future post. But for today, I want to share how picture books are one of the easiest ways to bring the adventure back to your maths lessons.

Here are some of my favourites that I’ve found provoke inquiry and are simple to slot into multiple units of inquiry, whilst covering many maths standards. Many of them are flexible enough to adapt for all ages. You can link directly to each book for...

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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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Inspiring Student-Led Action in the IB PYP

We hear incredible stories of kids, from schools all around the world, taking action and using their knowledge from inquiry to make an impact for the better. But how much of that action is truly student-led? How big does action have to be? Does it even matter if it isn’t student led? And how do we inspire the children to independently take action? Are those some of the questions that pop into your head when you hear about such wow-factor action? 

Well, never fear…..I’m here to shed some light on the matter and to dispel some of the doubt (and dare I say cynicism?) that may be whispering in your ear. I have an action plan ( and some free tools) to develop and inspire your class of future heroes! Read on…… 
Action, ideally, is the voice of the children. It is student agency at its finest. Action promotes a connection to learning. It’s a transferrable process that, surprise,...

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