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Implementing Visible Thinking Routines in the IB PYP

When it comes to reflection and assessment of our IB PYP transdisciplinary inquiries, we are fundamentally assessing the abstract; understanding of concepts, transfer of knowledge and development of skills. These are not things that can be monitored with multiple choice assessments. (If you'd like to explore more about assessment in the PYP, start with this article here. ) Part of our assessment strategies include on-going documentation of the learning process, which includes the children's thinking and this is where the valuable visible thinking routines assist. I am delighted to welcome my guest writer, Jahnavi Aswani, a homeroom teacher-facilitator with PYP 3 from Mount Litera School International, Mumbai. She is bringing her experience with visible thinking routines and practical ideas to share with our community. As you read through Jahnavi's article, consider the Approaches to Learning Skills that are put into practice within the different thinking routines. Read on for some...
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Easy Activities for Developing IB PYP Communication Skills

This article is bringing you some creative ideas for developing the IB PYP communications skills with your students. These are all practical and simple ideas that I've used in my class over the years with much success, much laughter and a lot of meaningful learning too. As I was listening to Claire, from The Art Engager podcast, this quote stuck with me, as I thought about how to better support my learners and reminded me of a really simple activity for mindful listening.

"Becoming more aware of your listening skills is the first step to improving them. "

The Art Engager Podcast

LISTENING MINDFULLY

Listening is often overlooked as a communication skill and so I like to begin here to remind the children that this is really a big part of collaborative discussions. We need to be able to listen to respond to others rather than listening to react.

And so, a simple but effective activity for all ages that can be done indoors or outdoors is to just simply stop and listen. If you throw...

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Brilliant Books to Inspire Action in the IB PYP

Our aim is, through inquiry, to have the children come up with responsible, thoughtful and meaningful action that will make an impact. This impact does not have to be earth-shattering for the world. It does have to connect with their learning, giving a sense of purpose to their learning  through experience and enabling their voice to shine through. This is extremely empowering. Think about the impact that taking action has on yourself; from checking off your daily to-do list, to accomplishing a marathon event. ( or a marathon! Haha! )  The impact begins with how you feel about yourself and, depending on the action, can have a domino effect in that it affects others in your immediate community, wider community or even globally. Regardless of the extent of the ripple effect of your action, it becomes empowering. So, how do we transfer this to the children?

Making it Happen The best way to encourage student action is to begin by...

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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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Mentoring the Mentors within the IB PYP Exhibition

Within the IB PYP Exhibition, your team of mentors are a crucial support tool for students and facilitators alike. They are often a mixture of other staff members ( teachers, support staff ), members of the local community and parents. Many mentors are coming to the Exhibition for the first time. And, even if it isn’t their first time, its so important to ensure right from the very beginning, that everyone is on the same page. Mentoring your mentors is one key to making the journey  a smoother one.  I have a couple of GREAT tools to help! In this article, you will find a fantastic video, a free guide and my best-selling Exhibition journal. If this is your first journey through the PYP Exhibition, make sure you grab your FREE timeline here.

[caption id="attachment_3787" align="alignnone" width="980"] Get your FREE Exhibition timeline now![/caption]

Within my student journal, Journey Through the PYP Exhibition, you will find ideas for mentors as well as clarifying...

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Bringing Student Agency into Assessment in the IB PYP

 

Student Agency and Inclusive Assessment

Over the years, Ive chatted about inclusive assessment as a practice that needs to become embedded within any student-led, inquiry-based classroom. This message has been spread far and wide that this is a really important part of our daily routine. The IB themselves shifted towards on-going reflection, we have student agency as all the buzz ( and hallelujah for that!), numerous educators within our community are sharing their rationale for the value that inclusive assessment brings and none of this could have come a moment too soon. Yes, its that vital.

If we consider assessment as a key element within education, then we have to reconsider the role our students play within that element.

If you'd like to catch up with my 3 part series of articles from 2018-2019, you can link to those here. They cover the form and function of assessment in the inquiry-based classroom, together with  strategies for developing inclusive

...

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Mindfulness in the Classroom – An IB PYP ATL Skill

 

What is mindfulness exactly? And why would we need mindfulness in the classroom? According to Wikipedia, mindfulness is:

  • a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
  • the quality of being aware or conscious of something

When I consider those definitions in relation to mindfulness in the IB PYP classroom, the key words that jump out to me are:

being aware, focusing, present, accepting, feelings, thoughts, therapeutic. 

Connecting with the Learner Profile

All very similar to being reflective, don't you think? Since we have a whole child approach to teaching, this makes perfect sense that we would help to develop awareness of self as an approach to learning. If we think about how many attributes within the the Learner Profile align with mindfulness, we can then see how, through taking time to explicitly teach mindfulness...

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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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5 Things You Don’t Have To Do As A PYP Teacher

When it comes to being an inquiry teacher and an IB PYP teacher, there are a bazillion articles and blog posts and podcasts and books telling us what we can do: become an effective facilitator, research new curriculum,changes to practices, to assessment etc. etc. and on and on,  all while making sure we follow through with the latest buzz words -this is all well and good and no doubt valuable. But sometimes it becomes, and I'm speaking from personal experience, totally and utterly overwhelming.  Well, to add a variation to the theme,  I'm here today to tell you what you DONT have to do! :) Ready? Here goes. You DON'T HAVE TO.......

1. Give Feedback Daily

But how will I know if they are meeting the objectives? How will I know they understood the concepts? What if they are falling behind?  These are a few of the questions that I used to ask myself back in the days when I was rushing around in a stressed out state, trying to ensure that I had enough evidence of...

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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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