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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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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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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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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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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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Steps & Strategies for Developing Research Skills in the IB PYP

Research. The ability to help ourselves to find an answer to a question or the solution to a problem.

This potential to find answers for ourselves is a skill that  includes the ability to decide specifically what we want to know, to find information about a topic, evaluate that information,  analyse and interpret the information  and then put it all together in a way that brings us answers and solutions for ourselves. This is a skill that we want our students to develop.

Developing research skills includes explicit teaching of the skill, leading to implicit practice. This resource does exactly that with task cards targeting the research sub-skills.[/caption] The research sub- skills that our IB PYP students need, right from the earliest years include:

  • Observing
  • Formulating questions
  • Media literacy
  • Sourcing data
  • Evaluating sources
  • Analysing & interpreting data
  • Synthesising
  • Reflecting
  • Presenting

We want to ensure that the children's research inquiries are...

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Being An IB PYP Inquiry Teacher

I played around with the title of this article, largely because the job of an IB PYP teacher never looks the same from teacher to teacher. I tried, ' The Role of ....", then, " The Job of.." and finally settled on the above because basically job refers to the content  and role refers to the context . Our role and job, I felt,  can look quite different depending on the grade level, whereas being brings our own uniqueness to the role which amplifies the job. Make sense? I may be putting too much thought into it. Ha!

Anyway, the most common queries I receive from teachers new to student-led inquiry and the IB PYP is that they are seeking clarity as to how their job ( the content)  may differ from their previous teaching positions and what their new role ( the context) , will look like. Well, rather than simply providing a list like a job description, I created points that summarise  what happens as we make that shift from the traditional classroom teacher, to that...

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6 Steps to Setting Goals with IB PYP Students

Its that time of year again……reflection, fresh starts, new beginnings and goal setting.

A New Year or even a new school year, is an exciting time to gather as a class community and to think about all the dreams and goals that everyone wants to make come true. When we begin with this type of thing, it’s a great idea to just make a list of ALL those aspirations. Dream boards are fun ways to do this. I make one every single year! Dream BIG! Think beyond school! Just get them thinking forward.

 

Now, in order to make this list meaningful rather than a forgotten exercise within a few days, we need to encourage the children to turn those dreams into goals.

                                       

Dream boards or vision boards are simple and fun ways to just go ALL out and dream! Goals begin with dreams.

As adults, we know the importance of...

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Using the IB PYP Key Concepts

The concept map, making thinking visible.

What is A Key Concept?

I was asked recent to show a few of our teachers how I incorporate the key concepts into everyday learning. I felt that there may be a few more of you out there who’d also be interested. So, here we go.

The IB PYP now has 7 key concepts that are designed as the lens or  the “big picture”of which we look at our lines of inquiry within each of our six units of inquiry. ( 4 units for EYP)

 

 

A concept is a big idea- a principle or conception, that is enduring, the significance of which goes beyond aspects such as subject matter or place in time. “ Wiggins 1998
 
 
It is important that we don’t get bogged down with the idea that the key concepts are simply a continuum of questions. When we focus on 2-3 key concepts within each unit, we are able to bring the focus of the children’s thinking to a deeper level rather than shallow and broad. These key...
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Concept Based Learning & Making Thinking Visible

Concept Based Learning

I am a huge fan of inquiry based teaching and learning. After all, I am a die-hard IB PYP teacher. Anything that promotes thinking in an engaged manner and reinforces understanding excites me! Concept based learning looks at a given subject through the lens of concepts or “big ideas” and encourages the children to think about those big ideas rather than having a subject stuffed into a small box. It enables more connections to be made and, in my opinion, creates a more authentic learning experience where all subjects and skills can be utilised. Lets begin with The Concept Map!

The Concept Map-The idea of using background knowledge with inquiry and directing thinking strategies to create understanding in science.

                                        The concept map, making thinking visible.

Rather than “giving” students the...

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